Sarah Palin’s choice of an international venue to deliver an address on “My Vision of America” is canny. She will speak in March before India’s business, political, diplomatic, academic and media elite at the annual India Today Conclave. The gathering arguably possesses the biggest private-sector megaphone in the world’s largest democracy. And while the delegates may not be a microcosm of the country’s 1.2 billion mostly poor people, they certainly make decisions that matter.
Mrs. Palin’s choice is also shrewd because her visit to India will come barely three months after a celebrated one by President Obama. Her appearance is certain to elicit comparisons, however superficial. A presidential visit, replete with pomp and pageantry, is far more of a visual and verbal feast than that of a private citizen, even if she happens to have been an erstwhile governor of Alaska and a former running mate in an American presidential election.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Palin’s India journey is an important one. For one, Indians would like to hear a clearly defined sense of America’s political and economic trajectory. Mr. Obama’s message during his trip last November was replete with predictable bromides and the usual rhetoric of bilateral friendship. He announced some major business deals that would enhance American exports, but these had been anticipated. Indians were less than happy that, however subtly, the president sought to underscore that, in Washington’s view at least, there was parity between an economy of $1.4 trillion, and a neighboring one – Pakistan – whose GDP is $167 billion.
The Obama Administration’s concept of parity, however, has less to do with economics than with a hope — becoming increasingly vain — that Pakistan will be a robust ally in the global fight against Al Qaeda’s terrorism.....
And given her personality, Mrs. Palin most definitely will make friends in India, which has already begun souring on President Obama for his perceived failure to follow through on promises made on his state visit. Happily, Mrs. Palin will be a political tourist; she will have no obligation to make any pledges, other than of accelerating her personal friendships in a land known for its warmth and hospitality.
Mr. Gupte is a contributing editor of The New York Sun.
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