18. Shivshankar Menon
for dragging India out of its global nonalignment.
National security advisor | India
India famously clung to its aloof foreign policy for years after the end of the Cold War rendered meaningless the concept of nonalignment that it had long embraced. A career diplomat who is now national security advisor, Shivshankar Menon has helped break New Delhi of this habit, drawing India closer to the West.
Menon was a key player in negotiating a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, which cemented India's cooperation on nonproliferation issues with the international community. Today, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's foreign-policy guru, he is building on that breakthrough to expand U.S.-India ties on a wide array of issues, including efforts to fight the global economic recession. In a recent visit to Washington, he reminded his audience that U.S. exports to India have grown faster over the last five years than those to any other major trading partner.
Menon has also embraced the NATO-led coalition's effort in Afghanistan, saying that India's goals are "consistent" with U.S. aims. India has invested more than $1 billion in reconstruction aid for Afghanistan, to the dismay of its rival, Pakistan.
But Menon, who is fluent in Chinese and German, has done more than tie his country's fate to that of the United States -- he has encouraged Indians to embrace a newly active role in world affairs. After all, he explains, "Our needs from the world have changed, as has our capability."
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