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Bush visit to India: from estranged to engaged democracies?

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) When US Air Force One lands in Delhi on Wednesday, March 1, Mr George W Bush will be the fifth American President to visit India after his illustrious Republican predecessor General 'Ike' Eisenhower who made the first such visit in December 1959.

At that time lakhs of enthusiastic Indians thronged the streets to welcome Ike and it is evident that 47 years later, the welcome that Mr Bush will receive will be more subdued and sombre.

There are mixed feelings in India about the Bush Presidency- much of it derived from the US military action in Iraq and more recently in relation to Iran-and hence the deep disquiet about the implications of Delhi forging a closer relationship with the US.

Much of this dissent has already been reflected in Parliament and it is expected that in keeping with India's democratic character and vibrant diversity, it will be a mixed reception that awaits Mr Bush.

However, an objective analysis of the current nature of the bilateral relationship between India and the US and the various initiatives ascribed to the Bush Presidency will suggest that on balance, the Bush team has sought to completely reorient the bilateral relationship from one of deep estrangement -that prevailed from Kennedy to Clinton due to fundamentally divergent perceptions of each others national interests and the nuclear factor-to one of mutually beneficial engagement.

The Bush team, which assumed office in January 2001, was determined to alter the framework of the troubled bilateral relationship in a definitive and positive manner and this determination was contained in the 'National Security Strategy of the USA' released in September 2002 which added inter-alia:

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