India should not put all its eggs in the basket of the US president

Published on on NEWSinsight, by Naxal Watch, November 06, 2010.

London, 5 November 2010: In continuation of the Wednesday commentary, “Summit & after”, and especially in the backdrop of Barack Obama’s “defeat” in the mid-term elections, India has to make calculated changes in its engagements with the United States. It is improbable that a prime minister as timid as Manmohan Singh will put into effect the “calculated changes” suggested by this writer, among them being to engage the US over and above the American president, encompassing the Congress, Wall Street and big business, NGOs, special interest groups, opinion-makers, the media, and so forth, but the collapsing presidency of Barack Obama gives little other choice … // 

… But as said in the beginning of this piece, it is unclear if a timid PM like Manmohan Singh will dare to go above Barack Obama’s head to engage with America. But if he cannot, others after him have to. And this is not something entirely new for India, although the circumstances were different before. Even though the former US president, George W.Bush, brought about the Indo-US nuclear deal, India also lobbied hard and purposively with other branches of the US establishment and with important enclaves of civil society to enable its bipartisan passage (and which Obama as senator opposed). In the present case, Obama is not proving friendly enough for India (although he is not capriciously unfriendly either; he is merely choked up and too daunted to make new initiatives), so others have strenuously to be engaged with. It may be that when India changes the US environment increasingly favourably for itself through its own efforts, Barack Obama may come more agreeably and willingly on board as a friend of India.

But the point is this. India must build ties with the US regardless of the person of the American president. This might appear a revolutionary suggestion but it is simply logical. This is the only way Indo-US relations will sustain and be insulated from the whims/ predilections/ ideologies/ personal inadequacies of whoever occupies the White House. If India wants a “natural alliance” with the US for its own strategic advancement and for its peaceful rise, it must have to begin looking beyond Barack Obama. (full text).

(N.V.Subramanian is Editor of, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). His e-mail).

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