MAGNIFICATION OF GRANDURE – OBAMA VISIT TO INDIA
“I bring to you the friendship of the American people. There were times when I was treated differently because of the colour of my skin. Even if we live in a world of terrible inequalities, there’s hope that a tea seller can become PM.”
“India and the United States are not just natural partners- I believe that America can be India’s best partner. ”
A new chapter has begun in the history of India-US ties with the recent visit of US President Barack Obama to New Delhi on 25th to 27th January as he also became the first US President to be the chief guest at Republic Day of India and to visit India twice during the term. A three-day visit focused on improving relations between the world’s largest democracies.
THE ARRIVAL ON DAY 1
As a departure from protocol, PM Modi went to the airport himself to receive and welcome the U.S. President, Barack Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama. Mr. Obama was given a 21-gun salute and a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. He inspected the tri-service Guard of Honour, which for the first time was led by a woman officer, Wing Commander Pooja Thakur.
In his speech at Siri Fort, Obama applauded the presence of women in Defense forces, referring majorly to his welcome ceremony.
“One of the favourite things on this trip for me has been to see all these incredible Indian women in the Armed forces including the person who commanded the guard that greeted me when I arrived (at Rashtrapati Bhavan). It’s remarkable. It is a sign of great strength and progress.”
US President pays his respect to his role model Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat and he was given a charkha as a memory. From there, he proceeded to Hyderbad House for Delegation meeting that revealed the new tie-ups of Indo-US partnership. Both the leaders managed to remove the hurdles to operationalize the civil nuclear deal besides deciding to jointly produce military hardware and stepping up economic engagement.
In what Obama called a “breakthrough”, the two sides resolved key hurdles pertaining to the liability of suppliers of nuclear reactors in the event of an accident and the tracking of fuel supplied by the US.
The most watched moment of the Modi-Obama relationship came at tea-time at Hyderabad House, when the two leaders stepped out (amidst the terror fear) for Modi’s coined CHAI PE CHARCHA, where PM Modi poured tea for President Obama, and both leaders were seen sharing very friendly gestures.
Below are the major achievements from the Indo-US partnership as disclosed by MODI-OBAMA:
1. Nuclear Deal
The significance of the completion of the India-US nuclear deal cannot be overstated. Signed in 2005, , India received a waiver in 2008 from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, making it the only non-nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) compliant state to engage in normal nuclear commerce while maintaining an active nuclear weapons program. Unfortunately, India is yet to attract U.S. suppliers to set up nuclear facilities on its soil due to an unfortunately harsh legal liability regime in the form of the 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act. This law creates unacceptably high amounts of risk for foreign suppliers. To address this, Obama and Modi are exploring the possibility of an insurance pool that will, in theory, moderate the risk exposure for U.S. suppliers and bring U.S. nuclear suppliers into India.
For the moment, as per the US sources, Westinghouse and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy have welcomed the agreement. The US made a concession to withdraw its demand to “monitor in perpetuity” any nuclear material it sold to India which, in turn, offered to create an insurance pool to protect US suppliers from law suits. While some analysts are sceptical of a real breakthrough, at least the two governments have reached an understanding. Now it is up to the private sector companies in the US to take the ball further.
2. Economic Reforms
Under the economic reform drive of PM Modi, the United States would stand first in line for the trade opportunities. “America wants to be your partner in igniting the next wave of Indian growth. As India pursues reforms to encourage more trade and investment, we’ll be the first in line,” expressed Obama.
Obama announced $4 billion of new initiatives to boost trade/ investment ties, jobs in India via Exim Bank and OPIC. The deal includes $2 billion of leveraged financing for renewable energy investment and $1 billion in loans for small medium businesses.
3. Made in the USA
US Exim Bank will finance a billion dollars to support ‘Made in America’ exports toIndia over two years. Obama also announced that two US trade missions will be in India this year with a specific focus on infrastructure development in rail, roads, ports and airports.
Though US exports to India have grown by 35% since 2010 and support 1.7 lakh ‘well-paying American jobs’, they still constitute just 1% of US’ total exports and its imports from India account for just 2%, Obama pointed out.
“We do $100 billion a year of trade with India, which is a great improvement since I took office. But we do about $560 billion a year with China. That will give you some sense both of the potential growth that India might unleash and the potential for greater trade between our two countries,” Obama said. The initiative to route investments from the Indian diaspora in the US, the president said, would be a public-private partnership.
4. Make Babudom Accountable
The personal chemistry between Mr Obama and Mr Modi indicates that the Indo-US relations are set to move to the next level because the top leadership has developed a personal stake in the relationship. This means pressure is on the two bureaucracies to sort out their differences and deliver on the promise of the relationship. They have decided to create a high-level India strategic and commercial dialogue to monitor progress on pacts and vision statements. This will hold bureaucracy accountable on both sides.
5. Big agreements
The joint statement ticked all the usual points, promising increased trade and investment opportunities. The phrase “bilateral investment treaty” appears in this joint statement, suggesting that the two countries are serious about walking the walk on improved economic ties. U.S. firms in particular have complained about excessive red tape and corruption as risk-adding factors for doing business in India and a potential bilateral investment treaty negotiation process would likely require significant domestic political support in India.
6. Defence framework agreement
The U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) once again makes an appearance. Back in September 2014, the two leaders noted that their countries would “treat each other at the same level as their closest partners” on issues including “defense technology transfers, trade, research, co-production, and co-development.” The DTTI is poised to increase co-production, co-development and partnership in U.S.-India military-industrial matters. The initiative is line with the Modi government’s plans to increase India’s defense self-sufficiency and increase the share of India’s military hardware that is manufactured on Indian soil. There isn’t too much new information about the DTTI in this statement, though Modi’s new “Make in India” initiative gets a shout-out in the context of defense co-production.
“We have renewed our Defence Framework Agreement. We will deepen our cooperation on maritime security”, said Mr. Modi during his statement after the bilateral talks.
7. Climate change factor
India will expand its use of renewable energy and move toward joining an international deal on global warming that would see developed and less-developed countries alike cap emissions. The development is a coup for the US.
“When we think about the future generations and what kind of a world we are going to give them, then there is pressure,” Modi told the press after speaking with Obama.
Obama, for his part, emphasized India’s importance for a global climate regulation regime:
”India’s voice is very important” in negotiations, he said. Under a new agreement, the US will also provide funding for renewable energy development in India.
8. Message to China
This is the first time India and the US have come together openly to say that they do not want Asia to be dominated by one power. Convergence on issue of East Asia-facing strategic initiatives, US, India and other Asia-Pacific countries will work to strengthen regional ties, sending China a strong message. Interestingly, the joint statement notes a confluence of two major East Asia-facing strategic initiatives by the two countries.
The statement noted the alignment of “India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and the United States’ rebalance to Asia,” and the potential “opportunities for India, the United States, and other Asia-Pacific countries to work closely to strengthen regional ties,” which will happen through consultations, dialogues, and joint exercises” as result. Combined with the symbolism of Obama presiding over India’s Republic Day military parade, this sends a particularly strong message to Beijing.
They will work together to keep freedom of navigation, maritime security and air space safe, especially in the South China Sea. They asserted that all disputes must be resolved within international law. There are pointed references to China’s behaviour in the region where it is embroiled in disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and even Indonesia. But this is not an “alliance” against China since both India and the US are economically engaged with Beijing. It is a sort of building of fences to ensure China follows international rules.
The statement also highlights the importance of the U.S.-India-Japan trilateral relationship. Japan is a U.S. treaty ally and an increasingly close partner to India. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was India’s chief guest at last year’s Republic Day celebrations.
9. Tracking terror
The Joint Strategic Vision document states that “regional prosperity depends on security. We affirm the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.”
The two countries “call on all parties to avoid the threat or use of force and pursue resolution of territorial and maritime disputes through all peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
The statement as usual includes clauses addressing terrorism, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism. Similar to the September statement, Pakistan-based anti-India terror groups are called out by name in the joint statement. The two leaders pledged to come together “to disrupt entities such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company and the Haqqani Network.” Once again, they “reiterated their call for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice.”