BARACK OBAMA’S INDIA VISIT: TRANSITIONAL YES, DON’T EXPECT TRANSFORMATION SO SOON

No doubt it was a visit driven by positive sentiments that added further positives during its course, setting the mood of the future discourse.

Barack Oabam’s visit to India, with some historic firsts in India-US ties like Obama becoming the first US President to visit India twice while in office or the being first US President to be the chief guest of India’s Republic Day Parade, was successful on many vital counts.

It extended the streak of bonhomie that was successfully injected in worsening India-US ties during Narendra Modi’s September 2014 US visit.

It successfully built on the developments thereafter, Modi further meeting twice with Obama, in Myanmar and in Australia during multilateral meets, and backdoor negotiations on contentious issues like the civil nuclear deal.

It renewed the India-US ‘Defence Framework Agreement’ with co-production and co-development ventures.

It emphasized on the balancing act in Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean geopolitics with India’s growing role and growing collaboration with the US in checking the Chinese ambitions.

It saw Narendra Modi assuring Barack Obama and the US businessmen that India would remove the whims of red-tapes and Modi would personally look after the execution of proposals and projects.

It saw Barack Obama assuring India to look into Indian concerns on H-1B visa issue. H-1B visa is the route for opportunities for Indian techies in the US and Indian companies have been raising concerns ever since immigration reforms were initiated by Barack Obama.

It saw commitment of $4 billion by the US to start new initiatives.

It saw the personal chemistry between Narendra Modi and Barack Obama reaching to the next level where Obama promised to come back to India with his daughters and assuring that the ties would continue to prosper even if Obamas were not in the White House.

It saw two vital protocols broken to extend the commitments at personal level – first, Narendra Modi broke the protocol and received Barack Obama at the airport. Second, Barack Obama ignored the requirement of his security details that ‘he should not be in open air events for more than 45 minutes’ and stayed for the complete duration of the Republic Day Parade.

And above all, it was not without the signs of ‘checks and balances’ – on the lines of the visit being ‘transitional if not transformational’ as the US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes had said before the visit.

The long and checkered history of India-US ties indeed needs a gradual and transitional approach to cement the ties further – watching and fine-tuning the responses while on the move – testing the waters to see if the ‘ambitions to become the global partners’ come along with the assuring developments of ‘being all-weather friends’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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