Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner is being reported as slated to visit India along with the outgoing Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn to follow through on the recent State visit by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington.
Geithner and Kohn are expected to discuss U.S-India trade relations to help U.S corporations expand their activities into the growing Indian market. Given the rising anti-China and anti-India sentiment in the United States and against Americans of Chinese and Indian origin in the very same institutions of government that Geithner and Kohn run ― the United States Treasury and the Federal Reserve ― perhaps the visit must be postponed until the United States, as a country, learns to not only like the foreign markets it wants to access, but the people who make up those markets, because any other behaviors both bilaterally and within multilateral institutions is antithetical to the spirit of the recent expansion of the G7 to the G20.
The shabby, racist and vicious treatment of Americans of South Asian origin in the United States since 9/11 merits cautious engagement by India with the United States. India is a vibrant democracy which has extremely well integrated its minorities into its society and political life, despite its own recent terrorist attacks, when compared to the American intolerance and dysfunction. India has sufficient human capital and economic savvy to develop its economy and may not have much to gain from U.S firms entering its market. India must engage with the United States on its terms, similar to China, given the rise of both social and economic protectionism in the United States since 9/11.
Geopolitically, as a nation which has long followed peaceful uses of nuclear power, Prime Minister Singh should help his counterpart in the United States, President Obama, with the global denuclearization agenda and delegate Geithner’s visit to India’s finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Ms. Shyamala Gopinath following the protocol of diplomatic equivalence.
On the most important economic matter of clean energy, it is in India’s interest to compete directly with the United States both in finance and technology, leveraging its democratic political structure and human capital across all economic sectors, which is also an advantage over China. India must aggressively pursue nuclear, solar and clean coal technologies (as a part of the FutureGen Alliance), so as not to repeat the mistakes of American industrialization over the last century either in its economic structure or in its way of life. The global shift away from fossil fuels through 2050 provides India the opportunity to break away from the domination of the countries that were responsible for the Industrial Revolution and India, must, therefore, engage in the realpolitik accordingly.
The Shanghai Expo must serve as a useful example to India to seek its own version of the expo in future years and to bid for the Olympic Games in New Delhi. India can play a very important role in the emerging geopolitical and geoeconomic balance of power in Eurasia and the world without getting caught up in the ongoing unseemly and ugly clash of civilizations, for it can undermine India’s dignity as the civilization the world has aspired to for millennia and still does, constituting the fabric of Indian society.