American Tensions With India On Global Warming Put Hillary Clinton Back In News

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

So Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first major trip abroad in her new post has finally shone the spotlight on her, and shifted it away from her always-camera-ready commander in chief. But is this a good thing? Last week the Web world was agog over suspicions that President Obama was purposely stealing center stage from his very popular secretary of state--as his own public approval ratings were beginning to tumble. But in the middle of her Indian tour, ripples in the normally smooth U.S.-Indian relationship began to appear over climate change:

But the clash between developed and developing countries over climate change intruded on the high-profile photo opportunity midway through Clinton's three-day tour of India. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh complained about U.S. pressure to cut a worldwide deal, and Clinton countered that the Obama administration's push for a binding agreement would not sacrifice India's economic growth.

So maybe staying out of the limelight has been a good thing for the secretary?

While major media outlets focused on the tussle over climate change, I was more interested in her remarks on U.S.-Indian relations and food security. She praised India for making progress in establishing food security.

Remember when American parents told their children to clean their plates because children were starving in India? Starvation in India is no longer the problem it once was. And Secretary of State Clinton made it sound as if India could become the food production capital of the world. But that doesn't mean starvation is gone forever. Far from it. The BBC reported earlier this month on severe water shortages in Mumbai.

There's a drought in Mumbai and nearby. But in India's so-called Bread Basket, Punjab, water tables have been dropping precipitously for years as farmers drill ever deeper to meet agricultural water needs. Many acres of prime farm land have turned to dust due to overuse of fertilizer, and eco-experts predict food shortages may soon revisit India in a big way.

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By Bonnie Erbe