Originally Published 2010-11-15 00:00:00 Published on Nov 15, 2010
India should be pleased that US President Barrack Obama acknowledged India as a global player, and an equal partner in dealing with crucial issues not only in Asia, but also in the world.
Three days of success
The three-day visit of President Obama to India was indeed an incredible success from every point of view. President Obama himself used the word “incredible” very often during his interactions on several occasions during his visit. While President Bush’s visit was historic since it resulted in the signing of the nuclear treaty between the United States and India. President Obama’s visit touched on a multitude of issues touching practically every aspect of Indo-US relations. During his several speeches, Obama held India’s democracy responsible for India’s success in so many fields.

An important contributing factor to Obama’s success was his sincere admiration and regard for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom he has openly acknowledged as his guru in economic affairs. Obama had spoken about Dr Singh’s sincerity, calling him a man of extraordinary intellect and great integrity. Their personal rapport laid down the foundation for the future of Indo-US relations, which are expected to evolve in different constructive directions.

After the interactions between American and Indian business leaders at Mumbai and later at Hyderabad House in Delhi, a lot of useful commercial transactions have taken place. Dr Singh has acknowledged that trade between the US and India would be subject to fewer restrictions from the Indian side, and India would welcome more imports from the US. India has welcomed American investment in infrastructure and the energy sector; a trillion dollars of investment is waiting for India.

At the government-to-government level, certain important deals were done including the decision to set up an Indo-US clean energy research and development centre, where joint research on emerging new energy technologies would be carried out. It was also agreed to have an establishment for tapping hydrocarbons from shale gas across India. Other important memoranda of understanding — on health, weather forecasting, agriculture — were also signed.

Contrary to the earlier announcement that the restrictions on dual-use technologies for certain Indian organisations would continue, Obama announced that organisations like ISRO, DRDO and Bharat Dynamics had been removed from the “restricted list” and discussions are on for a similar dispensation for the department of atomic energy. Another very important announcement was about collaboration on higher education, and on regular education summits to be held in both the countries.

The most important gains for India were in respect of Obama’s open acknowledgement of India taking its rightful position in a reformed United Nations Security Council in the foreseeable future. India has all along been bracketed with Japan, Germany and Brazil as the big four countries who should find a place in a reorganised UNSC. Obama’s open announcement backing India’s position was the first such acknowledgement from a major power, and that it should have come so forthrightly was a great victory for Indian diplomacy. Not surprisingly, Pakistan protested and asked President Obama to reconsider his decision.

It was surprising that Japan and Germany too demurred. Surely, President Obama could not be expected to address, while speaking to the Indian parliament, his attitude towards these countries in respect of their aspirations for UNSC seat.

Officials from both countries had, no doubt, discussed the increasing footprint of China in East Asia. While visualising India as a global partner in re-ordering or re-balancing the world, it is reasonable to presume that India would be pivotal in a group of countries — Vietnam, South Korea and Japan, for example — in a scheme to check Chinese assertion on various issues.

On Pakistan itself, Obama was quite categorical that it should take steps to close down terror camps. However, given that Pakistan is an ally of the US in Afghanistan, the US cannot push beyond a certain limit. Obama said that a stable and democratic Pakistan would be in the interest of India itself. Both Obama and Dr Singh were one on urging Pakistan to ensure that the perpetrators of 26/11 were brought to justice.

At the end of it all, India should be pleased that Obama acknowledged India as a global player, and an equal partner in dealing with crucial issues not only in Asia, but also in the world.

(The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation)

Courtesy: The Indian Express

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