At a glance, President Obama’s India tour agenda looks like a lot of hokum. It is filled with symbolism and references to civil rights and freedom, but the reality is that it has a lot of subplots, intrigues, and personal ambitions riding on it. There is no doubt that India will be an integral part of his legacy as President of the United States, but will he be able to pull it off?
Historic Visit To India
Obama returned to Washington after his historic visit to India. He was mobbed, harassed, and taunted by a hostile press gallery, but mostly treated with respect. A lot of people who were not even Americans can’t imagine what it would have been like to be in India at that time. There is no better first-hand experience than being there with a president – it is like being in the middle of the Golden Triangle. Obama, along with the other two presidents, seems to have gotten carried away during their historic trip.
Political Discussion On Kashmir
Obama’s India trip got off to a great start, with the first stop being New Delhi, the capital city of India. After a long day of activities – including a sit-in protest by India’s Freedom fighters against the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir – Obama had a much more serious discussion with B.J. Bush about the Kashmir situation. After the two leaders discussed the situation, Obama offered words of advice to India’s leader to handle his country’s relationship with Pakistan properly. In a nutshell, Obama suggested that India and Pakistan need not be at odds – they should work better together.
India was also very impressed by Obama’s India trip planning – or lack thereof. India is one of the fastest growing and fastest changing countries in the world and is quickly becoming a major player in the region. There is much Obama and his team should learn from India’s experience when it comes to dealing with their neighbors and dealing with China as well.
Obama’s trip did not give him a whole lot of time to meet directly with the Indian people. On the contrary, he met with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the White House – and then left to spend the day at the Brand Gardens in Washington, D.C. Aides from the White House said that Obama was just passing through the United
States on his way to India but a lot of people were surprised by how seriously he took his visit. This is because – according to news reports – during the course of his stay in India, Obama had to meet with a lot of political leaders and high officials from across the South Asian country.
There are two reasons for this. One is that the political leadership of India needs to know that the U.S. remains a staunch ally in countering China’s rise to economic dominance. Secondly, a lot of people in India do not want the U.S. to shift its alliance with Pakistan into the South Asia region, especially after the bin Laden attack in Pakistan. (The Americans have been saying this for quite some time now.) If you’ll recall, after the September 11 attacks in America, Pakistan became an immediate friend and major supplier of military hardware to the Taliban.
If the President of the United States wants to promote better ties between the U.S. and India, he should remember that Indians in general are more receptive to diplomacy than their American counterparts are. The more he panders to Indians politically, the more Indians will side with him. After all, politics is always local. Perhaps Obama should have stopped his India trip early and gone to India to see how things are done there first. That would have been a lot less politically incorrect.