Today, India celebrates 64 years of freedom and independence. In those 64 years it has progressed from a backwards backwater of the fragmenting empire into a global nuclear superpower and America's most important ally in Asia.
64 years ago, a man named Mohandas Gandhi realized what colonialism had done to his country. And he chose to fight. Though he wore only a simple, home-spun dhoti, he fought with the same courage and perseverance that Washington did in his blue jacket and musket. Gandhi did not fight with arms, he fought with words. He created a network of people all dedicated to one thing and one thing alone-freedom for India. He united Hindus and Sikhs, Moslems and Christians, Jains and Buddhists. He did not see whether people were rich or poor, he saw whether they wanted oppression or liberty. And thanks to him and other brave visionaries of the time, India is now a free and prosperous country.
In a continent dominated by news of the bully of Asia China, India is often outshadowed. But America should not ignore this friend of a billion people. Rather, America should view it as the anti-China. While China's growth has been on the back of oppression and suppression, India's has been on the back of free-market reforms and democracy.
Despite the attempts by Pakistan to destroy this, India remains a peaceful country. Neither the terrible Mumbai attacks (in which 4 Americans died) or the more recent bombings have changed this.
The latest and last bastion of the free market is in India. There, no-one is afraid to be rich. Despite the jungle of red tape and regulation yet to be cut, a street merchant can become a millionaire. Indian outsourcing firms handle huge amounts of American business. Indian factories manufacture vast amounts of American goods. America should not view this as a threat, a competitor, but as a synergy, a partner in the free market with which to trade, to business and to see mutual gain.
There is a definite sense that China is taking over Asia and fighting a war of economies with America, a war in which America seems doomed to lose. But by holding India close and keeping it strong, America gains an unshakable ally, an ally who will fight to the death for liberty.
In the backstreets of Chennai and Madras, in the glass-and-steel towers of Bangalore, in the rural backwaters of Kerala, India looks to America. It sees America as a vindication of sorts, living physical proof that democracy and liberty will lead to prosperity. That America, another country which fought tyranny and won, is a shining example of how India seeks to be.
So once again, happy birthday India. And may the alliance between India and America grow stronger, and may their shared yearning for liberty become the key to the world changing for the better.