NEW DELHI – When the Commonwealth heads of government meet in Australia later this month, one prominent leader is almost certain to be conspicuously absent: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. India is a strong backer of the association of former British colonies (and some new entrants without that shared heritage, notably Mozambique and Rwanda), so no displeasure with the Commonwealth is implied. Instead, rumors in New Delhi suggest that the decision to send a delegation led by India’s ceremonial vice-president, albeit an able former diplomat, might be a not-so-subtle rebuke to the summit’s host, Australia.
On the face of it, it is hard to imagine two countries with less cause for conflict. United by the English language, similar democratic political institutions, and a shared passion for cricket, and divided by no significant issues of contention, India and Australia seem obvious candidates for the sort of benign relationship of which most diplomats dream.