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Iconic India
Text by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh and Priyanka Joshi
Published: Volume 16, Issue 6, June, 2008
Subtle and powerful influences of India can be seen in a myriad ways – through the energetic tale of Kalbermatten’s The Legend of Dagad Trikon, to the geo-political analysis of Asian power struggles in Bill Emmott’s Rivals and the theory of making the world a better place by following in Emperor Ashoka’s footsteps in Bruce Rich’s To Uphold the World. Three diverse international writers, masters in their fields, talk about their inspirational trysts with India

Asia On Top
Editor of leading business weekly, The Economist from 1993 to 2006, during which time he managed to double the magazine’s circulation, author of eight books, including six on Japan, Bill Emmott arrived in India to launch his latest journal on the geo-political mathematics of the Asian stronghold. Rivals proclaims that the power struggle between China, India and Japan will certainly shape the next decade of world politics and economics.

Did the years at The Economist develop your interest in Asia?
My first interest in Asia arose in 1983 when I was posted as The Economist’s Tokyo correspondent, at 27, with no exp–erience in Asia. I spent three fascinating and formative years there and I travelled extensively in East Asia, privately. When I was promoted to become editor-in-chief in 1993, one of the themes that I thought was most important was the rise of the emerging markets, especially China.

What is India’s position in the trium–virate vis-à-vis China?
India is lagging about 15 years behind China in terms of economic development. And yet, while Chinese growth and openness was the most important devel–opment in the 1990s, in this decade it is Indian growth and openness that is most important. India is going to become a second hub economy of Asia. More important, India’s emergence means that China cannot and will not dominate Asia.

What do you believe is Sonia Gandhi’s role in international politics?
Sonia Gandhi is a positive symbol for India in international terms, but I do not see her playing a large role in international politics. The role that she plays in domestic Indian politics, that of leading and guiding Congress from outside the government, really limits the sort of international role she can or should take.

Have you explored India extensively?
I have made journeys around South India, from Chennai through Tamil Nadu into Kerala and Karnataka, as well as the usual tourist trail around North India and Rajasthan. I have also visited the cities—Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore. I am fond of Indian carvings and of art in general. My house in the English countryside (in Exmoor National Park in Somerset, south-west England) is also full of Japanese woodblock prints and painted screens and Chinese scrolls and ceramics.

What has been the reaction to your theory about the Asian power struggle?
From the governments inside Asia, the main response has been to deny that their countries are rivals in any way, for of course they wish to avoid seeming confrontational. On the other hand, the private reaction has been very positive. As events unfold in Asia, I think people are finding my framework helpful for understanding what is going on.