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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 10:52 GMT
Head to head: Bush visit to India

The visit of US President George W Bush has generated considerable debate in India particularly among college students. Two Delhi college students present contrasting views to the BBC News website on whether the American president is a welcome visitor.

MOHAMMAD JUNAID, JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY

I am protesting against George W Bush's visit to India because I think the United States is forcing us to give up our independent foreign policy. We need to recognise that we have our own national interest which is not in conformity with US national interest.

Look at China, which is often compared to us.

My message to Bush is stop giving us this rhetoric about democracy. Stop killing people in the name of democracy

China is not very proactive in the international stage but it is not toeing the line either. It has an independent foreign policy and despite this gets more foreign investment from the US when compared to India.

We on the other hand always cow down to what the US says. For instance, take Iran with whom we have had pretty good relations for years.

Recently, we have gone along with the United States and voted against Iran at the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) - a move that has jeopardised our plans to build a gas pipeline with Iran.

It is not surprising to note that the pipeline is in our interest but not in the interest of the United States.

India as a responsible, growing power should recognise that such U-turns in foreign policy send a wrong signal to the world. We should be consistent in our foreign policy.

A pipeline from Iran through Pakistan can also help our relationship with Pakistan, and we should have stuck to that. In the long term, what are we going to get with the nuclear cooperation deal [that India and the US has signed].

The entire scientific community is against it. By allowing international inspection of our nuclear facilities, we are hampering our independent research.

Iran is one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world and could help solve India's energy crisis in the future.

My message to Bush is stop giving us this rhetoric about democracy. Stop killing people in the name of democracy.

We know from American history how many democracies you have throttled and how many dissidents you have muzzled.

In your own country, what are you doing to your people - to the African-Americans, the Hispanics? What are you doing to other communities around the world in the name of democracy? It is not democracy.

ADITYA MAHAJAN, ST STEPHEN'S COLLEGE

I certainly believe India should welcome George W Bush. Let's not forget when our Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, went to the United States last year, he got a very warm welcome, a standing ovation. So we should not overlook that or rally against this visit.

We have a lot in common with the United States. We are both thriving democracies, we have similar values

I believe it's a big asset to be a partner of the strongest democracy in the world, one of the most powerful countries in the world. It's a very positive move by our government.

In the 1970s, our nuclear status was bitterly opposed by the United States. Now the US recognises our status and we are about to sign a landmark deal. It is clear they need us.

It shows how strong India has become today. It takes a democracy to recognise a democracy. Dictatorships, on the other hand, fall in line, like Pakistan has.

I certainly believe that if we can open our economy to the Chinese companies, to the British companies, then American companies deserve a place in our economy.

During the last US elections, there was a lot of rhetoric about the Indian call centres, business processing centres and how they were taking jobs away from Americans.

But President Bush has supported our economic development. America has realised the potential of India. It has seen that we are a big market.

The amount of investment we get from the United States is far greater than what we get from elsewhere. That is one reason we have a thriving economy today. It is benefiting us in a big way.

I do not agree with those who say we are becoming too American, that we are losing our values.

Indian values are now recognised and cherished in the West. Spiritual leaders like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, yoga and vegetarianism are all gaining in popularity in the United States.

This is our contribution to them. Any democracy which needs to thrive needs to thrive on strong social structures. And both India and the United States have that.

Earlier Indians used to go to America for better opportunities. Now the same people are coming back here for greater opportunities.

Seventy percent of my family lives in California. Indian Americans have succeeded greatly in that country, particularly in Silicon Valley.

They have contributed towards changing the perception of India among Americans.

We have a lot in common with the United States. We are both thriving democracies, we have similar values.

This is why President Bush is coming here and why I think we should extend him a very warm welcome.



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