Indeed, enthusiasm for India in Washington may wax or wane over the next four years, but arguably this will depend less on who occupies the White House than on who occupies the prime minister’s residence at 7 Race Course Road. Over the past two years, faced with a global slowdown and a lack of reforms, India’s once red-hot economy has cooled sharply. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the Indian economy will grow at 4.9 percent this year, half as fast as the 9.8 percent it managed at its peak in 2007. Simply put, India’s strategic importance in Asia — whether as a counterweight to China or a beacon of democracy and pluralism — depends on its ability to put its economy back on the rails. Both a President Romney and a President Obama will hope that recent reforms, which include an opening of India’s retail, insurance, and aviation sectors, take hold, and that India’s fractured politics doesn’t derail its economic prospects.
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