India Insight

Obama or McCain – who is better for India?

Like much of the world waiting to find out who leads the United States as its president for the next four years, India too looks askance at the mother of all elections.

While some believe India-U.S. relations have evolved to a strategic level where it does not matter who is at the helm of affairs, a debate rages on whether Obama or McCain will be good for the South Asia region, and India in specific.

As in the U.S., in India the balance seems to tilt in favour of Obama. His backers say he will be a welcome change from the stifling neoconservatism of the Bush administration and its heavy-breathing belligerence.

The Times of India newspaper says: “…a McCain win will result in a broad continuation of Bush administration policies…Beyond that, US-India ties, at least from Washington’s perspective, would continue to be largely security driven, subject to conservative impulses arising from fears of an extremist Islamist agenda to India’s west and an expanding Chinese influence everywhere.

“Obama on the other hand promises to be different, he will bring in fresh informed change to the region.”

With Islamist militancy, has India passed the tipping point?

Victims of the bombings in AhmedabadThe bombings that killed 45 people in the communally sensitive city of Ahmedabad have shaken India’s establishment. It is now sinking in that India faces homegrown Islamist militant groups operating with a scale and sophistication unheard of in
previous years.   

A group called “India Mujahideen” claimed responsibility for the attacks, the same group that said it carried out the bombings in Jaipur in May that killed 63 people.

For years, India had been seen as country that had largely rejected the attractions of global militancy spurred on by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. President George W. Bush notably said there were no Indians in al Qaeda.

Are Indian Muslims leading the way in condemning terror?

A man prays at the Nizamuddin shrine in New DelhiFor those Western critics that say Islam does not enough to to condemn terrorism, perhaps they should look at India, home to one of the world’s biggest Muslim populations — around 13 percent of mainly Hindu India’s 1.1 billion people.

 On Wednesday, it was the turn of Khalid Rasheed, head of the oldest madrasa in the northern city of Lucknow — a traditional centre for Muslims and religious scholarship. He rejected terrorism as anti-Islamic after he and his colleagues had been accused of apostasy over their pacifist stance by at group that calls itself the Indian Mujahideen.

Indian Mujahideen made threats against the madrasa in which they also claimed responsibility for last week’s bomb blasts in Jaipur, western India, which killed 63 people.

Time for India and Bangladesh to work together

For years India has always looked west to Pakistan when bombs exploded in its cities, powerless to influence its old foe.

A rapid action force soldier looks out from his truck during a curfew in Jaipur May 15, 2008. REUTERS/Punit ParanjpeNow, it is talking peace with Pakistan, and casting aspersions eastwards to Bangladesh, a country it helped establish and should have much more leverage over.

Isn’t it time for some serious diplomacy, to improve relations with Bangladesh and work together to combat violent Islamist extremism?

Timing of Jaipur blasts will raise suspicion of Pakistani hand

Are militants, or even hawks within the Pakistani establishment, trying to undermine the peace process with India, now that President Pervez Musharraf has removed his uniform and civilians are squabbling for power?

A injured man receives treatment after a series of bomb blasts in Jaipur May 13, 2008. REUTERS/Vinay Joashi via You Witness NewsThe dust has scarcely settled on another horrific bomb attack in India, and the investigation has only just begun into the synchronised blasts in Jaipur that killed around 60 people .

It is still far too early to be drawing any firm conclusions, but the timing of the blasts is already making some people wonder whether Pakistan was involved.

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