It isn’t every year that the president of the most powerful country comes calling on India. In fact, till a decade ago, most presidents of the United States of America didn’t think India even deserved a stopover on their forays into Asia. Then, in 2000, Bill Clinton landed in New Delhi to charm the Indians and create a new mould for Indo-US relations, followed six years later by George W. Bush, who was rated as the best American president for India. In case you think the media should have become accustomed to the visit of American leaders, and are surprised at the buzz over Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to this land of Mahatma Gandhi (whom the American president considers an exemplary leader), then you have quite obviously missed the point: he is the first US president to visit this country in the first half of his first term in office. That by itself is a testimony to the importance of India in the global arena, its gradual rise as a power, its relevance to the superpower that’s said to be on a possible decline.
Chinese warship fires missile in South China Sea
A Look At The Presidential To-Do
Nov 6, Mumbai
Nov 7, Mumbai
Nov 7, Delhi
Nov 8, Delhi
Nov 9, Depart
But then China began flexing its muscle, exploiting the economic crisis to surpass Japan as the world’s second-largest economy and then staking unilateral claims over South China Sea and other islands in East and Southeast Asia. The other countries of the region, mostly close allies of the US, were not only alarmed but wondered whether the US was deliberately forsaking its role of a stabiliser in the Asia-Pacific and allowing China to carve its sphere of influence there.
Courting India: Obama with Indian-origin Americans at an event.
Agrees Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, “This is a serious issue. The overall climate for openness in the US is not great, especially for issues such as outsourcing. The fact that Indian companies contribute to the US economy helps but it does not fundamentally alter whether or not the US is inclined to take protectionist action.”
Eastern Manoeuvres: Obama with the Indian premier at the White House
Amidst fervent attempts to woo business in Mumbai, American sources say Obama will be provided a glimpse of India’s progress in e-governance and panchayati raj. He’s likely to be hooked live to a chaupal in session. Why isn’t the media abuzz with speculation about a big-ticket deal? Partly, officials say, this is deliberate, aimed at lowering expectations to avoid disappointment. But the more significant reason is that a big-ticket idea can’t be floated every time Indian and American leaders meet, that the nuclear deal was a game-changer and the gains have to be now consolidated, and that the thrust now is to have India and the US enter into global partnership.
Wives Inc Michelle Obama with Gursharan Kaur in Washington
Ultimately, as the US plans to create space for India to play a global role, New Delhi shouldn’t forget that it can’t expect others to hold its hand to glory. India will have to understand America’s compulsions in Afghanistan, and seize upon other opportunities to raise its profile as a great nation that’s devoid of hunger and believes in progress for all.
Barack Obama has to delicately balance his diplomacy between China, India and Pakistan (Namaste India, Nov 8). China’s growing ambition is reflected in its unilateral claims over South China Sea, islands in the East and India’s Arunachal Pradesh. However, the US is in sore need of China to broker deals with ‘rogue’ states like Iran and North Korea. Pakistan is in the reckoning if for nothing else then for fighting terror and for engineering America’s safe exit from Afghanistan. India is the only stable democracy in the region providing opportunities for trade and investment. So, India need not shy away from extracting concessions from Obama like lifting of controls on access to dual technology, a permanent seat in the unsc or sounding a warning to Islamabad to stop exporting terror to India.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Adyar
For some reason, the Democrats have a reserved approach towards India (it never goes beyond the regular rhetoric) compared to the Republicans. It has been so at least for the last five decades. Will Obama reverse it?
India should for once be smart and grab this chance of increasing trade and presence in the world. But there is a good chance that we’ll make a mess of it. The socialist guilt inside us can suddenly spring up and start sloganeering against mnc ‘exploiters’ and capitalism in general. Never mind that Communist China has no problem in getting trillion-dollar American investments and exporting 1,000-billion dollar worth of goods to the US. Or that Pakistanis may keep decrying all values American, but its government has no issues in grabbing all aid possible. It’s time India too started being selfish about its interests and stopped pretending we are the world’s conscience against the US.
There is no reason for us to bend over backwards to accommodate US interests just because their president is visiting us. India is the second-largest consumer of American goods and it’s time Indian leaders used this to bargain for our own interests.
S.P. Sharma, Mumbai
One can only hope that Barack Obama’s ‘Namaste India’ does not become a ‘Nemesis for India’ post his visit.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
This is USA Inc. and Mr President is equal to top 15 US companies in US.The whole purpose of meeting Asian countries is that the USA Inc. is no where left to go to keep the business running. Also what people staying in US want is to keep Business profitable so that Job cuts are avoided. Its the Top priority.That is the single most important reason of the visit.
No doubt this is the best time to get long term benefits from US to India. I think the India government also will have a plan in mind and act accordingly. Since US is no longer as powerful as it was in 90s , INDIA can force US now to bend some policies.
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