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Monday, April 18, 2005

More good news from India and Pakistan


The leaders of India and Pakistan agreed to accelerate measures intended to promote trade and normal relations Sunday, adding momentum to peace efforts but yielding no tangible progress on the volatile issue of Kashmir. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, met in the Indian capital for two hours Sunday after watching the opening of a cricket match between the Indian and Pakistani national teams that Pakistan later won. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the summit.
The fact that these two nations are talking at all is extremely important. Kashmir will be a tough issue to settle, but I expect that they will eventually be able to work out something equitable. There has been a lot of talk that the next century won't be an American century, but a Chinese century. I don't think so. I think it will be another American Century, but if it isn't, my next bet is it will be an Indian Century. Yes, India has a lot of problems, but they also have an energy an dynamism that China lacks. Authoritarianism makes it easier to bootstrap a nation into the world economy, but the very strengths that get you there make it tough to fully adapt when needed. In addition, China has some demographic problems that are going to be very tough to solve. It is getting old very fast, and the male-to-female imbalance is going to be very tough on social structures. Actually, I sort of think this century may be the century when such ideas as an 'American Century' or an 'Indian Century' stop meaning anything. Globalization is tearing down those walls at a pretty impressive pace and certainly looks like it will continue to do so for a while. I think that it is likely that by the end of this century country you are in won't matter very much at all, it will be an interesting fact, like who your ancestors were, but other than that, it won't make a lot of difference. The world will become one big melting pot, which I guess will make it an American Century after all.


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