Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dubya In India (and the "Fresh Prince" in Bombay)

President Bush just landed in India. Here are some links that stand out to me regarding the visit and the proposed nuclear deal:

1. A poll published in Outlook India shows that Bush's approval rating in India is higher than it is here in the U.S. (So maybe one shouldn't take the 100,000 protestors from Muslim groups and the Left in Delhi as the definitive voice of India.)

2. Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations, does a Q&A in the New York Times on the nuclear deal, explaining some of the details of the proposed deal, and why there's been difficulty ironing out the kinks.

3. Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, suggests that the nuclear deal the U.S. is negotiating with India isn't legal under the NPT, which the U.S. has signed even if India hasn't. Moreover, quite a number of folks are likely to be bothered by a possible deal, and a number of UN organizations are going to step in to try and block it after signing:

First, the United States has no authority to grant such an exemption on its own. The NPT is a treaty signed by 187 nations; it is enforced by the International Atomic Energy Agency; and it is, in effect, administered by the five nations that the treaty recognizes as nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France). This point is not a legal nicety. If the United States can cut a separate deal with India, what is to prevent China or Russia from doing the same with Pakistan or Iran? If India demands special treatment on the grounds that it's a stable democracy, what is to keep Japan, Brazil, or Germany from picking up on the precedent?

Second, the India deal would violate not just international agreements but also several U.S. laws regulating the export of nuclear materials.

In other words, an American president who sought to make this deal would, or should, detect a myriad of political actors that might protest or block it—mainly the U.N. Security Council, the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, and the U.S. Congress. Not just as a legal principle but also as a practical consideration, these actors must be notified, cajoled, mollified, or otherwise bargained with if the deal has a chance of coming to life.

The amazing thing is, President Bush just went ahead and made the pledge, without so much as the pretense of consultation—as if all these actors, with their prerogatives over treaties and laws (to say nothing of their concerns for very real dilemmas), didn't exist.

So even if the deal is signed (which is by no means guaranteed), it may not stick. Can it really be that the administration is unaware of the complications? What could their motivations for signing this be if it's unlikely that anyone will start shipping nuclear fuel to India anytime soon?

4. Arundhati Roy singles out Bush's planned visit to Rajghat (the Gandhi memorial park) as something that will cause millions of Indians to "wince." I don't know; I think most Indians are perfectly comfortable with unlikely appropriations of Gandhi's image and legacy (just as civil rights activists in the U.S. have gotten used to Republicans wantonly quoting MLK).

Other than that, Roy's best zinger on Bush's travel plans is about his choice of venue:

Ironic isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity, should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Not much of a bite there.

5. Forget Bush-Manmohan and the Nuclear Deal! Will Smith is in Bombay, making prognostications about the merger of Bollywood and Hollywood.


Ruchira Paul said...

I really regret missing Dubya's India visit by just a few days. I returned from New Delhi last Saturday.

Amardeep, if you don't mind, I will take the opportunity to shamelessly peddle my own blog post on Bush in India here. Please check out the angle on Dr. Manmohan Singh's daughter, Amrit Singh. The story was in all major Indian papers but not so much here. It is funny. I bet G.W.B. will not be indulging in casual family talk with Dr. Singh!

11:51 AM  
Suhail said...

OT curiousity: What is Will Smith referring to when he says: "I really feel like there is a marriage to be made between the three-act structure of American cinema and the beauty of the colour..blahblah". What is a three-act structure? Quick wikipedia search returns null. Thanks.

11:58 AM  
Rani said...

You missed the best (non)-news about the Bush visit: Aishwarya Rai will not be seen at the luncheon being hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in honour of visiting US President George W Bush at Delhi on Thursday.

Rai's secretary Hari Singh told PTI here on Wednesday night that she was on her way to Brazil when the Ministry of External Affairs tried to get in touch with her .

"We received a phone call from the protocol officer in MEA seeking her presence at the lunch, 40 minutes after she left for Brazil yesterday," Singh said.

"We have informed the Ministry via e-mail that she would not be able to attend the event, Singh said.

Rai is in Brazil to shoot for the sequel to the popular film Dhoom, called Dhoom 2.


12:12 PM  
Amardeep said...

Ruchira, Thanks for the link... the Amrit Singh/ACLU connection was also discussed in some desi blogs back when Manmohan Singh came to visit the U.S. last year. But it remains a fascinating problem...

Suhail, I think he's making a reference to classic drama: Act I (exposition), Act II (action), and Act III (resolution). Possibly he's suggesting that Bollywood might benefit from more linear plots.

Then again, how many Hindi films do you think Will Smith has watched? I'm not sure we should take it too seriously. ;-)

12:14 PM  
Anonymous said...

Well done Amardeep. Reading your blog, makes me wistful and wish I had done a Phd in English. But I sure am glad that you did.

Desh Singh
Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons

12:50 PM  
t.HYPE said...

I don't know professor. For me Hrithik Roshan, I mean Bollywood was love at first sight. If Will is as stuck on Aishwarya Rai as he says, he might actually make his dream come true. As for me, one never knows.

Bollywood probably could benefit from more linear plots but what in the world would we do with that extra hour of time?

12:52 PM  
Quizman said...


Not true. There was a front page article in the WSJ on Manmohan's daughter last week. This article is the reason why it made it to the Indian papers.


Will Smith appeared in Indian Idol this past week. A competitor made him sing a few lines of "Aati Kya Bhandala" with him, and he did so with aplomb. He also gave some advice on hard work and stuff. :-)

See this. This video of that may show up here.

6:08 PM  
Ruchira Paul said...

Roy is a bit off on the Red Fort. It is not crumbling and continues to be quite an imposing venue for a public speech. More interesting is Bush not addressing the Indian Parliament. Aren't the free and democratic systems of the guest and host countries the biggest point being trumpeted around this visit? What's so unnerving about a handful of communists shouting slogans? Clinton too had faced protests at the parliament but braved them and went on to deliver what I have heard was one of the best speeches heard on the floor there.

6:10 PM  
Joe said...

I'm not about to speak for millions of Indians about Gandhi and Bush, but I will say that, although never surprised, I do wince every time I hear American Republicans wantonly quote MLK.

1:06 AM  
Suhail said...

Thanks Amardeep. I am not too big a fan of this Bolly/telly crap. Just that one term caught my eye as something that I didn't know. Who cares about Will Smith, Ash or Idol or whatever marriage he's proposing(For all I know, he's probably scouting for 2-bit roles in B'wood). I am equally removed from all of them :-)

2:58 AM  
TEJI said...

May I inform your readers that George Bush is not giving a public speech from Red Fort but from Purana Qila which is in south Delhi.

7:05 AM  
Ruchira Paul said...

Thanks Teji. My mistake. I read Purana Quila but presumed Red Fort. So Roy is right after all about the "crumbling" part. But the old fort is still a wonderful venue.

9:52 AM  
Quizman said...

You mean Red Fort is not a purana qila? :-)

10:50 AM  
Quizman said...

Off-topic. Amardeep, I'd like to see your take on this article

10:51 AM  
Anonymous said...

Will Smith is apparently even studying some Hindi. Interesting, because for whatever reason the number of Americans studying Hindi lately has shot up from about, oh, maybe a couple dozen or so to tens of thousands last I checked. They're starting up Hindi courses in universities and high schools, and there's apparently a good deal of independent Hindi study. Guess those Bollywood standards really are having a major world effect??

5:14 PM  

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