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New India, old Europe

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: The recent Indian-Italian bilateral dialogue, held in Milan on November 7, at a time when Italy was reeling from the euro crisis and Silvio Berlusconi’s impending political demise, offered a fraught reminder of the potential, and the limits, of India’s relationship with the European Union. India has a long history of …


India’s nuclear path

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: When the Commonwealth heads of government meet in Australia later this month, one prominent leader is almost certain to be conspicuously absent: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. India is a strong backer of the association of former British colonies (and some new entrants without that shared heritage, notably Mozambique and Rwanda), …


Democracy’s saintly challenger

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: India is no stranger to protest movements, hunger strikes, and the mass mobilization of citizens for a popular cause. But the recent fast by the Gandhian leader Anna Hazare, culminating in an extraordinary Saturday session of Parliament to pass a resolution acceding to his main demands, marked a dramatic departure in …


Is Afghanistan ready?

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: US President Barack Obama’s announcement of the start of American troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, and his administration’s increasing emphasis on reconciliation with the Taliban, have been studied attentively in one capital that has a large stake in the outcome — New Delhi. India has no troops in Afghanistan, but it has …


India gives

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: The recent India-Africa summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at which India’s government pledged $5 billion in aid to African countries, drew attention to a largely overlooked phenomenon — India’s emergence as a source, rather than a recipient, of foreign aid. For decades after independence — when Britain left the subcontinent one …


Wickets and wariness

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: India-Pakistan relations — a challenge at the best of times, and in the doldrums since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai of November 2008 – received an unexpected boost last month from an unlikely source: cricket. When the two countries became semi-finalists in the game’s quadrennial World Cup, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan …


The crisis of microfinance

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: The recent ouster of the Nobel Prize-winning Bangladeshi economist Mohammed Yunus as managing director of the Grameen Bank, which blazed a trail for microfinance in developing countries, has thrown a spotlight on the crisis engulfing a business that was once seen as a harbinger of hope for millions. Yunus’ tussle with …


The dissident and the Mahatma

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: With the Nobel Peace Prize presented this month in the absence of this year’s laureate, the imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, it might be wise to think of a man who never won the prize: Mahatma Gandhi. Despite that omission, there is no doubting Gandhiji’s worldwide significance — including for …


Burma: India’s bad neighbor policy

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: As stage-managed elections ratify the consequences of three decades of military rule in Burma, the perspective from its neighbor India may help explain why there is continued international acceptance of the country’s long-ruling junta. Burma was ruled as part of Britain’s Indian Empire until 1935, and the links between the two …


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