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Interview With Maziar Bahari; Interview With Manmohan Singh

Aired November 22, 2009 - 13:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria, coming to you this week from London.

We begin the show with an exclusive interview with Maziar Bahari, the NEWSWEEK reporter who spent four months in an Iranian prison. He as written about it in this week's NEWSWEEK. He has a harrowing, moving tale to tell.

And then, the main event. I am just back from New Delhi, where I spoke with the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, in his only television interview on his trip to Washington, D.C.

Let's get started.


ZAKARIA: "Everyone has forgotten you." Those were words Maziar Bahari heard every day from interrogators during the four months he spent in solitary confinement in an Iranian prison.

Maziar is my colleague -- a fine journalist who works for NEWSWEEK. He is also an award-winning filmmaker. He was arrested, along with hundreds of others, during the protests that followed Iran's disputed election.

The end of his ordeal came in October, when he was released on bail of three billion rials, equal to 300,000 American dollars.

He flew back to his home in London, just days before his wife, Paola, gave birth to their first child, a girl.

I'm delighted to welcome Maziar Bahari as my guest today.

Thank you for being here.


ZAKARIA: So, take us back to the 21st of June in Iran.

BAHARI: Well, I was asleep. It was, I think, around 7:30, 7:45 in the morning. I was staying with my mother at that time. I was between apartments.

And my mother came in, came into the room. I was sleeping. And she said, "Dear, there are four people here. They say they are from the prosecutor's office," -- she already had doubts of them -- "and they want to take you away."

ZAKARIA: So, they take you away right away.

BAHARI: They took me away right away. There were five cars waiting outside. And then, we headed north from my mother's house.

I asked them whether they were going to take me to Evin Prison. And they said, "Maybe we do, maybe we do not."

So, everything was uncertain from the beginning. But when we headed north, I realized that they were going to take me to Evin.

ZAKARIA: Now, Evin is the military prison. It's a place where there's been a lot of torture. There have been Western journalists who have died...

BAHARI: Many people.

ZAKARIA: ... under torture.

BAHARI: Many people.

ZAKARIA: So, you're scared at this point, when you realize...

BAHARI: I was very scared. I mean, when I went to Evin, and I realized it was Evin, I remembered all the interviews I had done in the past with different people who were tortured in that prison. You know, I remembered all those interrogation stories, long hours of interrogation, solitary confinement -- everything.

It was -- I didn't know what to do.

ZAKARIA: And when you get there, they still don't charge you.

BAHARI: In the beginning, I was charged with masterminding the Western media in Iran. That was -- that went on for about 10 days.

After that...

ZAKARIA: In fact, they said -- I see in your article in NEWSWEEK -- they said, they accused you of working for the CIA, Mossad and NEWSWEEK, as if they were all intelligence agencies.

BAHARI: And not only that, they mentioned your name, as well. They said that your editors, Fareed Zakaria and Christopher Dickey, they are part of the American intelligence apparatus. And I told them, "Well, Fareed never told me that."

ZAKARIA: I assume they had no sense of humor about this. You had to be very serious.

BAHARI: I had to be very respectful. I had to be very deferential. And I had to be very serious.

ZAKARIA: But you were interrogated for hours and hours and hours. And at some level, you had nothing to say, because you were just doing your job as a journalist. So, what would you say to them?

BAHARI: I was just saying that I'm just a hack doing my job. I'm not a spy.

My interrogator told me that I was going to be executed, every day. I mean, every time for about three months, he told me that, "One day at four o'clock in the morning, after the morning prayers, you wake up and you see the noose in front of you. And I make sure that I will be the person who will kick the chair off your feet, and then you will be hanging. And that's the end of you."

So, I was living with the threat of execution for almost three months.

ZAKARIA: And why do you think he was doing that? To scare you?

BAHARI: To put pressure on me.

ZAKARIA: And to force you to say something.

BAHARI: Exactly. He was trying to scare me. And he was trying to put me under a lot of psychological pressure in order for me to submit to what they wanted me to be.

I mean, I had physical torture, as well. But the psychological torture was much more effective.

ZAKARIA: What was the nature of the physical torture?

BAHARI: Kicking, punching, slapping, hitting with the belt. Humiliation is the main thing that they do to you in Evin Prison, because they just want to humiliate you so much, that you just submit to whatever charges they are throwing at you.

What they wanted me to really do was to name different individuals and fabricate facts about them in order to make cases for them. And especially they were reformists, they were other journalists. And because they didn't have anything on them, they just wanted me to make up things in order to put them on trial or persecute them. I don't know what.

But that was the first thing I told myself, that I was not going to name individuals.

First of all, I didn't know any secrets of any individuals of importance. And then, I thought that, if I was going to fabricate facts about them, I could not live with myself. I mean, I'd rather die, you know.

ZAKARIA: What was it like to be in solitary confinement?

BAHARI: It might be the most difficult part of prison to be in solitary confinement. You know, in the Koran, Allah says that one of the punishments for sinners is to contract their grace, to make their grace smaller. When you're in solitary confinement, you just see the walls approaching each other, and they are becoming smaller. And it's as if you are in a grave. It was just -- and you start to hallucinate after a while.

ZAKARIA: When you were in prison and you think that you might get executed, and this guard is constantly -- this interrogator is constantly saying that to you -- what are the thoughts that go through your mind? Take us through -- I mean, it's such a rare experience to be that close to death. What is going on in your head?

BAHARI: Actually, after a few weeks, when he threatened with execution, I thought that's, you know -- so what? I can be executed, and that's the end of it. And sometimes I thought, you know, it's better than being in solitary confinement for I don't know how long.

But some people, they had to spend there, you know, three, four years in solitary confinement in Islamic Republic. And I contemplated committing suicide twice.

I had my glasses, the same glasses, in jail. And a couple of times I just looked at these glasses, and I thought, "Well, I can always break the lens, and I just can cut my wrist." And I was just thinking that, how long it's going to take to bleed to death, how long it's going to take to bleed to death.

And I started to think about it. And then I just thought that, no, I'm not going to do that.

Why should I do their job for them? If they want to kill me, they can do it themselves. I'm not going to be their executioner for myself.

And I had so much to lose. I have my family, of course. I have my wife. I have my child. And I have my mother, my family and friends.

And it's just -- but they are masters of psychological torture. They know exactly what to do.

ZAKARIA: So, Maziar, at the last phase of your imprisonment, about 20 days before you were released, something begins to seem to change, you said. Why do you think it changed?

BAHARI: It was mainly because of the international campaign for me, and because of the international pressure, but also because of the internal pressure.

As you know, most of my colleagues, including yourself and many others, they campaigned for me. And, I mean, it was a non-stop campaigning. I didn't know anything about it.

I didn't know anything about it until, actually, one day in September my guards, the prison guards -- who were very nice people, actually, they were not part of the Revolutionary Guards, they were very professional -- they started to call me Mr. Hillary Clinton. And when I asked them, "Why do you call me Hillary Clinton," they said, "Because Hillary Clinton talked about you last night, and they showed it on Iranian television."

ZAKARIA: Which was actually on this program.

BAHARI: Exactly.


ZAKARIA: I have to ask you a question that is of personal interest. A NEWSWEEK reporter, Maziar Bahari...


ZAKARIA: ... has been arrested and is now going through what can only be called a kind of Stalinist show trial.

What is your reaction to that?

CLINTON: Well, I am just appalled at the treatment that Mr. Bahari and others are receiving. And it is a sign of weakness. It demonstrates, I think, better than any of us could ever say, that this Iranian leadership is afraid of their own people, and afraid of the truth and the facts coming out.


BAHARI: So, at that moment, I knew that, you know, there is some sort of campaigning -- massive campaigning, actually -- was going on, because otherwise, the secretary of state of the United States would not talk about me.

So, it was maybe the best day in my imprisonment days.

ZAKARIA: One thing I wanted to get to, which I forgot. So, when you're in the prison, they start asking you about an episode on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.


ZAKARIA: Talk about that.

BAHARI: That was really absurd. As you know, I was on "The Daily Show" maybe a week before my arrest. And in that sketch, Jason Jones, the correspondent for "The Daily Show," he pretends to be a spy. He pretends to be this redneck American who doesn't know anything about the Middle East. He had this Palestinian keffiyeh scarf with sunglasses.

And one day my interrogator told me that "We have really damning video against you." And I was just wondering what it is. They showed me this video. And I was just -- I was going to ask them, what have you been smoking? It's just -- it's unbelievable.

And I asked them, "I hope you don't believe that he is a real spy."

And then they said, "We're sure that there is something suspicious about him, because why is he pretending to be a spy? And why did he choose you to be on his program?"

ZAKARIA: Maziar Bahari, it's a great pleasure to have you back...

BAHARI: Thank you very much.

ZAKARIA: ... and to have you on the show.

BAHARI: Thanks very much.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back next week with more from Maziar Bahari, how he got out of prison and what he thinks of Iran and the future of the Iranian opposition.



ZAKARIA: Do you feel that Pakistan has done enough to bring to justice, and to give you intelligence about the terrorists who planned the Mumbai attacks?

MANMOHAN SINGH: No, they have not done enough.



ZAKARIA: I am just back from New Delhi, where I spoke with the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, in his only television interview on his trip to Washington, D.C.

As always, first, some thoughts of my own.

Manmohan Singh is a fascinating figure in his own right, a man born in rural poverty who rose to become finance minister, head of the central bank -- and now, prime minister of his country.

He is an unlikely head of a raucous, populist democracy. And he's a quiet, Cambridge-trained economist who loves to read.

By all accounts, he and President Obama have forged a good personal relationship. But the visit of India's prime minister to Washington is about more than personalities. It is the first official state visit of the Obama presidency.

It should be an occasion to celebrate and solidify the alliance between the world's largest democracy and the world's oldest democracy. But, in fact, so far, the Obama presidency has been marked by a series of small fumbles and miscues in its relations with New Delhi. In America, we think a lot about South Asia, and we now call it AfPak. But the giant of South Asia is actually the third country, India.

Fixated on stabilizing Afghanistan, Washington seems to be relying more and more heavily on Pakistan to tackle the Taliban problem. In doing so, more disturbingly, Washington seems to be adopting the world view of the Pakistani army -- an army that created the Taliban and, despite $10 billion of aid from the United States, has taken no serious steps to dismantle it.

Pakistan's longstanding position has been that it has a right to see a pro-Pakistani government in Afghanistan. The respected Asia expert, Selig Harrison, noted that, in an interview with him in 1988, Pakistan's president, Zia ul-Haq, demanded "a regime to our liking" in Kabul.

Last year, a Pakistani general told the director of the CIA, quote, that Pakistan had to support the Taliban in Afghanistan. "Otherwise, India will reign."

And now, General Stan McChrystal has echoed the Pakistani line by warning of, quote, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan. All in all, this produces a foreign policy in which the urgent is driving out the important.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are in trouble. But dysfunctional, small states don't create opportunities for political stability and world order.

A strong relationship with India has that potential. If the Obama administration does not build on it, it will have missed a great opportunity.


ZAKARIA: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for joining us.

MANMOHAN SINGH, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA: Well, I'm very happy to be here, recording this interview with you, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: When you look at Afghanistan, do you believe that the American presence there has contributed to stability and is contributing to stabilizing the situation?

SINGH: Well, all I can say is, the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan created a major problem for the world, and that the disappearance of the Taliban regime is, indeed, a blessing for the global society, global polity.

ZAKARIA: The problem in Afghanistan is largely a problem of disaffected Pashtuns. They make up 50 percent of Afghanistan, but 100 percent of the Taliban.

Do you believe that there should be some kind of political outreach to the Taliban, or to members of the Pashtun community who may have allied themselves with the Taliban? Is there a political deal to be struck here?

SINGH: Well, I think President Karzai, having been re-elected, it is his responsibility and his obligation to harmonize and to bring together all elements who can contribute to the construction and development of Afghanistan.

And I hope that he will rise to the occasion.

ZAKARIA: Has he done so, so far?

SINGH: Well, I think there have been limited efforts before. And I sincerely -- yesterday, in his inaugural address, he appealed to Dr. Abdullah and other elements to work with him.

So, I hope that all elements of Afghan societies which are opposed to the terrorist elements can get together to give a purposeful government to the people of Afghanistan.

ZAKARIA: The United States is trying to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, is trying to help President Karzai establish a stable government there.

What is Pakistan's objective in Afghanistan, in your view?

SINGH: Well, I sometimes fear that Pakistan's objectives are not necessarily in harmony with the U.S. objectives. Pakistan sometimes feels that the Americans are short-term maximizers, that if the pressure continued, they will not have the courage to stay put (ph), they will walk away, and that Afghanistan will become a natural backyard (ph) for Pakistan to influence its policies and programs.

ZAKARIA: So, you think they want an Afghanistan that is amendable or a Pakistani puppet?

SINGH: Yes, I think that is -- that appears to me.

ZAKARIA: Is it your sense that the Pakistani government and the Pakistani army are taking active measures to destroy the Afghan Taliban, as distinct from the Pakistani Taliban?

SINGH: Well, who am I to judge? I think what Secretary Clinton, when she was in Pakistan recently, I think she did ask, I think, publicly, that Quetta Shura, the leaders of Afghan Taliban -- where are they? That can not be unknown to the people in Pakistan.

So, that is an indication of things that are happening on the ground.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that the Pakistani army will ever take on the Afghan Taliban, those terrorist elements that attack not Pakistanis, but Afghans, Indians, perhaps Westerners?

SINGH: I'm not certain that the Pakistan army will take on those elements.

ZAKARIA: Who do you think is running Pakistan right now? SINGH: Well, I think the most important force in Pakistan is the army.

And there is democracy. We would like democracy to succeed and flourish in Pakistan. But we have to recognize that the power today rests virtually with the army.

ZAKARIA: Do you feel that you have a partner in Pakistan right now with whom you can negotiate?

SINGH: Well, I don't know whether we have a partner right now. I think when General Musharraf was there, I used to ask him. And he said, "Well, I am the army. I represent the armed forces. I represent the people."

Now I don't know who to deal with.

ZAKARIA: When you look at the situation in Pakistan, do you worry about the collapse of the state and the nuclear weapons moving into the hands of either some radical element within the army or terrorists?

SINGH: Well, we worry about all these contingencies. But we have been assured by the Americans that they are satisfied that's not going to happen.

ZAKARIA: Do you feel that Pakistan has done enough to bring to justice, and to give you intelligence about, the terrorists who planned the Mumbai attacks?

SINGH: No, they have not done enough. They have taken some steps.

I have discussed this matter with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Minister (ph) Vilani, with the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at Sharm el-Sheikh. We signed a statement that we should, he said that we should -- he assured us that he will do -- Pakistan will do all that is possible to bring to justice the perpetrators of Mumbai massacre.

But it's our feeling that Pakistan has not done enough. Hafeez Sayeed is roaming around free. Walana Assed Massoud (ph) and other terrorist elements, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which is actively involved -- according to Pakistan's own admissions -- is actively involved in perpetrating this massacre in Mumbai.

They are moving around freely, because it's very easy to place in Pakistan. So, a friendly Pakistan, a government in Pakistan which would be equally determined to tackle terrorism would, I think, take the case to its logical conclusions.

But that has not happened.

ZAKARIA: Do you see any prospects for productive negotiations on Kashmir with Pakistan? Because you were quite close to some kind of a deal with President Musharraf before he had to leave office. SINGH: Well, I have publicly stated that there can be no redrawing of borders. But our two countries can work together to ensure that these are borders of peace, that people-to-people contacts grow in this manner in which people do not, I think, worry whether they are located on this side of the border or that side.

If trade is free -- trade, people-to-people contacts and our both countries competing with each other to give a life of -- to enable the people on both sides to lead a life of dignity and self-respect -- those are issues which we can discuss. We can reach agreement.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back with more from the Indian prime minister, right after this.



SINGH: The United States has recovered from difficult economic situation. It has shown remarkable capacity to bounce back, the entrepreneurial spirit, which is a hallmark of the American enterprise system.




ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the trip you are about to embark on. You have famously had a very good relationship with President George W. Bush.

Do you have any apprehension that the Obama administration will not be as favorably disposed towards India as the Bush administration was?

SINGH: I have no apprehension that our relations with the United States would in any way suffer because of the change of administration.

ZAKARIA: When one travels around India these days and reads the newspapers, talks to people, you get a sense of a great deal of connection and interaction with the United States at every level -- at the level of business, at the level of universities.

Is the relationship between Indian society and American society actually now stronger than that between the Indian government and the American government?

SINGH: Well, our relations at the people-to-people level are of great significance. The fact that there is a large community in the United States, people of Indian origin, the way they have flourished, the way they have contributed to the growth of the American economy, I think has changed the image of India. And I often say to our guests from abroad that these days, there is hardly a middle class family in India who doesn't have a son, a son-in-law, a brother or a sister, or a sister-in-law in the United States. I think that's a great incentive for our two countries to look to further development of our relationships.

ZAKARIA: You are going to go to Washington with some specific objectives. One of them will be to get the United States to ease up on some of the restrictions in terms of transferring nuclear technology to India. That is, in a sense, the operationalization of the nuclear deal that you signed with President Bush.

Do you worry that there might be undue restrictions placed on these transfers, and that the Obama administration may be too concerned about issues of nuclear proliferation and will not transfer technology to you?

SINGH: We are a nuclear weapons state, but we are responsible nuclear power. We have an impeccable record of not having contributed to unauthorized proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction.

So, I think India does require, I think, greater consideration of the global community.

India needs to industrialize. India needs to operate on the frontiers of modern science and technology. And therefore, restrictions on dual-use technologies affect our growth.

We need an annual growth rate of 8 to 9 percent to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease, which still afflict millions and millions of people in our country. And in that context, industrialization and transfer of dual-use technologies can play a very important role.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you to put on your hat as an economist. You're a very distinguished economist.

What is your reaction to this extraordinary global financial crisis that seemed to come out of the blue, seemed to have a much greater impact than anyone was able to foresee initially? What made the system melt down one year ago?

SINGH: Well, lax regulation. And monetary policies which were far too liberal, they had overstayed (ph). They should have been tightened much earlier. But they were not tightened. And therefore, this, coupled with laxity of regulation, contributed to these bubbles, which had to burst.

ZAKARIA: Isn't it ironic that India and China, and a couple of other of the emerging market countries, during the boom were actually much more vigilant with regard to their monetary policy -- raising interest rates, restricting credit -- whereas, in the West, there was a somewhat lax attitude, as you say.

One usually thinks of the advanced industrial world as having better economic policy than emerging markets or Third World countries. But it seems as though the roles have reversed.

SINGH: Well, I don't wish to comment on individual countries' policies. But certainly, we were more prudent. Events have shown that this prudence has paid us rich dividends.

Our banking system has not been exposed to the distressed assets of the type the banking system in other countries have been exposed. And therefore, our natural prudence plus, I think, the good supervision of our banking system by the regulatory authorities, have contributed to this favorable outcome.

ZAKARIA: Do you think this crisis casts a doubt, or casts a poor light, on the American model? And does this in some way affect America's power, its soft power, if you will?

I mean, America was seen as the leading example of capitalism around the world, the advanced model. And is that now cast in doubt?

SINGH: Well, there is a temporary setback. There's a temporary questioning about the relevance of the American model. But I have seen these things much before.

I think, way back in the late '60s, a very famous economist at Yale, Professor Robert Triffin, wrote that very famous book, "Gold and the Dollar Crisis," and saying the days of the dollar as the reserve currency of the world are over, that the United States should take a lead to move to a more neutral (UNINTELLIGIBLE) asset.

But things changed. And the United States recovered from difficult economic situation. It has shown remarkable capacity to bounce back -- the entrepreneurial spirit, which is a hallmark of the American enterprise system. I have no doubt that these things are not permanent, irreversible shifts, but that the American economy has the capacity to bounce back to its normal growth point (ph).

ZAKARIA: So, the Russian government and the Chinese government in various ways have been suggesting or hinting that they might prefer a world without the dollar as the reserve currency. You do not share that view.

SINGH: No, no. The power to create money is an index of power, of patience (ph). And as far as I can see right now, there is no substitute for the dollar.

And even the Chinese are hesitant. After all, the fact that they hold $2.5 trillion of reserve assets, they have not disposed of even a fraction of them -- that is a measure of the confidence that the world has in the dollar.

There are problems. There is the confidence problem, which can be very destabilizing.

But my own feeling is that we have not entered an era of irreversible shift in economic strength of the United States.

ZAKARIA: What do you think about the prospect of the rise of China within Asia? This is an economy already three times the size of India's economy, and is still growing faster than India's economy.

SINGH: Well, I think the rise of China has contributed handsomely to sustaining the growth momentum in the world economy. And as far as India is concerned, I have said it many times that India and China are not in competition. We believe that there is enough economic space for both our countries to realize the growth ambitions of our respective countries. And that's the attitude which guides us in dealing with China.

ZAKARIA: But you know, outside visitors go to China, and they go to India. And they are struck by the energy with which the Chinese are both building infrastructure, the ease with which you can set up businesses. And they wish that they could see a similar process in India.

SINGH: Well, I have no hesitation in saying that I think development in India cannot be a carbon copy of what happens in China. And the Chinese system is very different.

We are a functioning democracy. And even if you want to acquire land, I think you run into serious problems, and there's for -- of operating a democracy. And democracy is slow-moving. I always believed that it may be slow-moving in the short term, but in the long run, an arrangement which has the backing of the people at large will prove to be more durable.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back with more from the Indian prime minister, right after this.



ZAKARIA: We'll be back to our interview with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in just a moment. But first, our "What in the World?" segment.

What caught my attention was SixthSense. No, it's not ESP, nor is it the M. Knight Shyamalan horror movie.

This SixthSense is a high-tech device -- maybe the highest tech device ever -- that lets you go seamlessly between the digital world and the physical world. For example, making a framing sign with your fingers, and the computer takes a picture. Take a look at the weather forecast printed hours ago on the back of a newspaper, and now you have the up-to-date weather forecast superimposed on it.

Take out a piece of paper and play a video game on it. Dial your cell phone -- on your hand.

These are the ideas of this man, Pranav Mistry, one of the stars of the recent TED India.

"Who's Ted?" you might ask.

TED is an extremely influential set of conferences held every year in the U.S. and the U.K., to talk about the future of creativity, high technology and about innovation. It's very cutting edge.

And for the first time in the organization's 25-year history, it has just held a major conference in India. It's a sign that India is becoming one of the great innovation capitals of the world, with ideas moving seamlessly from West to East.

Pranav, for example, is doing his work at MIT. And he's far from alone. A report out this week says India has more students in the U.S. than any other nation. More than 100,000 went this year alone.

The vast majority of them will go back and innovate in India.

You're also seeing the rise of homegrown innovation in India, much of it targeted towards the poor. You might think that's a bad business model. Why innovate for people who can't pay for it? But when there are hundreds of millions of people, it starts to make great sense.

The world's poor, it was said at the TED conference, are worth up to $13 trillion a year in revenue.

One concern trying to capitalize on that, Anil Gupta's Honey Bee Network, which supports literal grassroots innovation by India's farmers and other rural citizens. Gupta was another of the featured speakers at the TED conference, and his organization has helped to bring to market a refrigerator made of clay, which uses no electricity, but keeps things cool and fresh for days.

And there's another interesting appliance, this one invented by a 14-year-old girl, whose chores were taking her away from her studies. So, she invented a pedal-powered washing machine.

The 21st century will belong to those who can command the high ground of ideas and innovation at all levels. The TED conference highlighted India's richness in that currency.

The nation's teaming masses of human capital, its ease in the English language, its existing connections into the global economy. All of these things make it well placed, despite its Third World status, to be truly a leader of innovation in this century.

And we will be right back.



ZAKARIA: We are back now with the prime minister of India.

Mr. Prime Minister, you grew up a poor boy on a farm in Punjab. You were a scholarship student. You went to Cambridge. Here you are, prime minister of the largest democracy in the world.

Did you ever think, growing up as a child, you would end up in this position?

SINGH: Well, I'm sorry, I never thought that I would reach that far.

I am what I am, because of the education that I received. But it's due to democracy that a person with such a background as mine can, I think, become the prime minister of this great republic of ours.

ZAKARIA: Do you think India's rise in that sense has a lesson to teach the world?

SINGH: I think, India, if it succeeds in remaining a functioning democracy, and simultaneously tackling problems of poverty, disease, illiteracy, that, if we do succeed, I think that is going to be an international public good. It would have lessons for the evolution of the countries of the hitherto Third World in the 21st century.

And so, the fact that there are very few countries of India's size, which have remained functioning democracy throughout the 60 years of our independence, I think the world has to recognize that, if we do succeed, it will have some bearing on the evolution of the countries of the Third World in the 21st century.

ZAKARIA: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining us.

SINGH: Thank you very much, Fareed. It's just a great pleasure talking to you.



ZAKARIA: Now for our "Question of the Week."

Last week, President Obama was just arriving in China to meet with its leaders. So, I asked you, do you think China had the upper hand in the U.S.-China relationship. Is China now the world's great superpower?

The vast majority of you said no, pointing to what you see as China's weaknesses -- internal repression, its poor human rights record.

Viewer Larry Jennings of New York City summed it up this way. "You cannot call a nation a superpower when it has such little concern for its own people."

This week, here's what I'd like to know. I talked a few minutes ago about Indian innovation and the evidence that American innovation may be waning.

Do you think the U.S. is still the world's most innovative country?

Let me know what you think, and why.

And as always, I'd like recommend a book. This one is called "Too Big to Fail," by Andrew Ross Sorkin, a financial reporter for the "New York Times." It is a real page-turner, the global financial meltdown told as a detective story. The same bankers and government officials you see testifying in dry hearings on Capitol Hill are in this, larger-than-life characters living through a drama with the highest stakes.

And in fact, that's what it was for these people. They were desperately trying to prevent the collapse of the world financial system. "Too Big to Fail" is not just dramatic, but also quite comprehensible, clearly explaining much of what brought us here -- very good reading.

Now, please remember to check out our Web site at We've got new content, new viewers every week.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.