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As President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama perhaps enjoyed their in-flight Bollywood entertainment and tandoori chicken en route to Mumbai, the world around them was a buzz about whom the President and First Lady will meet, what they will wear, and what this trip will
President Obama is heading to India today on a state visit that is fraught with expectations and hopes on both sides. His two predecessors, each in his own way, made a lasting impression on India. President Clinton’s reaching out to the Indian people nearly ten years ago erupted in a spontaneous dance with a group of illiterate rural women in Rajasthan, and the president etched himself in the Indian psyche as the modern day Lord Krishna—the legendary lover-god of Indian mythology. President Bush endeared himself to Indians by pushing through the civil nuclear deal, whose real import was the signal that: “You, India, are one of us.” Lacking the natural press-fleshing charms of Clinton, and the goodies that Bush had to offer, President Obama will have to find his own, cerebral, route to winning the hearts and minds of Indians. Here’s a book and movie list for President Obama that might help understand four dimensions of India: society and culture, history, religion, and cricket.
Last month, the Indian Express reported that India might not accept aid from the United Kingdom after April 2011. India has been the largest single recipient of British aid, receiving more than €800m (about $1.25b) since 2008. This announcement is perhaps symbolic of the fine line that India is walking between being a “developed” and “developing” country. It is the eleventh largest economy in the world, growing 8-9% annually. But it is also home to one-third of the world’s poor—there are more poor people in India than in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Nonetheless, over the past decade, India has quietly transitioned to a donor country, emerging on the world stage as a significant provider of development assistance.