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India Namaste India

Jan 7, 2005
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Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
obama visit
Namaste India

Barack Obama’s nod to India will get us due recognition—if not momentous deals

Pranay Sharma - OUTLOOKINDIA



What India Wants:

- Heed India’s strategic concerns in the region and beyond
- Unequivocal support from the US on India's candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group
- Removal of DRDO and ISRO from the Entities List
- Access to dual-use technologies from the US
- Bigger role for India in Afghanistan, particularly in the future regime in Kabul
- Work with US on poverty alleviation in Africa
- Greater access to US markets for Indian goods, services
 
What Obama Wants:

- India to play a balancing role so that no one country dominates Asia. A rising China is a worry.
- India's crucial support to restore peace, stability in Afghanistan
- Opportunity in India’s lucrative defence market as New Delhi revamps its armed forces
- Access to the Indian market not only for big companies but small and medium enterprises as well
- Support on climate change. Also help US in selling its sophisticated green technology.
- Enable US firms to sell new seed technology in India
- Grab a big share of the Indian civil nuclear market

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.

This also explains why Obama’s visit has been pitched as a defining moment in Indo-US relations. Forget those trite catchwords—Pakistan, Kashmir et al. Do not search for an idea comparable to the civil nuclear deal, crafted under the Bush administration, before you declare Obama’s visit to India a success or otherwise. It’s time to think big, sources say, and it can’t get bigger than what Obama plans to unfold during his November 6-9 visit: project India as a power with a sinew impressive enough to partner the US not only in Asia but in the entire world, including an emerging Africa partnership.

Two major developments have prompted Obama to try and script a grand leap for India. One, the economic crisis which has cast most western economies into a tailspin. Two, the anxiety among many Asian countries engendered by the rise of an aggressive China. Agrees a senior official in the prime minister’s office, "China’s rise is the biggest thing that is happening around us." And when such a big change is under way, the Americans have to wake up and take stock.

Obama did this exactly a year ago, embarking on his first trip to Asia that saw him hop from one country to another: Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. In his Asia Security speech in Tokyo, Obama did not even mention India, not even in passing. This omission, even as he named other Asian powers, was not missed in New Delhi nor among its friends in Washington. Wasn’t it terrible diplomacy to ignore India, asked American officials there. As a remedy, he chose Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the first state guest of his presidency in November last year. And though Obama, sources say, showed great appreciation of Manmohan’s views in their many subsequent meetings on the sidelines of multilateral events, there were many who remained sceptical whether the Indo-US strategic relationship would be elevated to a higher level under his presidency, as had been promised. Former foreign secretary K. Natwar Singh remains doubtful even today. "Borrowing the titles of two famous Charles Dickens novels, I can only describe his visit as ‘Great Expectations’ which will end up in ‘Hard Times’."

source: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?267720
 

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