The much hyped Obama visit to India is over. While Obama has won many hearts in India, he would also be hoping that countrymen back home would be satisfied if not happy with the promises of new jobs. The agenda of President Obama’s maiden visit to India was known as soon as his party suffered a setback in the midterm polls. At this point of time, his job is to create new jobs in US as the unemployment rate is high in the country. His and his party’s political future lies in how perfectly he performs the job. So there wasn’t a bit of doubt that this visit would be a business trip by the’ CEO of US’.
We can not blame Obama for making this trip a business oriented trip. With 9% unemployment rate, every responsible government will try to address the issue first. And in such a situation, there is no issues with the US president for trying to take advantage of the India tour for the gains of the US. After all why should president of another country think about the profit of another country? It was our duty to do our homework properly before the tour on what issues should be our official focus. Did we do that? Doesn’t seem so.
The focus of Indian state wasn’t where it should be. After getting re-elected to the United Nations Security Council(UNSC) and with a strong and booming economy, India should try to become a bigger player in the global stage. So along with issues like US ban on outsourcing, the top focus should have been on US backing for UNSC permanent membership. But we stressed too much on Pakistan and Kashmir. It was strange that while we oppose internationalization of Kashmir issue and Indo-Pak relationship, the focus was on if Obama will take the P-word in his speech. The whole political class was abuzz with Obama’s response on pakistan. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, using BJP platform, made a childish and hurried response expressing displeasure on Obama not taking Pakistan’s name in his first day in India itself. But there wasn’t much talk about the US’ response to the issue of its backing to India’s permanent seat in UNSC. Even the media was full with speculations and revolving between Obama-Pakistan-Kashmir. This certainly shows the lack of home work by the Indian side and presents a case of misplaced focus.
It was only on the 8th November that the talk on the US response for India’s permanent seat in UNSC got some air in the news space speculating if it would feature in Obama’s speech in the parliament. It did find some mention in the speech. Here is what Obama said on the issue:
I can say today — in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member
Though many would hail it as a defining statement, I won’t. Nothing concrete, no talk about if US supports India as permanent member with VETO power. This is just a symbolic statement to win hearts just like talking about ‘Gandhi as his inspiration’ every now and then. ‘In years ahead‘ does not specify a time frame. It is right that such symbols are very much important, yet a concrete, substantial response would have been preferred at this point of time when India and US are in close relationship – probably the closest in two countries’ diplomatic history. Probably, this could have been addressed if India had taken it up more seriously.
The bottom line is that India needs to take up the space of a global player and needs to solve its own problem itself. Expecting US to fight India’s war against Pakistan (the war exists at a psychological level) is foolish. As foolish as falling for symbolic statements. We should certainly be worried of the fact that we missed a chance to let America know about India’s aspirations because of stressing too much on other minor issues. To play big, you need to think big.