New Delhi: The United States needs to open new consulates in India, a country of 1.4 billion, to know the ground realities rather than get swayed by media reports.

Michael Rubin, the senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writing in The National Interest said that while American diplomats can read Indian newspapers or watch India's energetic television debates, it is impossible to remain adequately informed of developments in key regions without a consistent presence.

Consider that the State Department still issues a travel warning for Jammu and Kashmir "due to terrorism and civil unrest," even though the state has not witnessed significant terrorism or unrest since India normalized its internal status three years ago.

Today, it is thriving economically and socially and locals feel safe enough to be out at all hours of the day and night. The State Department should be embarrassed that its assessment of a region in which more than 13 million people live is out-of-date; it delegitimizes all travel warnings and raises questions about the competency of the entire process, said Rubin.

Outside of the US Embassy in New Delhi, there are only four State Department consulates in the country. The amount of money available is irrelevant if the State Department lacks wisdom about how to allocate it. Simply put, if US diplomacy is to be effective, it needs to adjust to twenty-first-century realities rather than nineteenth-century ones, reported The National Interest.

I have written before about the number of blind spots in US policy because the State Department refuses to establish consulates in key regions like Somaliland, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Syrian Kurdistan. Perhaps none, however, have consequences on the scale that the neglect of India does, said Rubin.

Beyond its regional diversity and political complexity, it is also an economic powerhouse. It has the fifth largest economy in the world with a trajectory to move up several places if the government can resist populism and have the discipline to continue privatization and reform.

Moreover, it also needs a consulate in the Punjabi capital of Chandigarh or its largest city Ludhiana given the number of Punjabis in the United States who travel between the two countries, reported The National Interest.

The United States computer and tech industry rests disproportionately on the labour and intellectual contributions of America's vast Indian-American community. If Silicon Valley is the center of America's computer industry, then Bengaluru is its equivalent in India. The interaction between the two is significant, said Rubin.

While India maintains a consulate in San Francisco, the United States has no equivalent in Bengaluru; the closest American post is more than 200 miles away in Chennai.

The US maintains no consulate dedicated to Uttar Pradesh, home to almost 200 million people, a larger population than all but the top seven countries by size.

It is not all about size, though. Himachal Pradesh, a state wedged between Punjab, Jammu, and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh, may have a population of less than seven million, but its geopolitical role amplifies its importance.

Its winter capital, Dharamshala, doubles as the home of the Dalai Lama, who fled China following the communist conquest of Tibet and his Central Tibetan Administration. A consulate there would be better situated than any diplomatic post in China to handle Tibetan affairs, without crossing the line into overt support of separatism in China, said Rubin.