Obama must stop neglecting India: Forbes

May 19th, 2009 - 11:55 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 19 (IANS) With India and America sharing both principles and interests, a leading US columnist wants President Barack Obama to stop “neglecting” India and visit India soon saying it would pay “very rich - and very reliable -dividends.”

“What is significant is that the convergence of India and America rests just as much on shared principles as it does on shared interests,” writes Tunku Varadarajan, a professor at New York University and executive editor for opinions at Forbes magazine.

“As Pakistan tears itself apart, America needs India more than ever. The moment, therefore, is Obama’s to seize,” he said citing an Asia Society report emphasising, “India matters to virtually every major foreign policy issue that will confront the United States in the years ahead.”

“As an Indian who has made his home in the US, I say to Barack Obama: Don’t neglect India. Go to India, and go there soon. Or if you can’t leave town, invite (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh to stop by,” Varadarajan said. “This is an investment of your time that will pay very rich - and very reliable - dividends.”

“Obama’s handling of the financial crisis, his stewardship of America’s foreign and security policy has been surprisingly deft. But the one part of America’s foreign policy that Obama can be argued to have flubbed so far is its relations with India,” he writes suggesting since taking office in January, Obama has paid India scant attention.

There are two ways to read Obama’s neglect of India. The first reading - one that gives him the benefit of the doubt that he’s not keen, by disposition, on India - is that he was maintaining a prudent distance from New Delhi as India went to the polls, he said.

The second, darker reading of Obama’s coolness toward India rests on a sense that the president is punishing the Indian political establishment for its closeness to former President George W. Bush.

“Yet if there is any pique at all in Obama’s approach to India, he needs to get over it fast,” Varadarajan said. “The alliance is too valuable to jeopardise. In Hillary Clinton, the president has a secretary of state with a real feel for India.”

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