New Delhi, Oct 21 : An Indo-US forum held in New Delhi on Monday witnessed an unusual war of words between BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after the former asserted that India is in a better relationship with China as compared to the US.
Addressing the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), Madhav said India is not a ‘dumping market’ and that the government wants the country to emerge as a trading hub, by pushing the domestic market as well as foreign direct investment (FDI).
Madhav, a prominent face of the BJP’s foreign policy, was delivering his address at the annual leadership summit on US-India bilateral relations in the presence of Rice.
“Defence, communication, energy and healthcare are key areas, and today we have the best minds and wherewithal to jointly take trade relationships beyond trade margins. China is India’s immediate neighbour and we need to look at a growing partnership beyond global and regional pressures. However as both India and China grow, we also need to be competitive, try to access resources from all ways in the region. I would like to state very clearly that today China-India relationship is much better than US-India relationship,” said Madhav, much to the amazement of many.
Rice, however didn’t let it go and took a dig at Madhav’s statement. She warned that “China is playing guerilla warfare with India. Everyone sees it, but India still wishes to engage in many ways. Today India needs to engage with the private sector for development in all areas, and they need to look at how the US economy utilised public-private partnerships, while developing and fortifying development infrastructure simultaneously.”
But Madhav asserted that the US needs to understand that today there cannot be huge trade deficits between the two countries and that it needs to be balanced.
“India and US have had ambitious goals for our trade partnerships, but one element that US needs to understand is that we are not a dumping market, just because we have a big population that we usurp anything. This government wants India to emerge as a trading hub, by pushing domestic market as well as FDI,” said Madhav.
Rice spoke on India’s role in geopolitics and said that the country is attempting to do a lot with its economy but is challenged in multiple ways especially with low ratings given to it by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
She also said that India’s huge population, which needs quality healthcare, will miss the advantage if it does not collaborate, especially with US firms.
The BJP leader raised issues of domestic concerns for both India and the US, saying that what is domestic for the US is multinational for India.
“One needs to look into systems that need to understand the inevitability to grow together. Today India is a progressive economy which is globally recognised. Our global focus is shifting. India’s economic and strategic interest now lies in the East rather than the West. While US is a strong partner, our focus is now on our new ‘Look East Policy’,” said Madhav.
Highlighting India’s growing role as a global power axis in the Pacific region, where the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the new power hub, Madhav said that this is also a region in which the US has had interests for the last six decades.
Madhav said India is focusing on growth and distribution to the grass roots level and for this the country needs homegrown as well as global partners to make the USD five-trillion-dollar economy a reality.
“Today India has a standalone relationship with many countries, with a policy called ‘No-Hyphenation’ which means one-to-one without being influenced. The same goes for countries like Iran or China which we call de-hyphenated. We are encouraging more domestic manufacturing especially in defence and medicine, and we don’t also mind asking MNCs to invest and manufacture in India. This will be a healthy competition,” he added.
Rice further spoke about India’s regional security problems with Pakistan vis-a-vis the Kashmir issue apart from that of Russia. She said India is facing environmental problems but is blaming the US for the crisis.
India’s indigenous production does not qualify the global supply chain quality, especially in the areas of defence, science and technology, including healthcare, said Rice.