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South Asia Special Issue XXV


Taking stock at the time of going to press with the XXV  special issue on South Asia of The Book Review, two factors dominate the  geopolitical scene: one, the cruel face of terror, and two, promise of a new bonding—a ‘useful friendship’ perhaps?—between  the two largest democracies of the world, India and the United States of America. Terror, the other name for people taking the law into their own hands for revenge, retribution or even a perceived cause, has within a very short period of time escalated to levels of unimaginable, mindless, cruelty which is nothing short of unsurpassed bestiality. The killing of innocent schoolchildren in Peshawar, the Charlie Hebdo murders, the inhuman beheading of hostages—all point to a mindset in these so-called non-state actors which leads to their indulging in cruelty for its own sake, beyond reason. The challenge today is for humanity to find an effective solution to exorcise this canker festering in our body politic. The fact that Barack Obama, the first American President to visit India twice and the first to be the guest of honour at India’s R-Day Parade has signaled  a sea change in global politics, according to many analysts. It is a move which was perhaps bound to happen in the fullness of time. The geopolitical demand of the time is that new strategic partnerships be forged. The new Cold War which seems to be going on under the radar makes it imperative that the United States would seek to come closer to a rising Asian power, India, to counterbalance both China and Russia. Again, as far as Obama is concerned, the move to strengthen relations with the blessings of both the parties in the US could also be a part of his worldview that the US has to be weaned away from its over-militarized presence abroad and to commit to a turning around of the economy domestically. For India too, the need to balance China and Pakistan would be served by a closer strategic partnership with the US. The ‘Make in India’ vision requires new technologies which would make India globally competitive. India’s military modernization too requires closer cooperation with the United States. In all these prognostications and analyses of the visit and the talk of personal chemistry, the reading of the US experts is perhaps spot on. It seems to be a genuine concern for them ...

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