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'I thought India was pretty jammed with poor people and cows wandering around the streets, witch doctors and people sitting on hot coals and bathing in the Ganges, but I did not realize that anybody thought it was important.' - PRESIDENT TRUMAN TO AMBASSADOR CHESTER BOWLES, 1951
From Truman's remark to now, it has been a long journey. India and the US, which share common values and should have been friends, found themselves caught in a dysfunctional cycle of resentment and mistrust for the first few decades following Indian independence. In A Matter of Trust, author Meenakshi Ahamed reveals the personal prejudices and insecurities of the leaders, and the political imperatives, that so often cast a shadow over their relationship.
The cycle began with India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who viewed Americans as naive and insular, but it was under Indira Gandhi that India entered the darkest phase of its relations with the US. President Truman decided Nehru was a communist, and the White House tapes reveal Nixon's hatred towards Mrs Gandhi and Indians. It was only after India undertook major economic reforms in the 1990s that the relationship improved. The transformation occurred when President George W. Bush signed the historic nuclear deal in 2008 with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Meenakshi Ahamed draws on a unique trove of presidential papers, newly declassified documents, memoirs and interviews with officials directly involved in events on both sides to put together this illuminating account of their relationship that has far-reaching implications for the changing global political landscape.
About the Author
Meenakshi Ahamed is a freelance journalist and has written on American foreign policy for publications such as Foreign Policy, The Asian Age, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Seminar. She was the London correspondent for NDTV from 1989-1996. Meenakshi holds a post-graduate degree from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, in development economics and public health. She is based in Washington, DC and New York City.
'Meenakshi Ahamed has, brilliantly, combined her talent as an accomplished journalist with her assiduous historical research to tell the tale of two great democracies. She brings to life the leaders in both counties, with their views and prejudices. A masterpiece.' -- Strobe Talbott, Former Deputy Secretary of State and President of The Brookings Institution
'Meenakshi Ahamed has given us an authentic, thoughtful and accessible account of a relationship characterized by paradox and progress. She tells the tale of the highs and lows of that relationship in all its drama, with strong and idiosyncratic personalities on both sides. Today's transformed India-US relations could determine the future not only of one-fifth of humanity but of the Asian Century. This is a book with a serious message- one to read and savour.' -- Shivshankar Menon, Former National Security Advisor, Ambassador to China and Foreign Secretary
'In this world of growing great power competition, the Indian-American relationship has become one of central, strategic importance to the two nations. In her history of the relationship, Meena Ahamed has given us a timely, lively and captivating account of the road India and the United States have travelled and a compelling insight into what lies ahead.' -- Frank G. Wisner, Former United States Ambassador to India
'Meenakshi Ahamed's labour of love is a real tour de force covering the long tortuous history of the often-troubled relationship of the world's two largest democracies since India's independence. The book is at once scholarly, deeply researched and yet down to earth. It brings to life the prickly personalities on both sides, and their sensitivities, that often bedevilled the evolving bilateral relationship. As a new era of competitive geopolitics pits West versus East, what lies ahead for this unusual relationship? To prepare ourselves this book is a must-read.' -- Dr Rakesh Mohan, Former Deputy Governor Reserve Bank of India