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Is India Ready?




President Barack Obama addresses the Indian Parliament in New Delhi on Nov. 8, 2010. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama addresses the Indian Parliament in New Delhi on Nov. 8, 2010. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, November 8, 2010 - President Obama has given a comprehensive speech to a joint session of the Indian Parliament and has articulated a grand vision for the US-India relationship in the global, Asian, South Asian, and bilateral contexts.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the speech was how the Indian political officials responded to it. The most thunderous applause came after President Obama emphasized that the terrorists who were responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks must be brought to justice. Enthusiastic applause also followed the president's remark about India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council. On the other hand, the whole section of the speech that outlined the global partnership agenda and a greater role for India in the Asia-Pacific region was received at best with a tepid response.

India may find appealing the idea of being recognized as a world power (as in the desired permanent membership in the Security Council). But, it is clear that while India may have indeed "emerged" rather than beingin the process of "emerging" as a global player, neither the Indian political establishment nor the Indian popular psyche has yet come to terms with the implications of being a global power. If India is to do its part in making President Obama’s vision of the US-India relationship a reality, its political and business leaders, along with its intellectual and cultural elites, need to begin a national conversation about India’s global vision and strategies to implement it.

Vishakha N. Desai is President of Asia Society.

Related: 

Slideshow: Obama in Asia 

Asia Society Coverage of Obama's 2010 Asia Trip 

Transcript: Obama Addresses Indian Parliament (via Rediff)