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Monday, October 1, 2007

The Indian Lobby's Future

The Indian Lobby and its Future
Mike Ghouse, October 1, 2007


The Indian Lobby is in a good position to march ahead, as much as it is learning from the Israel lobby, it can also learn that going too far, can bring negative returns.

A healthy balance is more sustainable in the long run, than taking advantage of one another. India has always sought a middle ground, has never waged a war on another county, and neither has it aggressively sought to frighten the little nations and rule. It is paying off and we are going to have to sustain that policy and not fall prey to our new relationship.

We have seen rise and fall of empires, almost every time, the fall was followed by an un-just rule.

America was the superpower for years but when we resorted to un-just wars, taking sides for a quick benefit rather than a just benefit, we have lost and we are losing it now. Hopefully the slide will end with our current President, who has a disapproval ratings of 74% from Americans. Further, we want the next President who would seek cooperation of other nations in doing good things, and not waging wars, we want the president to lead the world through the example of our democracy, of our respect for peace and our respect for human dignity and certainly not alienating and creating enemies around the globe".

India earned her respect by being non-aligned all the way from independence through the 60's. Then we tilted towards Soviet Union and now towards America . This relation is natural, both of us are democracies and we have a common interest to let the world see the light of democracy, and see that people run their own lives and their citizens are treated with dignity, liberty and justice.

Imperialism has gotten away in the human history; but only for short term. There is a old saying in Urdu/Hindu " Jis ki laathi, us ki bhains", whoever owns the stick drives the cattle.

Israel lobby had gone too far to the detriment of American interests. It started out with a legitimate need; to protect and defend Israel ’s right to exist. Power is corruptive, and the lobby is no exception to that. In their enthusiasm and their ability to influence the President, Senate and the house, they have gone far off bringing diminishing returns. For every two steps they take, they will have to back at least one, and if they still don't get it, the law of karma takes over and they may have to back peddle several steps to catch up with the eternal act of balancing. Had they been just to America and Israel both, they would not be facing the issues they are encountering today.

I hope the India Lobby takes the approach of sustainability of their policy rather than what can we get today? There are always a few petty ones around, who are less for India , but more against other nations. Their agenda is hate, and they make their way into the lobby to get their agenda taken care of, they pretend that they are for India , but they are a liability to India . As Indians, we have to contain these extremists among us, if not we could lose momentum. It is time we check them out, each one of them.

We stand to gain a whole lot for both the nations, if we remain true to the ideal for what is good for India has also got to be good for America .

Your comments: http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/09/the-indian-lobby-and-its-future.htm

Suggested reading : The Law of Karma and the Israel Lobby http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2007/08/israel-lobby.html

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town

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The Hill's Next Big Player Is Made in India.

Mira Kamdar, Sunday, September 30, 2007

The fall's most controversial book is almost certainly "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," in which political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt warn that Jewish Americans have built a behemoth that has bullied policymakers into putting Israel's interests in the Middle East ahead of America's. To Mearsheimer and Walt, AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying group, is insidious. But to more and more Indian Americans, it's downright inspiring.

With growing numbers, clout and self-confidence, the Indian American community is turning its admiration for the Israel lobby and its respect for high-achieving Jewish Americans into a powerful new force of its own. Following consciously in AIPAC's footsteps, the India lobby is getting results in Washington -- and having a profound impact on U.S. policy, with important consequences for the future of Asia and the world.

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"This is huge," enthused Ron Somers, the president of the U.S.-India Business Council, from a posh hotel lobby in Philadelphia . "It's the Berlin Wall coming down. It's Nixon in China ."

What has Somers so energized is a landmark nuclear cooperation deal between India and the United States, which would give India access to U.S. nuclear technology and deliver fuel supplies to India's civilian power plants in return for placing them under permanent international safeguards. Under the deal's terms, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- for decades the cornerstone of efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons -- will in effect be waived for India, just nine years after the Clinton administration slapped sanctions on New Delhi for its 1998 nuclear tests. But the Bush administration, eager to check the rise of China by tilting toward its massive neighbor, has sought to forge a new strategic alliance with India , cemented by the civil nuclear deal.

On the U.S. side, the pact awaits nothing more than one final up-or-down vote in Congress. (In India , the situation is far more complicated; India 's left-wing parties, sensitive to any whiff of imperialism, have accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of surrendering the country's sovereignty -- a broadside that may yet scuttle the deal.) On Capitol Hill, despite deep divisions over Iraq , immigration and the outsourcing of American jobs to India , Democrats and Republicans quickly fell into line on the nuclear deal, voting for it last December by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Even lawmakers who had made nuclear nonproliferation a core issue over their long careers, such as Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), quickly came around to President Bush's point of view. Why?

The answer is that the India lobby is now officially a powerful presence on the Hill. The nuclear pact brought together an Indian government that is savvier than ever about playing the Washington game, an Indian American community that is just coming into its own and powerful business interests that see India as perhaps the single biggest money-making opportunity of the 21st century.

The nuclear deal has been pushed aggressively by well-funded groups representing industry in both countries. At the center of the lobbying effort has been Robert D. Blackwill, a former U.S. ambassador to India and deputy national security adviser who's now with a well-connected Republican lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers LLC. The firm's Web site touts Blackwill as a pillar of its "India Practice," along with a more recent hire, Philip D. Zelikow, a former top adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was also one of the architects of the Bush administration's tilt toward India . The Confederation of Indian Industry paid Blackwill to lobby various U.S. government entities, according to the Boston Globe. And India is also paying a major Beltway law firm, Venable LLP.

The U.S.-India Business Council has lavished big money on lobbyists, too. With India slated to spend perhaps $60 billion over the next few years to boost its military capabilities, major U.S. corporations are hoping that the nuclear agreement will open the door to some extremely lucrative opportunities, including military contracts and deals to help build nuclear power plants. According to a recent MIT study, Lockheed Martin is pushing to land a $4 billion to $9 billion contract for more than 120 fighter planes that India plans to buy. "The bounty is enormous," gushed Somers, the business council's president.

So enormous, in fact, that Bonner & Associates created an India lobbying group last year to make sure that U.S. companies reap a major chunk of it. Dubbed the Indian American Security Leadership Council, the group was underwritten by Ramesh Kapur, a former trustee of the Democratic National Committee, and Krishna Srinivasa, who has been backing GOP causes since his 1984 stint as co-chair of Asian Americans for Reagan-Bush. The council has, oddly, "recruited groups representing thousands of American veterans" to urge Congress to pass the nuclear deal.

The India lobby is also eager to use Indian Americans to put a human face -- not to mention a voter's face and a campaign contributor's face -- on its agenda. "Industry would make its business case," Somers explained, "and Indian Americans would make the emotional case."

There are now some 2.2 million Americans of Indian origin -- a number that's growing rapidly. First-generation immigrants keenly recall the humiliating days when India was dismissed as an overpopulated, socialist haven of poverty and disease. They are thrilled by the new respect India is getting. Meanwhile, a second, American-born generation of Indian Americans who feel comfortable with activism and publicity is just beginning to hit its political stride. As a group, Indian Americans have higher levels of education and income than the national average, making them a natural for political mobilization.

One standout member of the first generation is Sanjay Puri, who founded the U.S. India Political Action Committee in 2002. (Its acronym, USINPAC, even sounds a bit like AIPAC.) He came to the United States in 1985 to get an MBA at George Washington University , staying on to found an information-technology company. A man of modest demeanor who wears a lapel pin that joins the Indian and American flags, Puri grew tired of watching successful Indian Americans pony up money just so they could get their picture taken with a politician. "I thought, 'What are we getting out of this?', " he explains.

In just five years, USINPAC has become the most visible face of Indian American lobbying. Its Web site boasts photos of its leaders with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and presidential candidates from Fred Thompson to Barack Obama. The group pointedly sports a New Hampshire branch. It can also take some credit for ending the Senate career of Virginia Republican George Allen, whose notorious taunt of "macaca" to a young Indian American outraged the community. Less publicly, USINPAC claims to have brought a lot of lawmakers around. "You haven't heard a lot from Dan Burton lately, right?" Puri asked, referring to a Republican congressman from Indiana who has long been perceived as an India basher.

USINPAC is capable of pouncing; witness the incident last June when Obama's campaign issued a memo excoriating Hillary Rodham Clinton for her close ties to wealthy Indian Americans and her alleged support for outsourcing, listing the New York senator's affiliation as "D-Punjab." Puri personally protested in a widely circulated open letter, and Obama quickly issued an apology. "Did you see? That letter was addressed directly to Sanjay," Varun Mehta, a senior at Boston University and USINPAC volunteer, told me with evident admiration. "That's the kind of clout Sanjay has."

Discussion PolicyDiscussion Policy CLOSEComments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

Like many politically engaged Indian Americans, Puri has a deep regard for the Israel lobby -- particularly in a country where Jews make up just a small minority of the population. "A lot of Jewish people tell me maybe I was Jewish in my past life," he jokes. The respect runs both ways. The American Jewish Committee, for instance, recently sent letters to members of Congress supporting the U.S.-India nuclear deal.

"We model ourselves on the Jewish people in the United States ," explains Mital Gandhi of USINPAC's new offshoot, the U.S.-India Business Alliance . "We're not quite there yet. But we're getting there."

Mira Kamdar, a fellow at the World Policy Institute and the Asia Society, is the author of "Planet India : How the Fastest-Growing Democracy is Transforming America and the World."

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Israel Lobby & Democracy
http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2007/09/israel-lobby-democracy.html

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