Column : The ball is in India’s court
Official Delhi, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was quick to welcome the election of Barack Obama for a second term as the US President. India is undoubtedly happy with political continuity in Washington for the next four years.
Conventional wisdom in Delhi is that the Republicans are more empathetic than the Democrats to India’s political aspirations at the regional and global level. The Republican electoral platform this year was indeed effusive in its call for a ‘geopolitical alliance’ with India.
Yet the reality is that Barack Obama, despite many initial reservations in Delhi, has expanded the basis for Indo-US cooperation, the foundation for which was laid by his Republican predecessor George W Bush.
That India did not figure at all in the foreign policy dialogue between the Democrats and Republicans this year pointed to the absence of internal squabbling about Washington’s approach to Delhi. The current obstacles to the advancement of the bilateral relationship, however, are not in Washington, but in Delhi, where the political drift of the last few years has slowed down progress.
Four years ago, Delhi was deeply concerned about Obama’s approach to Pakistan and China, two major external factors that have historically clouded India’s relationship with the US. After initially musing about a possible American mediation between India and Pakistan on Jammu & Kashmir, Obama quickly backtracked and has refused to involve Washington in Indo-Pak disputes.
In 2009, Obama seemed to accept Pakistan’s argument that India is part of the problem in
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