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Tobin Harshaw

Will India Balance China in Asia? The U.S. Can Only Hope

A Q&A with Brookings scholar Tanvi Madan about the shared interests and mutual suspicions of the world’s two biggest democracies.

Partial alignment

Partial alignment

Photographer: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

India, we are constantly reminded, is the world’s largest democracy. But what else is it?

Is it a burgeoning economic powerhouse, or a looming economic basket case? Is it an impressive technocracy capable of giving more than 1 billion people national ID’s, or the bumbling idiocracy suffering the world’s worst Covid-19 crisis? Is it the vital Asian ally helping the West check the threat of China’s global ambitions, or a military weakling unable to keep Beijing from slowly annexing its territory? In sum, what are we to make of the land Mark Twain called “the cradle of the human race”?