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India should not let its guard down

Highlights

India should, therefore, try hard to achieve a better bargain during Obama’s visit. The President of US would forcefully seek maximum from India

India should, therefore, try hard to achieve a better bargain during Obama’s visit. The President of US would forcefully seek maximum from India

The President of the sole super power in the unipolar world, Barack Obama, will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. It is certainly a foreign policy achievement for Prime Minister Modi. The US which earlier even denied a visa to him is now coming forward to do business with the Modi-led India. None can deny the importance of good relations with US in the post cold war period. The over three million proud and patriotic Indian American community forms the cultural bridge between the largest and the oldest democracies in the world. The large untapped potential in the bilateral trade underscores the need for enhanced cooperation.

The challenge of terrorism further creates an imperative for both to come together. The two nations share democratic traditions, secular polity, ethnic diversity private enterprise- led economic system, commitment to free trade among many other things. But, all these commonalities should not make us oblivious to the challenges in the Indo-US relations. India should, therefore, try hard to achieve a better bargain during Obama’s visit. The President of US would forcefully seek maximum from India. During his earlier visit to India, he aggressively campaigned for the interests of US, especially for corporate America. No wonder, he would repeat the same this time. There are many such areas on which India should be extra vigilant to guard its interests. The most prominent among them would be resolving differences on the nuclear liability regime.

The US government and the nuclear industry of US do not want any liability attached to the nuclear trade. But, the Indian Parliament adopted a civil nuclear liability law that makes foreign companies liable for any supply of equipment or material with latent or patent defects in case of a nuclear accident. The differences over unclear liability deterred the progress on Indo-US nuclear trade despite nuclear deal between two nations. It would be disastrous for India if it succumbs to American pressures in this regard. Though a deal was struck between India and US on the vexed question of food security, paving the way for possible deal at WTO, India has still a lot to get from Washington.

Indian commitment to Trade facilitation is explicit, while American commitment to addressing the concerns of India on food security still requires a lot of clarity. India wants food security to be out of the purview of any trade talks. The US foreign secretary has promised greater military support for Pakistan which would be detrimental to the interests of India. The two nations have fundamental differences in regard to assessing Pakistan. America considers Pakistan as part of solution to the problem of terrorism, while India considers Islamabad to be a part of the problem. India should impress upon Washington to revisit its foreign policy in this region. There are many imponderables in trade too like the Intellectual property rights, trade protectionism etc. that need to be resolved.

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