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A Relationship In The Process of Transformation

Rajesh Rajagopalan

By Ashley J. Tellis
India Research Press, New Delhi /Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, New Delhi, , 2005, pp. 119, price not stated.

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

The transformation of US-India relations over the last five years is one of the most significant developments in global politics. But this is a transformation that has been spasmodic, slow and its end state remains uncertain. This is also a strategic transformation, not just in the sense that it has important geo-strategic consequences, but also in the sense that the process itself has been driven almost entirely by the political leadership in both countries.       It is to this political leadership in both countries that Ashley Tellis addresses his message.  Though the rapid changes that have taken place over the last few months have overtaken some of the analysis, especially Tellis’s view of how to resolve the nuclear tangle between the US and India, the essence of the message still bears repeating: the need for the leadership on both sides to not lose sight of their key objective in transforming this important relationship.        Taking at face value the Bush administration’s stated intention of helping India become a major world power in this century, Tellis looks at how to transform that intention into policy.  Selecting the key areas in the existing dialogue (the energy, strategic and economic dialogues), Tellis examines the key challenges facing the dialogue and the relationship, and suggests ways to get around them.  This is what he does best: outline a variety of options, from the easiest end of the spectrum to the most difficult, and exhaustively explore the advantages, disadvantages and feasibility of each.  The options themselves, thus, are the not the most important part: it is the detailed exposition of these options that sets Tellis’s work apart from others.  Indian analysts, both within the government and outside, would do well to look closely at Tellis’s work with an eye to the methodology even more than the specifics of the recommendations.        Though the recommendations are addressed to both governments, the key concessions need to be made by Washington, and the focus is therefore much more on what Washington needs to do than New Delhi.  And these are radical recommendations.  Written prior to the US-India nuclear agreement, but after the earlier US statement about its desire to see India as a great power, it anticipates some of the significant shifts that took place when the US-India nuclear deal was announced.  In some ways that deal is even more radical than some of the proposals that ...

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