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Karl F. Inderfurth, who worked in the U.N. and for the U.S. government specializing in South Asian affairs, gave a speech about the dynamic between India and the United States. Inderfurth started out by stating that India has a big role to play in today’s political climate. “India has emerged as one of the rising powers in the 21st century,” Inderfurth explained. “Along with China, it is one of the major powers on the Asian continent.” He then went on to state why the United States must engage with India. Inderfurth mentioned the global environment, a desire to maximize economic trade as reasons for U.S. involvement in moving the South Asian region toward stability. Many of the points he made centered on the power the two countries would have working together to create a positive change in the world. “The United States is the world’s first democracy,” he pointed out. “India is the world’s largest.” The relationship between the two nations was not always so stable. It was only after the Cold War, once India began to open itself up to other nations, that a true bond was formed. “It has been a transformation from a country with which we had an estranged relationship and democracy to one where we are engaged democracies.” However, Inderfurth admitted that he was afraid that the publicity India is receiving because of its booming economy would create an unrealistic expectation of what it can achieve in the present. “We don’t have to look at India through rose-tinted glasses,” he said. “What we need right now is a realistic outlook for the nation.” Two of the main problems India faces is maintaining its high economic growth and dealing with challenges such as infrastructure and poverty. Inderfurth added that Manmohan Singh’s government is aware of the domestic challenges it faces. “India sees itself as a developing country,” he explained. “An advanced country, but a developing country.” As of now, India’s rising population is an advantage, because the booming economy has stimulated job and education opportunities. Another aspect of the India-U.S. relationship Inderfurth focused on was where China fit in to the picture. In the past, India and China have had continuous border disagreements that created tension between them. Both nations have come together to work on their relationship, and China is now India’s largest trading partner. “The U.S. needs to engage China on its merits as it does India,” said Inderfurth, “and not get into a competition or a competitive triangle between the two. It should be a cooperative triangle, not a confrontational triangle.” Collaboration between the three nations could lead to great progress on important issues, such as climate change and energy security. Overall, “Looking at India in a realistic sense of where it is and what challenges it faces and what it can accomplish is a good idea and one that will be well served in this symposium,” said Inderfurth.

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Inderfurth, Karl

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