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'India will be a world power'

June 19, 2006 17:35 IST

United States Ambassador David Campbell Mulford came to India in early 2004, a time when India-US relations were undergoing a dramatic shift, and saw Indian democracy in action in the general election of May that year.

A great champion of private enterprise, the former merchant banker (he was chairman, Credit Suisse First Boston before being nominated ambassador to India) told a Confederation of Indian Industry meeting in March 2004 that 'History will attest to the fact that great national partnerships and alliances in the modern world thrive when all elements of government, corporate and civil societies are engaged. And sometimes, dare I say it, the private sector runs well ahead of the public sector.'

A year later, India and the US signed a historic declaration, pledging 'their resolve to transform the relationship between their countries and establish a global partnership.'

Today, the United States Congress is debating the India-US nuclear deal, which will give India access to technology denied since its atomic tests of May 18, 1974.

In an exclusive online chat with readers of rediff.com, Ambassador Mulford spoke not just about the nuclear deal, but also about Washington's motivations behind befriending India, its relationship with Pakistan, and the state of the US economy.

For those of you who missed this exchange, here is the transcript:


David Mulford says, Good afternoon. This is Ambassador David C Mulford. I am happy to be here on rediff this afternoon to answer your questions. I know I won't be able to answer all of them, but I look forward to our conversation.


Ankur asked, What is the priority of USA vis - a - vis India. Is it Military Co-operation, Economic Co-operation or Cultural Collaboration or something else? Please chose one
David Mulford answers, Our priority for our relationship with India is to continue to develop a broad-based, comprehensive relationship touching every field of human endeavor. This will move us forward in the 21st century to a deep and productive relationship as India becomes a major world power.


indu asked, N. B. Nair, ANI: "Mr. Mulford, after the hype about the proposed agreement on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy between India and the United States, there seems to be a lull in New Delhi and Washington about the future of the deal. Is the United States prepared for a no-holds-barred cooperation in nuclear energy with India as enunciated in the joint declaration issued by both the countries at the end of President Bush's visit to India in March, given some apprehensions on the part of India?"
David Mulford answers, There is no lull in the process of implementing the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. The fact is this agreement is complicated and has many moving parts, including changing the US law in Congress, changing the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and creating a new India-specific protocol on safeguards with the IAEA. These things take time and further negotiation. The legislative process in the Congress is in the hands of the Congress now and will take time to result in the necessary change of law and acceptance of the new US-India bilateral agreement. Everyone needs patience and continued application to enable this unique exception to be made for India in the global non-proliferation architecture.


amit asked, Dear Sir, how would you rate CSFB (Credit Suisse First Boston) as a place to work?
David Mulford answers, From my experience, it is an outstanding place to work.


narain asked, Good day sir. What is Washington's position on Pakistan's continued training and support to terrorism? So much of terror infrastructure there is still intact. Every major terrorist has done his time in Pakistan(like Sheikh Khalid, Bin Laden, Richard Reid, Londen Bombers, Umar Sheikh etc). Pakistan has been a nuclear proliferator which has had trucks with countries like N.Korea. Obviously, Pakistan has done a lot worse than Iraq in every front be it helping islamic fundamentalism or running terror networks or spreading nukes etc.?
David Mulford answers, The President has made clear at all times that terrorism against innocent civilians anywhere in the world is unacceptable and to be condemned. He has made this clear to Pakistan and encouraged that country to make further efforts to reduce and eliminate the activities of terrorists. Pakistan has been cooperative in many ways with this effort, but we recognize there is more to be achieved. Nevertheless, some of the important inroads against global terrorism have been achieved with the cooperation of Pakistan. When terrorism occurs in India, we are as firmly opposed to this as anywhere in the world, including in the United States.


Danish asked, hi Mr. Mulford!! I want to ask one thing..why is the US supporting a military dictatorship in pakistan?
David Mulford answers, We support democracy in Pakistan and have made clear our interest in seeing Pakistan move towards further democratization. We also are committed to assisting Pakistan to improve its economy so that it is able to lift significantly the prosperity of its people. Pakistan has been an important country for the US in its efforts in Afghanistan and against global terrorism. We will continue to work closely with Pakistan and believe the rest of the world has a strong interest in improving Pakistan's economy and advancing democracy in that country.


nadeem asked, mr. mulford tell me something about condition of muslim in usa
David Mulford answers, Muslims in the United States enjoy the same rights and freedoms of all Americans. These include both civil liberties and religious freedom, not to mention the outstanding economic opportunities which have attracted many people, including Muslims, from all over the world. The Muslim population in America is a peaceful population that contributes positively to America.


Suresh asked, Ambassador When will the Hyderabad consulate, announced by President Bush during his visit to the twin cities open ?
David Mulford answers, We are hoping to establish the US Consulate in Hyderabad during 2007, to be opened early in the year 2008.


Amcentercal3 asked, Q from Somnath, Financial Express, Calcutta: Why is last year's nuclear deal attracting so much suspicion? Is there any way we can read the fine print, and the entire document? Plainly, what's going on?
David Mulford answers, There is no need for suspicion regarding the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. The agreement remains the same agreement agreed in July 2005 in Washington and concluded formally when President Bush visited India in March 2006. We are now engaged in negotiating certain detailed aspects of the bilateral agreement necessary to implement the deal and to seek the necessary change in law in the US Congress. No goalposts are being moved, no bars are being raised. It is just plain steady work to get the job done.


arshuks86 asked, Is the american economy resilient enough to bounce back after the recent hurricanes ??
David Mulford answers, The American economy has already bounced back after the Katrina hurricane. Growth has been solid, jobs have been created, inflation has been held in check, productivity figures are strong, interest rates have risen but are still historically relatively low and the stock market has performed well (except for the adjustment this past week). All in all, it's an outstanding economic performance which it is important to remember acts as an engine for world growth which means stronger economies in all the countries that have trade and investment relations with the US.


Fanindra asked, What is the probability of Indo-US nuke deal getting thru US legislative processes according to U?
David Mulford answers, The process will need patience, but the probability of success is high.


Angelina asked, Mr. Mulford, do u love being in India? Do u like the weather?
David Mulford answers, I love being in India, and the weather here is fine, including today when we have just had a very large rain in New Delhi. I also enjoy the Indian people, and I am very pleased that we are presently in the middle of mango season.


Ujval asked, Good afternoon to you Mr Mulford, I am interested to know how many american companies are interested in investing in India for outsourcing their present activities?
David Mulford answers, I believe there are approximately 1400 US companies registered in India. The US is the largest foreign direct investor in India, and has been for a number of years. I expect FDI by US companies to increase significantly as India opens its economy and continues to grow. There has also been outsourcing from the US to India but total number of jobs outsourced has been small when compared to the volume of jobs created every month in the United States.


ars_eco asked, what are the strategic areas in which the ustda and the indian minisitry of finance supposed to work ?? as a tie up was made b/w them on n0v 9 2005
David Mulford answers, The U.S. and India have agreed to continued consultations in the financial sector which covers banking, securities business, derivatives, institutional investment flows, money laundering and a variety of other subjects. This is important because India is becoming a major economy with a sophisticated financial sector. We believe further liberalization in India's financial sector is important for India and its future economic development. This field offers a rich area for exchange of views and cooperation.


kumar asked, hello Mr. Mulford, before coming to india you were the ambassador to argentina which was going through the financial crisis, u also worked in treasury dept. during Mr. reagen and Mr.Bush senior time , so how do u see India in coming Future regarding its economic and political progree?
David Mulford answers, I never served as U.S. Ambassador in Argentina. It is true I was active there in the financial business and was involved in some of the large privatizations done in Argentina in the 1990s. Between 1984 and 1992, I served as Assistant Secretary and later Under Secretary for International Affairs in the US Treasury. In this capacity, I had relations with a wide variety of countries because I served as G-7 deputy and was responsible for both IMF and World Bank affairs as regards the US Government. I was also deeply involved on issues of economic reform in countries all over the world, and that is one reason why I remain interested in the economic reform field in India because this is the way forward for India to continue growing at a steady rate and emerging as a major player on the world stage.


ars_eco asked, Do u see the indian prospective of 10% gdp growth REALISTIC??
David Mulford answers, 10% GDP growth for India is realistic, provided there is a strong and continuing committment to economic reform in a variety of critical areas. To achieve 10% GDP growth, it will be necessary to accomplish reforms in the agricultural sector that raise growth in that sector significantly above the current 2-3% level. The key is reform and the further opening of India's economy to the world. This is not easy to do, but it is possible to achieve.


Fanindra asked, Good morning Mr. Mulford, Can u guess when will it be that immigration from India becomes easy for intelligent Indian citizens?
David Mulford answers, It's already something intelligent Indians can and are doing. We are very glad to receive them.


Soha asked, Sir, What is the manin reason of highly rejection of students visae and does this restriction applies to higher studies like doctorate post doctorate scientific fields
David Mulford answers, As a matter of fact, there is a very high rate of issuance of visas for students who gain acceptance to American universities. This includes both undergraduate students and post-graduate students in virtually all fields of study. Today there are over 80,000 Indian students in America, the largest group of foreign students from any country in the world in the US. The other point worth making is that we ensure students needing visas get those visas in time to report for their classes in the US There have been very few failures in this effort. In other words, their record is outstanding.


AMCENTERCALFOUR asked, Q from Prithvijit Mitra, The Times Of India, Calcutta >> Is India an attractive an investment destination as China? If yes , why ?
David Mulford answers, Yes because it has a strong economy, a large, articulate and well-educated population, it is a democracy, it believes in rule of law and it has a sophisticated and well-supervised financial system. It is also a large market with a relatively youthful population. These are a few of the attractions and in some cases advantages India has over China.


gautam asked, respected sir, what does you & your country think about india. do you think that india has the capablity of emerging as a world power.
David Mulford answers, Yes. It is going to happen.


Zaps asked, Good evening His Excellency. What do you think of Inida's decision to stand Mr. Shashi Tharoor as a candidate for the UN Sec-Gen ?
David Mulford answers, This is a decision which is India's to make, and we respect that decision.


indu9 asked, Soumya Kirti: With the rising population of Indians on the US soil, do the US citizens feel threatened leading to racial disharmony? What would be the future of Indians in the US in the next say five years? Does US consider India as an advanced nation in Science and Technology? Does US consider anything Indian worth emulating in their own country in any walks of life ?
David Mulford answers, The rising population of Indians in America is welcome. We have more than 2 million Indians in America who are citizens and who make a valuable contribution to our country. They are in general well educated, friendly, successful, good citizens, believers in education, and productive members of the workforce. I am sure the population of Indians in America will grow over the next 5 years. We do consider India as a nation advanced in Science and Technology, and this is one of the reasons for our close relationship and a reason why the future between us in the world of knowledge is so bright. As to Indian influence, you can see this everywhere in America today, and it seems to be popular, whether it's food, entertainment, fashion, music, handicrafts, jewelry, computer whiz-kids, champion spellers or astronauts.


camp david asked, Good afternoon Mr.Ambassador, good to see u on rediff. Starting off broadly, are America's strategic planners finally beginning to see India's potential as a strategic partner in this side of the hemisphere, in this century and how would u comment on Mr.Bush's rather lavish farewell speech on his path-breaking tour of India?
David Mulford answers, I thought President Bush's departing speech at Purana Qila was a great speech for the future of the U.S. and India. I believe many people were inspired by this speech, including some sophisticated Indian intellectuals who were greatly surprised by the power, imagination and optimism portrayed by the President in that speech. Speaking at the Asia Society at the time of his trip, the President had this to say, "We have an ambitious agenda with India. Our agenda is practical. It builds on a relationship that has never been better. India is a global leader, as well as a good friend."


JITESH asked, I PERSONALLY FEEL THAT IF INDIA AND US BOTH WILL CO-OPERATE EACH OTHER IN FUTURE ALSO THEN WE WILL GROW TOGETHER.
David Mulford answers, I agree with this.


jeff asked, I am an IT professional working with a software development firm in mumbai.I have done MCA , I want to study further in US .Can I get a VISA.??
David Mulford answers, If you apply to and are accepted by a US university, you could certainly apply for a visa with a good chance of success.


JITESH asked, WHY US NOT SUPPORT INDIA ON PERMANENT SEAT MATTER IN UN?
David Mulford answers, The first priority for the US in the United Nations is to reform the United Nations to make it a more effective organization. Unless this is done there is little point in focusing on expanding the Security Council. Once reform is achieved, hopefully with the support of a large number of countries around the world including India, it will be appropriate to look at the question of expanding the Security Council.


abhinav asked, Hello Sir, This is Abhinav Sharma, Sir I would like to know United States stand on the issue of Indo-US defence co-operation specially in the field of aerospace co-operation. Sir how can we trust US when they have continully slaped us with sanctions before to?
David Mulford answers, We look forward to increased cooperation between the US and India in the fields of defense, aeornautics and space. Many of the complex problems left over from the period of sanctions have been resolved, and with the type of relationship our two countries are now developing we should all be confident of expanding significantly cooperation in these fields. In fact cooperation is already growing and with it confidence is building on both sides which will stand us well into the future.


RAMAKRISHNA asked, CONVEY MY REGARDS TO YOUR FAMILY
David Mulford answers, I would like to thank you for sending greetings to my family, and expressing the hope that I am doing well. I appreciate very much the opportunity of answering questions today for you and all other participants in this webchat. I am sorry I could not answer every question, but perhaps we can do this again. Thanks to rediff for hosting and for all of you participating with interesting and well-stated questions. Signing off, and have a great weekend. Ambassador David C. Mulford


Complete coverage: The Bush Visit | The Bush Visit Chats | The nuclear deal