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.
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

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid