Book Review: ‘Friends With Benefits: The India-US Story’ by Seema Sirohi

A good book on international ties between India and US


Book Title: Friends With Benefits: The India-US Story
Author: Seema Sirohi
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Number of Pages: 496
ISBN: 978-9356295902
Date Published: Jan. 19, 2023
Price: INR 454

Friends with Benefits by Seema Sirohi Book Cover

Book Review

Seema Sirohi, a long-time foreign journalist for Indian newspapers in Washington, analyses Indo-US ties in her book “Friends With Benefits: The India-US Story” She examines the ups and downs of this relationship from the early 1990s to the present. The book emphasizes India’s need to rebalance its foreign policy following the Cold War’s conclusion, the obstacles given by the US’s emphasis on non-proliferation and its favoritism towards Pakistan, and the consequent breakthroughs and challenges that molded bilateral ties.

The book outlines significant occasions in India’s internal politics and geopolitical backdrops, such as India’s nuclear testing in 1998 and the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, the book emphasizes the difficult task of breaking through the established legislative and bureaucratic attitude in the United States on nuclear proliferation. It recognizes the role of visionary leaders in both countries in attaining achievement and emphasizes the importance of the Indo-US nuclear pact in releasing India from technology restriction regimes.

It also contains significant insights in its nine chapters dedicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tenure, which grasp entirely his role in developing India’s foreign policy. Unlike other portrayals that show Modi as a compelling person or a demonized character, Sirohi provides a balanced view of Modi’s effect.

Sirohi also looks at the effects of previous US administrations, such as the difficulties brought on by President Clinton’s choice of Robin Raphel, who was pro-Pakistan, and the shifting circumstances under Presidents Obama and Trump. The establishment of the Quad in 2007 is briefly mentioned, and the book analyses how well the Indian diaspora has lobbied the US Congress on topics about India. Finally, it considers the dangers that internal politics in both nations could offer to develop Indo-US ties in the future.

Friends With Benefits: The India-US Story” also explores the complicated US-India relationship from the partition to the present, providing insightful analysis and behind-the-scenes stories. Despite having a pro-India slant, it offers a complex study of US politicians beyond traditional party distinctions. Sirohi primarily focuses on the Clinton and post-Clinton years, drawing on her vast experience as a journalist covering India-US ties. The book ends before the Biden administration but covers every US government.

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As a result, Seema Sirohi’s “Friends With Benefits: The India-US Story,” with its colorful and insightful book cover, presents a complete history of Indo-US ties, highlighting significant moments, problems, and breakthroughs. It delves into the relationship’s intricacies, the evolution of policy agendas, and the involvement of prominent leaders. The book digs into India’s challenges with non-proliferation standards, the relevance of the Indo-US nuclear agreement, and the influence of domestic politics on bilateral relations.

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