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An Important Opportunity for India and the US

Ambassador Robert Blake at Asia Society's New York Center on Nov. 10, 2009.
by Jennifer Mattson
10 November 2009

NEW YORK, November 10, 2009 - Buoyed by a strong electoral
mandate and a resilient economy, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United
States is expected to bring a renewed sense of optimism and purpose. However,
the Prime Minister has a few domestic and international challenges that he will
need to address, according to Ambassador
Robert Blake
, Assistant Secretary of South and Central Asian Affairs at the
State Department.

The Indian economy continues to grow at 6.5 percent with major
reforms in technology, telecommunications, and manufacturing propelling that
growth. However, key domestic challenges remain in the under performing agricultural
sector, where persistent poverty continues to plague some 800 million Indian
citizens, and 45 percent of the children go unnourished.

India and Pakistan are working to resolve issues over border
tensions and terrorism, which have deterred past efforts to build confidence
and stability between the two neighbors. Multilateral challenges also remain,
as India’s role in managing the international system increases, and consensus
between the US and India on global issues such as non-proliferation, trade, and
climate control becomes more necessary.  

Prospects for further relationship building between the US
and India include a pivotal civil nuclear initiative, which has “turned our
most significant irritant in bilateral relations into an opportunity for
cooperation” and an ongoing dialogue of strategic cooperation based around five
pillar initiatives: strategic cooperation, energy and climate change, economics,
trade and agriculture, and education.

Ambassador Blake also underscored the importance of greater
people to people partnerships that will initiate business, entrepreneurial,
scientific collaboration between individuals in the US and India; sharing ideas
and bringing our two countries to a better understanding of one-another on both
political and social levels.

Reported by Kari
Anne Scherling, Global Policy Programs