Books For You: How effective is the Open Embrace between Trump and Modi?

Editor | Non-fiction

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have built their politics on the promise of making their countries ‘great again’. Placing India and the US as leaders on the world stage is the stated objective of their respective foreign policies, based as they are on the assumption that both inherited a mess from their predecessors. Both are trying to re-litigate the notions of self, enemy and allies in their respective .

Varghese K. George, in Open Embrace, provides an overview of the changes occurring in America’s relations with the world under the Trump presidency and what it means for India. While Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush emphasized that the US’s relations with India would shape the twenty-first century, Trump’s ‘America First’ politics is a repudiation of the nation’s strategic culture. Trump’s alignment with Modi’s world view-what George calls the Hindutva Strategic Doctrine-and the US’s changing relationships with India’s neighbours, Pakistan and China, form a crucial part of this narrative.

Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament, author and statesman, said: “Open Embrace is an outstanding work-a superb analysis of the state of Indo-US relations in the Modi-Trump era, with a lucid explication of the Hindutva Strategic Doctrine and detailed discussions of Indian and US policy differences on China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Marked by meticulous research, conscientious reporting and lucid commentary, this is a highly readable book that should be required reading for anyone who seeks to go beyond the headlines to the substance of policy. A triumph!”

Walter Andersen, senior adjunct professor of South Asia studies, Johns Hopkins University, said: “’Open Embrace is very different from most other studies on the subject. It uses an analytical perspective that draws on both political sociology and international relations. It addresses the impact of a growing nationalism in India and the US on their conduct of diplomacy. The author compares the foreign policy implications of President Trump’s “Make America Great” and Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalism. Readers may differ on both his description of these notions and their impact on foreign policy, but he asks the right questions and his analysis is always riveting.”

About the author

Varghese K. George is the associate editor and US correspondent for The Hindu. Earlier, he was the political editor of the daily, based in New Delhi. He has written extensively on politics, political economy, society, and the foreign policy of India and the US, particularly on the rise of Modi in India and Trump in America.

Prior to joining The Hindu, he was chief of bureau at Hindustan Times. He has also worked for the Indian Express in various roles. His reports have won several awards, including the Ramnath Goenka Journalist of the Year, the Prem Bhatia Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Reporting, the Transparency International Award for fighting corruption and the International Press Institute Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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