No one in America knows India
as well as Marshall does
Many descriptions will fit
Marshall Bouton, but the
most appropriate would be
‘Friend of India’, says
I have a career-long interest in Asia
and India, in particular’, said
Marshall Bouton, as he was preparing
to leave the presidency of the Chicago
Council on Global Affairs recently.
His early interest in India had brought him
to New Delhi in the late 70s as the special
assistant to Ambassador Robert Goheen.
As the special assistant, the gate keeper
and shuffler of papers to the then foreign secretary of India, Ambassador Jagat Mehta, it
was my pleasure to work with Marshall
Bouton and his peers in the various diplomatic missions.
Marshall was the most striking of them all
and I recall the many times I met Marshall to
discuss important issues. I noticed how
thoughtful, sensitive and efficient he was as a
More than anything else, what moved him
was his interest in and involvement with
India. One issue we worked together was
making arrangements for supply of red sandstone from Rajasthan for the Asia Society
building in New York.
After those early beginnings, I watched
Marshall growing into an authority on India
and indeed on world affairs.
During my various assignments to New
York and Washington, I had several opportunities to interact with him on a wide variety
of issues. Many descriptions will fit him, but
the most appropriate will be ‘Friend of India,’
the way India Abroad describes him to honor
him for his contribution to India-US friendship.
From an old sherpa to another, I congratulate him and wish him success in his future
India could not
have a better
advocate, and an
notes Tarun Das.
The Boutons in
India. Bouton has
the benefit of
the views and
with his own perceptions and
COURTES Y: MARSHALL BOU TON
have known Marshall Bouton forever and ever. He has
been the same for several decades except for the thinning
No one in America knows India as well as Marshall
From his early days of living in the country, he has sustained
his connection, built friendships and relationships which are
long-term and enduring.
He has the benefit of connecting with Indians from diverse
backgrounds, and he synthesizes the views and feedback and
comes through with his own perceptions and views, analysis and
Underlying all of this is Marshall’s commitment to India. Be it
at the Asia Society or at the Chicago Council for Global Affairs as
President, he has been constant in his support for, and friendship
He is, in fact, India’s unofficial ambassador to the USA and,
indeed, to the world.
India could not have a better spokesperson, an articulate and
sincere advocate, a cheerleader extraordinary who is constantly
seeking out India’s positives and putting aside India’s many challenges as overcome-able than him.
In the history and evolution of India-US relations from the
Cold War to now, Marshall has seen it all. The distance and distrust between the two countries to start with, which lasted over
And, then, the warming of relations with President Clinton’s
visit in March 2000, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s quick
return visit the same year, the leadership provided by President
Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
From a very limited trade and investment relationship, India
and the US, today, have charted, together, new avenues of part-
nership. Investment has become a two-way street with Indian
companies increasing their presence, investment and employ-
ment in the USA.
T P Sreenivasan is a former Indian ambassador.
Tarun Das is an active crusader for the promotion of Indian
industry. He headed the Confederation of Indian Industry for
over three decades.
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