Kanwal SibalJanuary 23 , 2015
The visit of the American president, Barack Obama, to India this month as chief guest at our Republic Day celebrations invites some reflections on the state of India-United States of America relations and expectations from the visit.
India-US relations in the last decade have become distinctly warmer. The 2005 India-US nuclear deal dissipated mutual strategic distrust and triggered numerous dialogues in the areas of energy, education, health, science and technology, trade, defence, counter-terrorism, innovation and so on. This had the objective of building Indian capacities in various sectors with US know-how to fuel India's growth and give the US a greater foothold in an expanding Indian economy. These dialogues have produced modest results.
In 2010, during his India visit, Obama visualized the India-US relationship as a defining one for the 21st century, meaning, presumably, that India as a democracy and a growing economic power could, in the decades ahead, join the US in managing a liberal global order. If shared values are the basis for India calling the US a natural partner, then India's democracy and pluralism have not shielded it from punitive US policies in the past and do not guarantee any special consideration in the future at the cost of US interests. In both cases, rhetoric and reality differ.