Obama’s visit acknowledges India’s global role: US scholar

November 4th, 2010 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 4 (IANS) US President Barack Obama’s visit to India offers an opportunity to set a new course for the direction of the US-India partnership, acknowledging India’s growing global role, says a US expert.

It should also recognise the changing Asian strategic landscape that makes strong US-Indian partnership imperative for stability and prosperity in the region, writes Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for South Asia at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank.

While Obama Administration’s South Asia policy has focused a tremendous amount of attention on Afghanistan and Pakistan, she believes “India, being the stable and prosperous country in the region, has posed much less of a headache for the White House and thus tended to receive less attention.

“The Obama Administration also squandered some goodwill with the Indians early in its tenure by raising the spectre of the appointment of a Kashmir envoy to placate Pakistan,” Curtis said.

Obama has since demonstrated a keener understanding of Indian sensitivities on the issue and is more realistic about the limits of any US role in the decades-old dispute, she said.

But major losses for his Democratic party in the US mid-term elections might tempt him to limit his message to one that focuses on India as a destination for US exports and highlights US-India business collaboration, Curtis fears.

“While these are indeed important issues, President Obama must also emphasise the broader significance of the US-India strategic partnership in strengthening democratic forces and balancing China’s rise in East Asia,” she said.

Obama has often adopted an overly simplistic approach toward US-India trade and economic ties, focusing on India as an economic competitor to the US, Curtis suggested.

“While clamping down on outsourcing, President Obama has missed the larger story on the benefits to the US economy from increased investment and trade ties between the two countries.”

“In addition to these economic synergies, President Obama must highlight defence and security ties, especially in light of uncertainties surrounding the rise of China and questions it has generated about the regional power balance in Asia,” Curtis said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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