Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is Obama good for India?

Don’t think so if you are looking at the kind of noise that is coming from the white house. From the time Obama was elected, this question pestered me as none of his speeces gave that away. However, now after more than seven months in office, the picture does not look good on many fronts for India. Recently US has tried to allay India's fears with Clinton's visit but those steps I think are too less and infrequent. Some of the major observations from which I could answer the question is given below.

Taxing Outsourcing
Obama – “It's a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York.” There is no problem if you simply plugging a loophole in your tax system. However, to associate Bangalore with the loss of jobs in the US economy is not the correct way of looking at the problem. The major issue is that the current employees have stopped adding more value to their work. Thus any business when sees that a guy can do the same work at a cheaper rate would definitely prefer the cheaper option. Another point here is that outsourcing is done to other countries as well apart from Bangalore.

Signing of NTP
India has always opposed the signing of NTP on the grounds that NTP would take away the minimum nuclear deterrence that India needs to protect itself from China and Pakistan. However, Obama administration is trying to get India sign it more dangerously equating India with countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Iran. This is despite the clean record that India has regarding nuclear proliferation. Iran and North Korea openly defy US and go on with their nuclear armament programs. On the other hand Pakistan is already indicted of proliferating nuclear technology.

Kashmir Issue
India has long adopted the stand that it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and there is no need for any third party to get involved in this. The visit of Jones and Hillary Clinton now do indicate an indirect pressure from US on India to resolve the Kashmir issue urgently. No issue in that. However, US cannot force a solution on India so that Pakistan is satisfied.

One major reason for such aggressive posturing is to please the Pakistani administration so that Pakistan deploys more forces on the Af-Pak border rather than on the Indo-Pak border. The situation here is ironic to say the least. US is giving millions of dollars to make Pakistan to co-operate on its war on terror. Pakistan on the other hand is gleefully accepting that, give more forces to US for manning the Af-Pak border and on the same time is putting the same money to develop terrorist camps in PoK to spread terror.


Emission Cuts
The US lobby is trying hard to sign India for the emission cuts which India has rightfully rejected. The main reason is that the emission level of India is far below than US or China itself. India contributes only 5% of the total CO2 emissions while US and China contributes 22% and 18% respectively of the total CO2 emissions.

For US, China is the buzzword as it is looking at China to escape from its economic turmoil as China can bankroll America’s debt. This is the main reason why for US, China is more important than India. China can ruin US without firing a single bullet. Similarly for China US is the single largest market for its cheap goods. Thus both US and China have become interdependent on each other for each other’s survival. India thus has to ensure, it doesn’t get sandwiched between the interests of these two giants. Another point to be noted is that the US for its war in Afghanistan needs Pakistan and for its economic security needs China. Thus US will always be wary of India’s interests to ensure its interests are met by China and Pakistan.

However US is trying to reduce India’s fears with the recent Hillary Clinton’s visit. We can only hope that US is really serious about its commitment towards India under the current circumstances where it is severely dependent on China and Pakistan.
Flipside to all this is that India, can stand up for itself and do not require US support on lot of issues that affect the world. However, we need leaders who can discern the difference between what is good for India and what is not in the long run. Can the current leaders do that? Only time will tell.

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