Monday, November 26, 2012
Obama’s re-election is blessing for India
As per The Wall Street Journal, “Obama's victory in the bruising campaign marks a landmark in modern election history. No sitting president since Franklin D Roosevelt in 1940 has won re-election with a higher unemployment rate, which stands at 7.9 per cent.”
Also, this election will be remembered for the excessive reliance on economic policies as its rallying point. With India-US total merchandise trade touching $57.80billion in 2011, the US is now India's third largest trade partner and hence shares many concerns jointly.
Despite WTO's reservations on such sound bilateral trade relations between these two countries, it's unlikely that any significant change will take place in their cooperation in the days to come. India's current diplomatic engagement with the US is primarily being driven by the hope that Mr Obama's return to the White House will make his economic sense more ‘improved'. But, stepping away from his anti-outsourcing stand would not be easy for the US President, leaving Indian corporates not much to cheer about at this stage.
During the presidential debates, India attracted only fleeting interest of the candidates. Though much like the rest of the world, India too breathed a sigh of relief at Mr Obama's re-election. By choosing to look askance at Mr Obama's first term, where US economic policies were shaped mostly against Indian interests, India has shown a progressive and pragmatic approach towards strengthening ties and dealing with the US Government's ‘new protectionist policies’.
Mr Obama's presidency started off on a less friendly standing with India when he initiated a short-lived, albeit deep, engagement with China. But the past four years have shown that his views have turned significantly in India's favour. His distrust of military-dominated Pakistan in Afghanistan clearly marks India's expanding future role in the South Asian region. So, it's hardly surprising if Mr Obama is now building Bush-era like close ties with New Delhi.
In his new term, an older and wiser Mr Obama is likely to rearrange policy on South Asia and adopt a stricter line on Islamic terrorism emanating out of Afghanistan-Pakistan region. So, in strategic terms too, the US President is looking to India for decisive cooperation in Afghanistan and West Asia.
Washington knows that a decade-old operation in Afghanistan can be ended only through a more proactive role by India. India, on the other hand must not forget that the “Americans are adept at producing or reproducing well packaged formulas”, and should follow the course with proper guard for maintaining its own foreign policy fundamentals.
In the post-Cold War scenario, the US is pre-eminent but nowhere has it held supreme position. The current global strategic scenario is heavily influenced by the US, but it will be too simplified if it is called anything close to ‘unipolar dominance'. USSR's breakup had strengthened the chances of a homogenised world. India must resist such developments as an idealistic leader of global politics. In the last six decades, India has been maintaining its independent stand on foreign policy unmindful of the brickbats and bouquets that came its way. Since 1947, the country has moved up and now it has a legacy to offer.
So, it was not by chance that Mr Obama named Gandhi as his inspiration just after winning the presidential election. With amazing diversity and capacity to act as a bridge between industrialised and developing world, India is now a prominent soft power state. It's a fair development that US now realises India's security concern more responsibly and accepts ‘terrorism' as the immediate target to fight with. The world's two great democracies, India and the US, face many common challenges and also share similar conditions to act on them.
Mr Obama's sharper and well-woven South Asia policy will be crucial for the all stakeholders. India and the US will be benefit in the new arrangements, which might be a conservative estimation though would be closer to the reality. The responses and counter-responses in the main areas of cooperation between the two countries will decide the future course. The present is promising enough with Mr Obama's return.
Atul K Thakur
(Published in The Pioneer,dated on November21,2012)