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Biden’s India Visit Is Key in Asia 'Rebalance' Strategy

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) shakes hands with Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari as they pose for the media before a meeting in New Delhi, India, July 23, 2013.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) shakes hands with Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari as they pose for the media before a meeting in New Delhi, India, July 23, 2013.
Aru Pande
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is in India for a four-day visit aimed at strengthening economic and defense ties. The U.S. sees India as an important part of the Obama administration's "rebalance" toward Asia.
 
Biden’s visit is the first to India by an American vice president in three decades, and follows U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip by just a few weeks.
 
The renewed U.S. attention on India in recent months comes less than two years after the Obama administration named the South Asian country as a key player in its pivot, or rebalance, toward the Asia-Pacific region.
 
Gopalan Balachandran, a consulting fellow with the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, said, “It’s not as if Asia economies are growing a hundred times and the rest are all standing still, and you say ‘okay, I will keep [seeing] Asia the same way like I did 10 years ago or even 15 or 20 years ago.’ It’s not possible. To some extent, the rebalancing is necessitated by changes in the global environment, both in politics and the economy."

Working strategically

In an interview with the Times of India newspaper this week, Biden noted that the “winding down of two wars” has allowed the United States to “turn to opportunities that reflect the realities of the fast-changing world.”
 
He spoke of the need for India, China and the United States to work together to advance common economic and security interests.
 
C. Raja Mohan, with the Observer Research Foundation, said both New Delhi and Washington share the common goal of not wanting an Asia that is dominated by China.
 
“But at the same time, India is not going to be a traditional ally of the U.S. eager to balance or counter China’s efforts. I think the shared objective for the U.S. and India is how do we structure a stable balance of power in Asia - and between that - there is much room for India and the U.S. to collaborate,” said Mohan.
 
This potential collaboration is a focus of the American vice president’s visit, as Biden aims to deepen economic, defense and energy ties. Key among the goals is to boost bilateral trade that currently stands at $100 billion.  

Advancing mutual interests

Increasing economic cooperation is not without its challenges. Some American companies have expressed frustration at what they see as India’s unfriendly investment climate. For its part, India has called for a U.S. immigration policy that will make it easier for highly skilled Indian workers to enter the American job market.
 
Despite these hurdles, Mohan said the U.S.-India relationship has come a long way in the last decade.
 
“If anybody would have said that India-U.S. cooperation would be as strong and as dynamic as it is today, few would have believed this proposition at that point of time. The fact is that because expectations have risen so much, there are disappointments on both sides," said Mohan.
 
Analysts say while such disagreements may not be resolved, Biden’s visit will go a long way toward consolidating progress and restoring political trust between the two nations.

Biden's schedule on Tuesday includes talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is expected to make his own visit to the United States later this year.
 
Biden then will travel to Mumbai on Wednesday to give a policy speech at the Bombay Stock Exchange and meet with business leaders before leaving for Singapore on Thursday.

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Comments
     
by: Ashim kumar Chatterjee from: Delhi
July 24, 2013 6:13 AM
Biden visit is a middle page news in leading newspaper and 4th or 5th item in newscasts in TV channels. I visited VOA and find it is no different. This speaks volumes about the state of affairs. While Biden was shaking hands and saying hi how are you, substantive joint secretary level talks were going on between Chinese & Indian officials for defense cooperation. And yes - one does not know how true it was- one read a report which said China was willing to invest US $ 125 billions in Andhra Pradesh alone. India is the balancing factor in Asia. US India cooperation in defense, civil nuclear deal and technology can be attractive if US invests 6 trillion, which it spent in Afpak war on India's terms. Consumer is king.


by: Harry from: Texas
July 23, 2013 11:21 AM
Bilateral relationship with India should not follow the old model of domination but of mutual respect and benefit for both countries. The complaint by business is based on the old model; change to a model of mutual benefit and you will earn the most important friendship ever.


by: JohnL
July 23, 2013 10:49 AM
Only a government-funded media entity could find significance in a visit of our vice president to India. As a long time analyst who once taught at Punjab University and wrote a book about Indian economic development I can confidently assure your readers that the visit means nothing, will be quickly forgotten, and will have absolutely no impact on anything. Until India massively reforms its bureaucracy and regulations India will continue to stagnate economically at the very bottom of the world's economy and export the best and the brightest of its people. The so-called "growth" reported by the government is similar to the growth reported by the old soviet union, a total fabrication with each ministry reporting that it exceeded its goals under the latest five year plan. Nothing will change until India either elects a strong leader or the people say "enough" and there is a revolution. The latter is more likely.

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