If South Sudan is a virtual unknown for most Americans, India has the opposite problem: it is all too well known, and often for the wrong reasons.
Long gone are the stories about starvation and poverty, about overpopulation and religious conflicts. Those problems still exist, to be sure, but most editors would rather read about India’s economic promise, about its democratic system, its embrace of free-market capitalism, its newfound strategic alliance with the United States against a surging China.
All very well, writes academic Sumit Ganguly in this week’s Foreign Policy magazine. But the reality is that India doesn’t live up to the hype, and unless it begins to make some hard choices soon, it may have to resign itself to being a B-list player for years to come. Mr. Ganguly, a political scientist at Indiana University in Bloomington, writes:
Unfortunately, the fascination with India's growing economic clout and foreign-policy overtures has glossed over its institutional limits, the many quirks of its political culture, and the significant economic and social challenges it faces. To cite but one example, at least 30 percent of Indian agricultural produce spoils because the country has failed to develop a viable supply chain. Foreign investors could alleviate, if not solve, that problem. But thanks to the intransigence of a small number of political parties and organized interest groups, India has refused to open its markets to outsiders. Until India can meet basic challenges like this, its greatness will remain a matter of rhetoric, not fact.