Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young discusses India, Afghanistan and other issues.

The United States should seek help from India in resolving the war in Afghanistan, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young told GlobalAtlanta.

Mr. Young cited India’s response to the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai as an example of the country’s steady temperament and ability to resolve conflict. Ten terrorists based in Pakistan arrived in Mumbai by boat and attacked targets across the city, killing 170 people.

Although the Indian government was criticized by citizens for responding too slowly while the attacks were in progress, Mr. Young believes India handled the aftermath correctly.

”India didn’t have a knee-jerk, hostile reaction,” said Mr. Young, who was one of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s key lieutenants in the civil rights movement and later a U.S. congressman, U.N. ambassador and mayor of Atlanta. “They could have easily felt they had to get even with Pakistan. Instead, they worked with Pakistan. They have caught most of the terrorists. Instead of the terrorists alienating them from their neighbors, they used it wisely to build a bridge.”

Mr. Young, who is scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award Friday, Dec. 4 from the World Chamber of Commerce for promoting international trade in Atlanta, has links to India stretching back to his civil rights work in the 1960s. GlobalAtlanta interviewed him on the same day India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, met with President Obama at the White House. On Dec. 1, less than a week after Mr. Singh’s visit, Mr. Obama announced that he is sending 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Pakistan, with a majority Muslim population, separates India and Afghanistan. Relations between India, a majority Hindu nation, and Pakistan have long been tense. Yet Mr. Young believes India can play a major role in bringing peace to the region.

“I frankly think if we don’t listen to India and work with India, we’re never going to be able to solve the problems of Afghanistan,” said Mr. Young. “India is going to have to take a major role in whatever happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Mr. Young described how India shaped his Christian faith.

“I’m a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi,” said Mr. Young. “I say I didn’t understand Jesus Christ until I read Gandhi. I couldn’t see the relevance of Christianity in the South until I saw Gandhi transform the Christian ethic into a political action philosophy.”

Shortly after Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, Mr. Young traveled to India with Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to accept the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, which Dr. King was awarded posthumously. They had dinner with then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who was herself assassinated in 1984.

“We went to her modest little home, there were no servants,” said Mr. Young. “She and Coretta went to the kitchen and fixed dinner together. It’s a wonderful country. They’re wonderful people. We have not done enough to appreciate that.”

India has been eclipsed by China’s rapid growth in recent years, but the U.S. should not underestimate India’s economic power, Mr. Young said.

“More Indians speak English and more Indians are comfortable with democracy,” he said.

Although Mr. Young is still actively involved in international trade through GoodWorks International LLC, a consulting firm focused on Africa, he still views his primary occupation to be that of a Christian minister. And he believes the two roles complement each other.

“I really believe Christianity produced capitalism,” he said. “I’m part of the Puritan tradition. My ancestors were educated by the Congregational Church which came here from Europe with a philosophy that you should work hard and create goods and services and invest your money in helping others.”

From the United States, Christian churches sent missionaries worldwide. “Overall, the  Christian movement has been spreading a gospel of freedom,” Mr. Young said. “A gospel of freedom produces enlightenment and enlightenment produces at its best, sharing.” 

Capitalism has brought hundreds of millions of people in China, India and other countries out of poverty, Mr. Young said.

“Jesus is not going to ask me anything when I come into the kingdom other than ‘Did you feed the hungry, cloth the naked, heal the sick?’ You can’t do that just by handing out missionary baskets. Ultimately, the ideal is to include everybody as an independent, self-sufficient, educated producer of whatever it is God has put in their hearts.”

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