Obama should visit India soon: ForbesFebruary 17th, 2009 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Feb 17 (IANS) Leading US business magazine Forbes has urged President Barack Obama to maintain the “exhilarating degree of cooperation” that existed between India and US during the Bush administration and make an early trip to New Delhi to dispel Indian apprehensions about his administration.
In an article titled “Obama should visit India soon”, Tunku Varadarajan, a professor at New York University’s Stern Business School and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, also points to an early mis-step in the new administration’s dealings with India.
“What President Obama must be careful to do is deal with India on its own terms,” adds the executive editor for opinions at Forbes.
“He must not return to the old, pre-Bush binary in which India was twinned always with Pakistan and in which American diplomacy with India was always calibrated for the effect it might have on American relations with Pakistan,” Varadarajan says.
Noting that “India has outgrown Pakistan economically, militarily, strategically and civilisationally,” he said: “the US must treat it, on a par with Japan and Germany, as an always-consequential state whose interests can never be disregarded.”
Varadarajan said the Obama administration started off on the wrong foot with India by giving its special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan-Richard Holbrooke the additional task of seeking resolution on Kashmir, an affair on which India has never encouraged foreign intervention.
“In the end, hard-nosed Indian diplomacy led to a dropping of Kashmir from the Holbrooke ‘portfolio’, but the Obama administration’s intervene-in-Kashmir instinct sowed alarm in New Delhi,” he said.
“An elegant and effective way to dispel Indian apprehensions about an Obama administration would be for Obama himself to visit New Delhi very early in his presidency,” Varadarajan said.
Wondering if Obama’s schedule would permit such a trip some time within the first 100 days, he said: “I would urge him to give it some serious thought. My bet is that such a visit would cement America’s alliance with India for at least the next generation. What could be wrong with that?”
Varadarajan said he agreed 100 percent with fellow columnist Gordon G. Chang who last last week in his preview of Hillary Clinton’s first trip abroad as secretary of state, “chided her for what he regarded as a scheduling misjudgement,” saying “she should have reserved time for a stop-over” in India.
The columnist said he was not suggesting that Clinton has slighted India in choosing China for her travelling debut, but his point was “to alert the Obama administration to the need to keep the alliance with India from eroding”.