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Obama’s Tour to India: Merely a Business-cum-Leisure Trip! Politics goes Missing…

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WTF!  A popular Hindi news channel [read: Star News] continuously relayed a message which read as, “Duniya ka Dabangg aa Gaya,” referring to the US President Barack Obama’s arrival in India, as a part of his four-country Asian tour.

What’s the need to create humour out of such a highly politicized event? In fact, does this Duniya ka dabangg’s tour to India have any big-ticket mutually beneficial pact in works? Not really!

Obama-Trip

Moreover, Obama’s Democratic Party’s defeat in the US mid-term elections last week reflected expression of disapproval by the voters over his performance and promises – And, now it remains to be seen whether the foremost black president of US can spell magic in the remaining two years of his term, as a case of turnaround.

It is said that the world’s two biggest democracies have committed to a total of $15 billion worth of deals. But, more than political and strategic partnerships with India, Barack Obama certainly seems to have arrived here in search of a disguised mandate of creating jobs for the nearly 15 million people who are unemployed in the US.

Surprisingly, the buzzing growth story of India constitutes to the extent of only 12th largest importer of the US products – which has a lots more scope to improve in terms of satiating the ever-increasing demand from an emerging nation of 1.2 billion citizens.

That’s how President Obama’s prioritization of Business links over Politics, on his first ever to India visit, can be defined – if one were to check the past records of job estimates which signifies that prevailing unemployment figures is nearly 4 million more than when Obama took office.

How else can you describe President Obama’s effort of spending most of his tour schedule in interaction with students and youths of the country – and, not as much with the political big-wigs where the actual geopolitical power play stays?

Early Sunday morning, the Mr Obama spent time with the teachers and students celebrating the Diwali and cultural activities in Holy Name School in Colaba. He also made a brief visit to a museum devoted to Mahatma Gandhi before heading towards a meeting of the US-India Business Council.

Further, on Sunday afternoon, the President spent 75-minute session with Indian students at St Xavier’s College in Mumbai handling questions about Pakistan, Mahatma Gandhi and US-India relationships.

After shaking a leg or two with the school children in Mumbai, the US President spent 40-minutes at Humayun’s Tomb, a World Heritage site, in Delhi. In short, this trip can be best described as a business-cum-tourist trip than any other stuff.

What India expects from this trip?

  1. Easing of tough policies of Obama towards outsourcing – Definitely, not possible.
  2. US support for India’s claim to permanent seat in UN Security Council – Obama unlikely to announce explicit support; though he might just express views on India’s growing power and role in the international system.
  3. Relaxation in US export controls on India – Partial expectations could be met.

What US expects from India?

  1. More Indian defense contracts at a time when India’s defense sector is overhauling of its military hardware – It is estimated that over $30 billion for weapon procurement and modernization of India’s military could be at stake over the next 2-3 years. Thus, Mr. Obama might look at diverting some orders from India – who mainly relied on Russian military hardware, until now – to create jobs and revenues for the US manufacturers.
  2. More co-operations revolving around the South Asia policy, especially in helping US to flex its arms with China over growing distrust and policy difference between US-China relationships.
  3. Pitching for level playing field in India’s Foreign Investment regulations – President Obama has termed Indian FDI regulations as opaque and urged for an atmosphere of genuine competition for its firms doing business in India. He has asked India to lift its restrictions on the FDI in multi-brand retail. Whether or not such policy changes will be adopted, only time will tell.

One clearly gets a sense that nothing dramatic is likely to emerge from this visit.

  1. Zubair says

    @Altaf You sound quite cynical about Obama no matter what he did and did not. It’s a usual practice of any leader especially from west to meet people of the visiting country.

    It was not his, but India’s mistake to have not pitched for what we need if we were clear that he was here for bagging jobs for his people back home.

  2. Altaf Rahman says

    If some thing happens once its called Incident. If the same repats second time its called coincidence. If it happens third time it becomes a fact.
    When Clinton visited India its an unbelievable feeling. When Bush visited India it was a very very happy moment. Now we feel its normal. (On the other hand if Obama did not visit India its some thing to be worried about).
    Nowadays its become a routine for US Presidents to pay respect to India. From that point it does nto excite to see Obama in India.

    One newspaper headline best defines the situation of Obama. He is crying loudly “Give me jobs” (or I’ll lose my job).
    To be blunt, there is nothing Obama can do for India. He knows that he is fast losing ground to opposition back home. The sole purpose of visiting East is to return to US triumphantly to show to the American public that he secured few jobs for Americans.
    He did not promise clearly to support India for permanent UN seat, he did not support to ease visa hurdles ( he may be right in saying he has responsibility to save US jobs) He did not support India in lifting restrictions on Indian exports. He did not promise to lift restrictions on technology exports to India.
    All he was interested in is to secure few orders for US companies. Indians also played the game cleverly by keeping the already agreed contracts till Obama visits and sign the agreements in his presence. 10 billion USD in all and he was happy thinking that he achieved great success.

    Bottom line : Neither India nor Obama made any inroads either politically nor businesswise. Nothing concrete came out of this visit.

    If we see the itenery of Obama visit, I feel sorry for US people to have such a stupid president. There is no purpose in the visit. He spent 2 days in site seeing, state dinners and mingling with future hopes of India (school kids). If he has any business sense or sence of urgency he would have spent day and night trying to bend Indian policy in favor of US rather than the tamasha. May be he feels that in his capacity as US President he is entitled to a vacation.

    1. Viral says

      Altaf,

      Quite agreed with your perspective.

      For a global political figure initiating a tour abroad at the expense of tax-payers’s $200 million per day (correct me if my stats are wrong), spending half the time of the scheduled tour in enlightening the younger generation cannot be termed as plainly logical.

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