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Hillary Clinton’s farewell visit to Delhi: from prickly estrangement to empathetic divergence


(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will rank as the most accomplished, poised and successful woman politician in American history. She has pierced many glass ceilings with tenacity and grace. She almost made it to the White House and future sociologists and historians will be able to more objectively assess the misogyny index that still lurks deep within American society and its relevance in the Obama-Clinton Democratic party tussle. The U.S. demonstrated in late 2008 that it had evolved to a point where it could accept a coloured President but not a woman.

However, South Asia with its distinctive dynasty-cum-family political ethos is more at home with strong woman politicians and the top leadership over the decades includes Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Sirimavo Bandaranaike (the world’s first woman prime minister) and her daughter Chandrika to Sheikh Hasina. Thus, South Asia would provide a natural comfort zone for Hillary Clinton who has just completed a whistle-stop visit that took her from Beijing to Dhaka to Kolkata before she arrived in Delhi for high-level meetings with her Indian counterpart on Tuesday.

Clinton is no stranger to India and has visited many parts of the country — both as the U.S. First Lady and now as the Secretary of State. Paradoxically, even though she was not in the political loop at the time, her husband Bill Clinton (the U.S. President in 1993) castigated India for its nuclear profile and heightened the estrangement between the two democracies.

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