Monday, July 13, 2009



The following is the reply sent by me to an E-mail question from a journalist asking for my reaction to the forthcoming visit of Mrs.Hilary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to New Delhi for talks with the Indian leaders:

It will be essentially an "ego-massaging" visit. India's inflated ego was hurt when she went to China first in Februrary and spoke in very positive terms about China. She has already embarked on an exercise to introduce correctives.

2.Whatever she might say to please India, the reality is that Pakistan and China are more important to the US at present than India. Pakistan is important for preventing another 9/11 in US homeland and for preventing a catastrophic act of terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction material and China for its economic recovery.

3.Comparatively, India's utility to the US is limited. At the same
time, the US cannot ignore India because of its size, its democracy, its economic potential in another 10 years if not now and the vigorous Indian-origin community in the US which is politically more active than the Chinese-origin community.

4.We can expect from her positive statements and gestures, but one cannot say definitely how sincerely-meant they would be. Indians have a weakness for flattery and tend to indulge in wishful-thinking.

5.We have no culture of strategic-thinking and laser-sharp analysis based on cruel facts and figures. But we have a long-ingrained culture of wishful-thinking. All Hillary Clinton has to do is to make a few statements describing India as a great power, praising Mahatma Gandhi, highlighting the impact of Gandhiji on Martin Luther King and Barack Obama, India's IT genius etc, Indians wil be quite happy for some months till the next disappointment comes.

6.Americans understand India better than they understand Pakistan and its jihadi hordes. Pakistanis understand the US better than Indians.

7.Hype and flattery will be the defining characteristics of her visit. Indian ego will remain tickled for some months.

8. Ultimately, our people will continue to die at the hands of jihadi terrorists. Pakistan will continue to use terrorism against India to change the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir. Americans will continue to link terrorism with Kashmir.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and , presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )