Barrack Obama’s Indian odyssey was his longest ever on foreign soil ever since he assumed office as the President of the United States of America. And not without good reason...
Before embarking on the Indian voyage, Obama had vehemently upheld India’s thriving democracy, humanitarian and spiritual tradition and vast human resource potential among other things. But it’s clear and evident that it’s the huge economic potential of our nation that has brought the salesman racing ahead of the statesman in him, that too with well defined business targets in the areas of technology, innovation, trade, defence and security.
But let’s face it. What’s wrong if a government office embarks on a business development trip? Political will and governance have run hand-in-hand with commerce since time immemorial. Instead of condemning or even lamenting Obama’s business agenda, should we not try and leverage it to our advantage? Of course, we should. US, the world’s oldest democracy and India, the world’s largest democracy are collectively unarguably the world’s most potent force. It’s not plain rhetoric that Obama calls the Indo-US ties the defining relationship of the 21st century.
Towards that purpose, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was proactive and prudent in ignoring state protocols to welcome the President at the airport. And looking back, the talks have been far from disappointing. Let’s recapitulate the key agreements that the two nations have publicly declared:
Strengthen Export control framework
Develop transformative technologies to foster food security
Take the Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative (CCI)to the next level
Scale up civil space co-operation
Collaborate for environmental protection
Promote a robust cyber security framework
Implement the recommendations of the U.S.-India CEO Forum
Build partnerships in defence, trade, commerce and education
Deepen strategic ties in core foreign policy matters
Develop a shared vision to protect air, sea and space domains
That’s quite a bagful by all means.
Yes, Obama remained guarded on the contentious issue of outsourcing with an eye on the next elections. Yes, he chose to be tight-lipped on issues concerning Pakistan and China. Yes, he was awkward on the questions related to terrorism and Jihad (as awkward as his dance to keep pace with his wife and First Lady Michelle at a cultural function with school kids) Yes, he could have spoken more on the looming terror threats across the world, certainly more than what his emblematic stay at the Taj was meant to convey or what his articulated love for Mahatma Gandhi implied.
The list of “could have should have” is quite long.
And yet, Obama’s gestures conveyed a lot of optimism and his talks were noticeably reassuring. That spells great news for the liaison between the two countries in the coming years... a relationship that already moved paces ahead led by private partnerships between prominent players on either side, whether Reliance Power and GE deal to set up a Rs 10,000 crore & 2,400 MW power plant, the Spicejet decision to buy 41 Boeing aircrafts or even the $10bn worth trade deals to create 54,000 US jobs in due course.
Yes, India still yearns for better support in technology, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Defence besides a permanent membership of the UN Security Council but we did manage to get DRDO and ISRO off the dreaded US blacklist and the stringent checks on dual use of technology have now been eased. The US has also declared support for India's full membership in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and three other multilateral export control regimes.
Rather than bicker over the issues that the US is uncomfortable about, we should celebrate the success stories and indirectly work towards a better deal. How?
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