News / USA

Expectations Modest Ahead of Obama-Singh Talks

U.S. President Barack Obama is received by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he arrives for bilateral talks. Nov. 8 2010.
U.S. President Barack Obama is received by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he arrives for bilateral talks. Nov. 8 2010.
TEXT SIZE - +
Aru Pande
— Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travels to Washington on Friday for a working visit with U.S. President Barack Obama, capping a year full of high-profile exchanges between two of the world's largest democracies. However, while there have been a great many pledges made, some say the U.S.-Indian relationship has seen few breakthroughs since a landmark nuclear deal was approved in 2008. 
 
While briefing reporters in New Delhi last week, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh cited an incredible 55 official bilateral exchanges or visits when noting the momentum the U.S-India relationship has gained so far this year. The foreign secretary said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s upcoming talks with President Barack Obama will reaffirm the political commitment both sides have in deepening ties.
 
“A visit such as this is focused not merely on deliverables but also on establishing and reaffirming the strategic benefits that each side derives from the relationship,” said the foreign secretary.
 
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden expressed similar sentiment during their trips to New Delhi this year, but political analysts in India and abroad say the rhetoric has not translated into reality since 2005, when then-U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh brokered a deal allowing India access to civilian nuclear technology after decades of isolation over the country’s nuclear weapons program.
 
Referring to the 2005 breakthrough, Rory Medcalf of the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy said, “it removed the biggest obstacle of discrimination and mistrust in the global political systems between the two countries, but now the hard work has begun. The follow-through to the nuclear deal has been pretty messy and disappointing. U.S. industry is not happy with Indian nuclear liability laws. There are trade barriers or societal barriers on both sides.”
 
Medcalf also points to Indian concerns about changes to American visa rules that would make it harder for Indian IT workers to operate in the United States. Medcalf adds that India is also not quite ready to commit to a close alignment with the U.S. on issues like Iran.
 
Bharat Karnad, a professor at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, questions the need for India to align itself so closely with U.S. policy. Karnad says that under the Singh administration, the U.S.-India relationship has become increasingly one-sided, with India being asked to minimize its historic relationship with nations like Iran.
 
“On Iran, we have to absolutely stand our ground and say ‘no, you can do what you want - you are on the other side of the globe, but Iran is right here, it gives us access and all these other things and therefore we are going to be dealing with Iran the best we know how. And if that upsets you guys, go, upset,’” said Karnad.
 
Karnad says India must have a clear view of its national interests, whether in Afghanistan or East Asia, and that any relationship with the United States should not be “transactional.”
 
During Friday’s working visit, Prime Minister Singh and President Obama are expected to discuss bilateral cooperation on energy, security, trade and regional issues.
 
Analyst Rory Medcalf says both sides should go into the talks with measured expectations and patience; it may take years before U.S.-India ties can reach their full potential.
 
“India will play a constructive role in Afghanistan and has done so, India will be a very important voice in the Asian strategic order, such as the East Asia summit, and the management of tensions in Asia. But I don’t think at this stage India will be the kind of game-changing power that the Bush administration was hoping it would be when it began this strategic partnership,” said Medcalf.
 
For now, the Indian prime minister and U.S. president have their own problems to focus on, such as boosting their respective countries’ struggling economies.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid