Don't forget India, Mr Obama
Barack Obama’s re-election as the President of the United States will give some cheer to the American people, as there will be stability and continuity of policy. He now has four more years to deliver on the promise he made in 2008.
India, meanwhile, needs to take this opportunity to push for a strong bond with the US. It is no secret that New Delhi’s dialogue with Washington has been sporadic and without much focus in the last four years. The impetus provided by the US-India nuclear agreement — a process that began in the George W Bush presidency - has not seen much progress under Obama.
There are several issues that need India’s serious engagement with the US. Pakistan, for instance, has been a thorn in India’s external as well as internal security. Part of the problem with dealing with Pakistan has been India’s own inability to get anything out of Islamabad. The other part of the problem has been India’s inability to get the US to pressure the Pakistan government into conceding its role in the 26/11 terror attack.
One such travesty is the freedom with which the 26/11 mastermind Hafeez Saeed moves around freely in Pakistan despite the $10 million bounty on his head declared by the Obama administration.
India also needs to lobby hard on immigration reform. Apart from the more popular H1-B and L1 visas, thousands of Indian families remain separated for years because are they unable to get the coveted ‘Green Card’. This is not only a political problem, but also a social issue.
Other issues include collaboration in science and technology, improving trade relations and bringing down tariff barriers, sharing high-end technology, agriculture, etc.
Thankfully, India’s ambassador the United States, Nirupama Rao, is one of the country’s most accomplished foreign service officers. She needs to take the lead in engaging with Washington much harder than it is happening at present.