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!
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?
- Easing of tough policies of Obama towards outsourcing – Definitely, not possible.
- 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.
- Relaxation in US export controls on India – Partial expectations could be met.
What US expects from India?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.