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NEW DELHI - India has reason to be happy over the appointment of the two people who will ostensibly command US foreign and strategic relations with the rest of the world in the second administration of President George W Bush. The next secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, as well as the next national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, have played key roles in a paradigm shift in US policy toward India, incorporating long-standing demands as well as removing India's grouses in US policy toward India.
Rice, whose nomination follows Colin Powell's announcement on Monday of his resignation, is considered the original architect of an expanded relationship with India and in giving it high priority and a fresh focus in the Bush administration. The Indian Foreign Ministry was never comfortable working with Powell, who despite being the lone moderate voice and other achievements, was not a Bush confidant and did not share the president's larger vision of India. On the other hand, unlike with his boss in the US, Powell enjoyed a personal rapport with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, referred to here as "general-to-general speak", that India was never comfortable with. Rice had to face several roadblocks by State Department mandarins (under Powell) who tried to dilute the agreements as well as expand the benchmarks for further cooperation. She will be their boss now.
A September 2000 interview with The International Economy sums up Rice's views on foreign policy vis-a-vis India. She said: "We need to encourage new centers of stability, new centers of prosperity. Let me give you an example: India. This is a country that we have generally treated as if it is simply a nuclear problem and a problem concerning Kashmir, and that's all we ever talk about with India. But this is an emerging knowledge economy that has a real place in the new international economy."
As the main foreign-policy adviser to candidate Bush in the presidential campaign of 2000, Rice argued in an article published in Foreign Affairs that the United States "should pay closer attention to India's role in the regional balance". She went on: "There is a strong tendency conceptually [in the US] to connect India with Pakistan and to think only of Kashmir or the nuclear competition between the two states. But India is an element in China's calculation, and it should be in America's, too. India is not a great power yet, but it has the potential to emerge as one."