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Off to India
On demographics, democratic speed bumps, and why Americans should call for more news about India
It has, for a while, been impossible for a reasonably engaged American to have missed news about China. Whether the issue has to do with trade, Covid-19, human-rights abuses, the prospect of future conflict, or even the stakes involved with TikTok, China is plastered right across the headlines. To a degree, the coverage is both warranted and useful. China is, after all, home to about one in every six people alive.
■ Conflict naturally sparks coverage. So does size. But it shouldn't take flaring tensions for a country to attract attention.
■ Allies and potential allies call for attention, too. One of the ways the world is shaped is through engagement, and engagement depends upon awareness -- just as "It's hard to be what you can't see", it's hard to assign value to things not readily discussed. That's what makes it almost scandalous how little coverage of India breaks through to American audiences.
■ Besides being on the cusp of overtaking China in population, India is the world's largest democracy, a fast-growing economy, and a major center for technology. It's also of substantial importance as a defense partner.
■ Even reputation-sensitive news organizations like the New York Times cover relatively little about the country, resulting in a bland diet of coverage about the country generally confined to broad-brushstroke analyses about high-level politics and predictable stories of environmental trouble. This, despite increasing US efforts to cultivate military cooperation and India's emerging status as an economy of indisputable consequence.
■ It has been two years since the United States had an appointed, confirmed ambassador to India. Symbolically, at least, that does not speak well of our national consideration about such an important relationship. Awareness shouldn't wax and wane opportunistically. Adversaries demand our attention, but courting better relationships with prospective allies is a long-term effort that calls for sustained dedication.