Rating: 4/5

The United States insipid in its ratiocination and a reprehensible folly, squeezing in ‘what not matters’ in a tarpaulin of avaricious pic-micks, makes every move seem like a pathologic de rigueur. On the flip side, India bolstered by its ideological sharpness, retroussé, signals ‘what matters’ to act as a stepping stone to keep bilateral bonhomie.

Both the countries are in a radar trap for nearly two decades, not just because of their ethnicity and religious preferences but also due to an unfavourable strategic alliance. Their precarious titillations are backed by obstreperous fundamentals, invariably looked as a bull with repugnant horns plotting to attack. Haven’t we all witnesses the beleaguered protracted saga of the two nations incarnadined by esoteric negotiations or the political Zeitgeist? What about the misbegotten policies, a pell mell; unsavoury and open to recriminations?

Friends, least to say, the Indo-US relationship is like a feisty clown that camouflages its real essence to appear as a fragmented do-gooder rioting the incoherent sheepishness of its neighbours and the internal salvage of pretentious insecurities. “Friends with Benefits” by Seema Sirohi talks about palpable round of talks, negotiations and extrapolations that have made them friends of necessity.

A story it is, once upon a time under the palanquin of megalomania sat the not so humble ‘United States.’ After being stuck in an unwinning war with Vietnam, it pressed hard its knuckles to clench the supremacy of Soviet Union enshrined in the harbour of Afghanistan. A penchant for power, I must say, nibbles the wisdom from the wise. And the juxtaposition of any element that favours their song reprise is a pullulative pawn. Pakistan in its priggish vanity is a sorcerer that cast a spell on the United States—a magic that promised a nefarious hand in return of financial and economic assistance.

India is punctilious as any aggression from its side is labelled as ‘immoral’. From far above, one then sees kites of recherché sanctions flaring up the sky to fall directly on the Indian soil. India tends to play safe and is adamant not to break its foreign policy molecule.

The result is a relationship controlled by circumstantial favourability, a gain-no gain solution, a parabola of skirmishes and deference towards one’s susceptibility to be cushioned by neck by the rabble-rousers. A perfect synchronization of formidable polemics and pusillanimous vendettas has been stentoriously expounded in the book “Friends with Benefits” by Seema Sirohi.

A senior journalist based in Washington specializing in foreign policy, Seema is insightful and conscientious to bring out the archetype apoplectics and euphemisms hanging both the nations at the ripper’s edge.

I am reminded of this wonderstruck story of “The Three Pigs and the Wolf”; who else the wolf other than the Machiavellian ‘United States’ boating its simulacrum rhapsody of ‘me, my ego’ to lay down the three pigs (Pakistan, Afghanistan and India) under the bushes of obfuscated triumphs.

Pakistan—a disordered territory of recidivist minds, brutally huffed and puffed by United States for its personal gains.

Afghanistan—a war-struck territory pounced on insidiously by United States to recover from the ignominious defeat in Vietnam.

India—hard core analyst of the US-Pak-Afg triumvirate, and its brick territory is a shield for any usurpation. 

So, here India becomes a tough nut to crack, recalcitrant to the hubristic vices of America. The Non-Proliferation Treaty, a soignee parameter for countries to avoid use of nuclear weapons was brutally rejected by India causing a massive stir among the strait-laced America. The subsequent test of Nuclear Weapons was like rails passing through the black hole; invasively giving rise to numerous sanctions. Many more grounds have been broken causing enmity followed by rapprochement. The book creates a narrative shading a chiaroscuro of warmth and bitterness between both the countries.

Pakistan as a raison de ire, America’s best pal to carry the Afghan invasion and helping to hold discourses with the Taliban and the close proximity to China for economic and strategic ties has always left India to plough the soil by itself. Terrorism was an unidentifiable territory for the United States but after 9/11 attacks, all hell broke loose and it became a dance of the mute for both the nations to fight against the catastrophe.

The book shapes each and every action as it happened; the war turf of charred edges and ignominy of being fish out of water. A story of pleas, glees, and chicanery at its best!


Stupendously researched with staggering details between United States and India, not known to many.

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Naseer Akhter
Naseer Akhter
1 year ago

A lot of verbiage pretending, rather unsuccessfully, to be an essay on geostrategy of a turbulent region.

Rating: 2.00/5. From 1 vote.
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