01 October, 2020

Cowboys 'n Indians: Act Five

The four US presidents to visit India have left an uneven record. Ike and Bill were the high points. Dubya won't get there, but won't be a blip either.

PA/ American Embassy
Cowboys 'n Indians: Act Five
When Air Force One lands in New Delhi, George W. Bush will be the fifth US president to come to India. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first presidential visitor in 1959. A decade later, Richard Nixon came and then came Jimmy Carter in 1978. Twenty-two years later Bill Clinton came visiting. Now, six years later, it is George Bush’s turn. Before examining the prospects for his visit, it is useful to review how past presidents fared in India.

On December 10, 1959, toward the end of his White House years, Eisenhower drew a tumultuous welcome in New Delhi. "We had expected a great welcome for the president. But even our anticipations were exceeded," then PM Jawaharlal Nehru had stated. Millions of people jammed the streets to greet the WW-II hero. Although Ike, as Eisenhower was popularly called, had an affinity for India, his 1954 decision to provide military assistance to Pakistan and to include India’s neighbour in the anti-Soviet security system severely damaged US-India ties. Still, by the time he travelled to Delhi, relations were on...



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