India gets high praise in Republican platform

Seeking a stronger relationship with India, the Republican Party platform set to be adopted as the foreign policy plank of its presidential candidate Mitt Romney, urges New Delhi to permit greater foreign investment and trade.

"We welcome a stronger relationship with the world's largest democracy, India, both economic  and cultural, as well as in terms of national security," says the platform  posted on the Republican National Committee's website ahead of the party's national convention in Tampa, Florida.

The convention that would formally anoint Romney as the party's presidential candidate gets underway Tuesday with its schedule pushed back a day over concerns about the tropical storm Issac even as it passed well west of Tampa Monday.

"We encourage India to permit greater foreign investment and trade. We urge protection for adherents of all  India's religions," says the platform that also praises the contributions of Indian-Americans.

"Both as Republicans and as Americans, we note with pride the contributions to this  country that are being made by our fellow citizens of Indian ancestry."

"We hereby affirm and declare that India is our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner," the party platform said.

The Republican platform "arguably lavishes more praise on India than on any country mentioned  in the document except Israel and Taiwan", says Uri Friedman in his blog post in influential Foreign Policy magazine.

The passage relating to India particularly stands out when compared with the more businesslike language employed in the 2008 Republican  platform, he says.

While the 2008 Democratic platform praised India as a "natural strategic ally", the Republicans then simply said, "We welcome America's new relationship with India, including the US-India Civil Nuclear Accord."

"Our common security concerns and shared commitment to political freedom and representative government can be the foundation for an enduring partnership."

Reflective of the growing political importance of Indian-Americans, the two Indian-American governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and  South Carolina's Nikki Haley were invited to be headliners at the Republican convention.

While Jindal, who was scheduled to address the convention Wednesday, is skipping it with Issac bearing down on his state, Haley - born Nimrata (Nikki) Randhawa to Sikh immigrant parents from India - is set to speak at prime time Tuesday.

In a move aimed  at providing a healing touch to the Sikh community in the aftermath of the  Wisconsin gurdwara shooting, Ishwar Singh, a Sikh faith leader, will offer the invocation at convention Wednesday.

Noting that only around 500,000 Indian-Americans are expected to vote nationwide in the November election, Friedman wrote: "But what they lack in numbers they contribute in some measure in money and activism." "No other ethnic  group outside white, African-Americans, and Latinos - including Chinese-American  and Filipino-Americans who are numerically larger groups than Indians - have as many political heavyweights," he noted.

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