Wednesday, July 20

US-India: Mr Singh goes to Washington

India's raucous Communist Party is gearing up to do battle with Wal-Mart's onslaught. "Let's see how tough they are when they have to deal with real communists instead of those Chinese imitations!"

India's trade unions, which make the AFL-CIO even in its heyday look like the Des Moines Quilting Circle, are also donning battle garb.

India's stock market, currency traders and central bank nervously await August, when China is supposed to revalue the yuan. If it goes off, this will put pressure on India to loosen up on the very tightly controlled rupee float, which could lead to an upwards revaluation of the rupee by as much as 40% or even higher.

The Bangalore version of Silicon Valley moguls have round-the-clock sentries posted outside Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's home, where he can't step foot outside or even walk near a window without hearing, "So how are we supposed to run 21st Century business without electricity? Or should we schedule all meetings for full moon nights and corner the world market in candle wax?"

Meanwhile the Indian military has been receiving anonymous letters written on paper with a Made in China watermark. "Those who are not very nice to dear neighbors do not get invited to Shanghai Cooperative picnics. By the way, how are things going in Kashmir these days?"

Through it all, and throughout the shift in power in New Delhi from the BJP to the Congress Party, the Bush administration and hundreds of high level officials in India have quietly and carefully worked at mending fences between India's largest trading partner and the world's most populous democracy.

The fruit of their labors, which began as soon as President Bush came to office, were evident when Washington rolled out the Full Monte welcome for Prime Minister Singh on Monday.

Mr Singh's 40 minute address to Congress on Tuesday, which included a very careful, measured summary of India's long term goals and views about the United States, should be seen in its proper light. Let the dour members of the US Congress and their counterparts in Brussels parse Singh's statements about nuclear energy and pose koan-like questions about the direction of the NPT. Let the sophisticates in Washington and New Delhi policy circles warn that the US would be naive to read too much into Singh's words about common interests.

All that won't change the fact that when Mr Singh stood up to address the US Congress an important new chapter in history was officially begun.

From India Daily:

US expects Chinese currency revaluation in a month -- will India follow suit with Manmohan Singh’s visit?

Wal-Mart assault: India may be forced to open its protected retail sector, but Wal-Mart for the first time will face real communists in India

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