The wrinkle in US plans, however, is that the Indians themselves are actual people, with minds and ambitions of their own. Alyssa Ayres has an interesting perspective here:
However, those in the US who see India simply as a hedge against China will likely be disappointed—for the two Asian giants have also taken giant strides toward better ties. The US may be better off viewing India as an ally like France—one which shares many values with Americans, but pursues its own course.Those who've been reading this blog the longest might remember that I once described the big question of the 21st century as whether China and India would play the roles of Germany and France, 1914-1945, or whether they would instead play Germany and France, 1946-present. The hard work both countries are putting in to forge a friendlier relationship makes me optimistic. The equally hard work other countries are putting in to making the relationship fail makes me less so. (America, Pakistan, I'm looking at you.)
Underscoring this change is a new robustness in economic ties. As recently as 2001, two-way trade between India and China was a paltry $3.6 billion, but it nearly doubled in 2004, rising 79 percent from the previous year to $13.6 billion dollars. By 2005 the figure reached $18.7 billion, and is expected to top $20 billion in 2006. The India-China Joint Study Group of Comprehensive Trade and Economic Cooperation predicts enormous growth potential because each country’s respective share of the other’s imports is still so small—both under 5%. And both countries anticipate growth in services trade, the sector in which their bilateral trade has grown faster than the sector has in each country. While some Indian commentators raise concerns about Chinese economic influence--underscored by the recent disqualification of Chinese firms from a mobile tender—this remains a mere blip overridden by economic pragmatism. Today’s talks, for example, between Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh produced a commitment to double trade from current levels to $40 billion by 2010.