Home Politics 3 key takeaways from Obama's tour to India

3 key takeaways from Obama’s tour to India

Though US President Barack Obama’s visited India as the State guest for Republic Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured substantial work was done on the foreign policy front too. That PM Modi was already taking a different approach to foreign policy was evident right from his swearing in. However, the broad contours of India’s reach was less evident so. This was also due to the experts’ fixation on Pakistan being part of every foreign policy decision of successive governments. Here are the 3 key developments that I think are critical:

Pakistan is best ignored

PM Modi’s stated focus on economic revival of India’s fortunes must have given us a hint. Pakistan is not a big economic partner for India. At best, they were a noisy neighbour. There was not a single word uttered on Pakistan during the entire visit of President Obama. Of course, mainstream media continued their rants.

However, my guess is that Modi has understood that Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif is not serious of improving relations. Exchanging pleasantries during the SAARC summit aside, there has hardly been any noteworthy developments reported. When a Pakistan cannot support India’s request for an International Yoga Day, it is foolhardy to expect anything sensible from them.

- Ad - - article resumes -

PM Modi also seems to employ the “Reagan doctrine” to tackle Pakistan. Former US President Ronald Reagan substantially increased US military budget and thus showing the will and initiated the process of domination of America. This effectively changed the balance of power between Russia and US. Reagan also looked any altercations in other countries through the prism of US-Russia relations. Thus, Reagan convinced the West European partners to limit trade with Russia which resulted in squeezing Russian economy.

PM Modi is similarly systematically wooing and winning over erstwhile allies of Pakistan. With Obama not even mentioning the customary – “India and Pakistan need to resolve Kashmir issue bilaterally” – is a coup of sorts for PM Modi.

Carrot and Stick approach towards China

PM Modi did concede more to Obama in the joint statement when chiding China’s adventures in the South China Sea. NY Times reported that Modi was really irked that Chinese military ventured into Ladakh when their President was visiting India. This may only be partly true. PM Modi knows too well that China is only one of the few countries which can really invest in India in a big way, thus helping him in his economic agenda. Precisely for this reason, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be dispatched to Beijing in the first week of February and PM Modi himself will be visiting Beijing later this year.

With the Chinese economy on the downward trajectory, as predicted by various agencies, India presents a huge opportunity for China to make a significant splash. Getting the Chinese leadership active on the economic agenda would be a mutually beneficial venture for both. Now that the government has decided to invest heavily into expanding the rail network in Arunachal Pradesh, there are bound to be hiccups. This is where Modi is hedging his bets with the US and Japan to keep the Chinese politburo on its toes. The joint statement from PM Modi and President Obama also called for continuing the “India-US-Japan Trilateral Dialogue”. This will be an interesting event to watch out for.


Prior to the visit, one concern in the foreign policy media was about if Modi would request Obama to cancel his plans of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, there has been no talk about it during or after the meetings. On the contrary, I think, India will be more actively engaged in the next phase of Afghanistan story. I would not be surprised to see Indian boots on ground, to compensate for the US withdrawals. There are two reasons for that:

  1. US has been asking India to be more responsible and active in foreign affairs, if it harbours hopes of being the permanent member of the UN Security Council. Modi may consider Afghanistan to be his ticket to that seat.2. Being a member of SAARC, it helps India to have all its member states.
  2. Being a member of SAARC, it helps India to have all its member states by its side for any eventuality. Being active in Afghanistan, strategically, may alter Pakistan’s terrorist havens on its Western border.

There have been other noteworthy news viz., economic partnership, 3 smart cities collaboration, et al. There has also been one sour point for me. Even if there was appreciation of India opening up FDI investment in defence sector, I do not think much will happen here. There is huge gap in understanding of IP related issues and I do not see technology transfer very soon. Assembling of parts or joint ventures may be the way forward till all issues are ironed out.

Nevertheless, PM Modi did charm India with the invite to President Obama and various reports in NY Times does suggest that US has indeed been, positively, taken aback by the active engagement from India’s side. Another step towards Achchhe Din.

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.

Big Story

While the date of the recording is not clear, it can be inferred from above conversation that it took place sometime in July.

2019 World Cup Is Here!

Catch the latest on Cricket World Cup as it unfolds, special coverage by Opindia

To Advertise on Opindia.com Click here

Army veteran Surendra Poonia receives threats from Pakistan, files online complaint with cyber crime portal

Major Poonia shared screenshots of the threats he has been receiving as well as screenshot of message which said how an unknown number had threatened to character assassinate him and malign him.

Barkha Dutt’s strange coincidences with a Kashmiri who wished death upon PM Modi and Amit Shah

Idrees ul Haq, with whom Barkha Dutt had a series of ‘coincidences’ is a known separatist sympathiser
Google search shows images of Pakistan PM Imran Khan on search of Bhikari

Old controversy resurfaces: Google throws up images of Pakistan PM Imran Khan when searched for “Bhikari”

This controversy is, however, not new. In December 2018, a resolution had been submitted in Punjab Assembly, Pakistan to summon Google CEO and question him as to why Imran Khan's images show up when one searches for the word 'Bhikari'.

Deplorable ‘journalists’ further Pakistan propaganda and undermine India: Why should their patriotism not be questioned

Indian 'journalists' and 'intellectuals' have taken up the mantle of peddling the Pakistan narrative on Kashmir it appears.
Shah Faesal was reportedly planning to approach ICJ over India’s decision to abrogate Article 370

IAS-turned-politician Shah Faesal was travelling to file case against India in the ICJ over Kashmir issue: Report

Shah Faesal was nabbed at the New Delhi International Airport on August 14 when he was trying to leave the country, reportedly, to Turkey

Purported email screenshots of Kavita Krishnan’s team show them discussing use of retired judges and ex-military officers for Kashmir propaganda

Purported screenshots of internal emails of urban naxals are being circulated on social media

Here is why Shobhaa De could be first in a long list to be exposed by Pakistan

India’s stand on abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and dilution of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a Union Territory has dropped the baby of pretence.

After the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan Minister expresses angst over Rahul Gandhi not winning 2019 elections

After abrogation of Article 370 by the Modi government, Congress and Pakistan seem to have found an ideological soulmate in each other
PM Modi's debut on Man vs Wild becomes most viewed show worldwide with 3.6 billion impressions, leaving Super Bowl behind

PM Modi’s debut on Man vs Wild becomes most trending show worldwide with 3.6 billion impressions, leaving Super Bowl behind

The appearance of PM Modi on Discovery’s ‘Man vs Wild’ show with survivalist and adventurer Bear Grylls has garnered 3.6 billion impressions and counting.
Shehla Rashid bats for Armed insurgency in Kashmir

Career-protester-turned-politician Shehla Rashid downplays terrorism in Kashmir, calls legitimate action by India ‘state terrorism’ instead

According to Shehla Rashid, India has been inflicting atrocities on Kashmiris since 1953
Subscribe to Day's Top Stories
[newsletter_form type="minimal"]
- Advertisment -

Latest articles

Connect with us

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post