Challenges India, US face are from authoritarian nations like China, Russia: Ex-US diplomat Nicholas Burns

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NEW DELHI: India and the United States can work together not to fight an "authoritarian" China but to make it observe the rule of law, former US diplomat and Harvard professor Nicholas Burns said on Friday in a conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
"I think that India and the US can be working together. Not as you say not to fight China, but to make it observe the rule of law as we try to live together in this world," he told Gandhi as part of the series of interactions by the Congress leader.
Gandhi said the Indo-US partnership works because being tolerant was in their DNA, but that level of tolerance, which was seen before, is not being seen now in both the countries.
"We're supposed to accept new ideas. We're supposed to be open, but the surprising thing is that DNA, that open DNA, is sort of disappearing. I mean, I say this with sadness that I don't see that level of tolerance that I used to see. I don't see it in the United States and I don't see it in India," Gandhi observed.
His remarks came in the wake of countrywide protests in the US over the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody.
The Indo-US relationship, which used to be a partnership earlier, now seems to have become "very transactional" and "episodic", the former Congress chief said.
"A relationship that used to be very broad -- education, defence, healthcare, multiple fronts -- has sort of focused down mainly on defence," Gandhi said.
Burns, the former US under-secretary of State and the chief negotiator of the India-US nuclear deal under the Bush administration, said not just the governments of the US and India, but their societies were very closely intertwined and that is a great strength.
"If you think that one of the challenges we face is the coming power of authoritarian countries. I mentioned two before, China and Russia. We never want to fight, we don't want war but we want to preserve our way of life and we want to preserve our positions in the world," he said.
Burns asserted that this is the reason the relationship between India and the US is important.
The US and Indian governments should combine forces to promote human freedom, democracy and rule of people in the world, he said and called for encouraging movement of people and exchanges between the two countries.
"I think that is a powerful idea that Indians and Americans can bring together to the rest of the world. Again, you know, we are not looking for a conflict with China, but we are waging, in a way, a battle of ideas with China," Burns said.
During the conversation, Gandhi also hit out at the divisions prevailing in both the countries, saying they weaken nations.
"When you divide African Americans, Mexicans and other people in the United States, so you divide Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs in India, you're weakening the structure of the country. But then the same people who weaken the structure of the country say tt they are the nationalists,” he said.

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