Obama’s Visit ‘India’s Success will be the Success of the US’


Despite the challenges, Obama as the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day ceremony provides a great and historic opportunity to strengthen the relationship further

Indian and American experts participating in a panel discussion on the theme ‘President Obama’s Visit to India: A Leap Forward in the Bilateral Relationship?’ were unanimous in their views that the US President Barack Obama’s upcoming second visit to India in four years should be viewed with cautious optimism and awareness of ground realities.

Despite the challenges, Obama as the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day ceremony provides a great and historic opportunity to strengthen the relationship further.

“The US-India relationship has grown incrementally in a brief period of about

20 years. The focus should now be on where we should go next, keep the new goals in mind to take the relationship to the next level. The US can and would profit from India’s rise to great power status. India’s success will be the success of the United States,” former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner said.

However, he maintained that both the nations had to be aware and pay attention to the complex relationship with China, Pakistan and Afghanistan and on the issue of cyber security.

Admitting that there will be issues and differences between India and the US, Shyam Saran, Chairman, National Security Advisory Board and former Foreign Secretary, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached out to Washington in the last four months, despite ‘his own personal bitter legacy.’

Former Foreign Secretary Saran didn’t agree with the American view on India not doing enough on civil nuclear cooperation, climate change, the nuclearisation of Iran, and Ukraine issue.

“Washington needs to understand New Delhi’s concerns and compulsions, while at the same time accept that there is a new energy to the relationship that needs to be exploited for the greater good of both nations. Expectations are good. We (the relationship) have acquired depth. The India-US relationship is a remarkable story in itself. If the Indian growth story takes off, the business relationship will be the promising driver,” he said.

“There is much to be realistic about the relationship. The sky is the limit as far as where both governments and their leaderships want to take the relationship to. I am glad there are disagreements in the relationship, and added that pre-conditions cannot be applied to ties if progress is to be made in a realistic sense. Momentum can be expected on the economic front and defence. Climate change and promotion of clean energy is an important aspect of it. We need to build on this success. We have a lot of areas where we can work together, be it cyber security or counter-terrorism etc.,” former diplomat Satinder Lambah said.

Founder and Chairman of the Avantha Group, Gautam Thapar, said that he was bullish about the relationship. “Both nations have to get their act together. The visit by President Obama may be symbolic, but is very significant, and the aim should be to take the relationship beyond the government-to-government perspective,” he said.

The discussion, organised by the Ananta-Aspen Centre, was moderated by Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

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Alankar Srivastava
Alankar Srivastava

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