Monday, January 26, 2015

Why the Presidents of the World’s Largest and Oldest Democracies Need Each Other in a Dangerous World

26 January 2015

Why the Presidents of the World’s Largest and Oldest Democracies Need Each Other in a Dangerous World

President Obama-- who represents the oldest democracy in the world is visiting India -- the largest democracy of the world.  India’s leaders are discovering that they like America under President Obama; and that we have much in common. 

Both leaders share a similar personal story of growing up poor. Mr. Modi sold tea on a railway platform as a child. Obama grew up as the son of a single mother. Neither had the advantage of a dad who was rich or a former President or CEO to insure their success. Yet both Modi and Obama were elected to lead their respective nations to address staggering economic issues.

Obama inherited the worst economy in 70 years; Mr. Modi has over 1 billion people that need food and jobs. India is a land of a million villages and extreme wealth disparities.

I have a long history with India. I was sent their as a young attorney for an American Fortune 500 company who wanted to sell our products there. Ironically, the product was pollution control equipment for coal fired power plants.  It was a 100 year old technology invented in England that my company in Houston had purchased. I was setting up an export that creates jobs here. At the time, India has made it extremely difficult for American companies like us to sell into their market. The tax rate was 70%. 

The deal I made with an Indian company (one of the largest in India) had to be approved by the government before it could go into effect. My trips cost thousands even in 70’s and 80’s dollars my first class air tickets were $5,000.  A sale would pay for the salaries, overhead and profit of our staff and engineers in Houston and Birmingham, England (note: Yes, Birmingham, the place an “expert” on Fox News claimed  is a Muslim no-go zone, before he was laughed at by the conservative head of England’s government, David Cameron, who called him an “idiot”).

India and China are rising powers – communist China’s economy will pass America’s in size in 2015.  India can help America influence non-democratic China so that it does not become a greater threat to Asia. That is very possible since China has been growing its military budget substantially and trying to grab remote islands from Vietnam because of their oil potential. India and China share a border in the highest mountains in the world.

The title of my book “Better Times Ahead April Fool” comes from a sign I once saw in India while zipping through a depressingly black Bombay at 2 a.m. on a trip. I had arrived on April Fool’s day of that year.  America and India need each other to avoid being divided and conquered as fools by Russia and China in a dynamically changing space age, nuclear world.

India assaulted my senses like none of the other 50 plus countries I have been in.  It’s not every day that you ride in a taxi when children with missing limbs surround the car, begging for money. Yet last year they put an orbiter around Mars for 10% of the cost of a NASA program.

What I saw, along with the rise of China, is detailed in journal entries I wrote in airplanes and hotels, long before the days of computers and internet.

We need closer ties to India. Out two democracies are the only bright lights in a world of monarchies, dictatorships and one party government like those in Russia and China.

Stay tuned to Global American values for updates on these vital issues to our future.  Pass it on. What country do you think America should worry about the most?

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