As US President Barack Obama is nearing the end of his tenure, a panel discussion on ‘Obama Presidency & India-US Relation’, was organised by the ‘Indo-American Friendship Association’, at India Habitat Centre in national capital recently, which was attended by a number of prominent speakers and experts.
Speakers were of the view that Obama’s two terms had been very beneficial to Indo-Us relations.
There had been improvement in all the directions especially in the area of bilateral trade as a result of which it almost became double.
John Armiger, Political Officer US embassy, felt that since India-US relations has grown so much that it is no more possible for anyone to reverse the process.
“Bilateral trade is over $ 107 billion and aim is to take to $ 500 billion,” he added.
While answering a question John said, “During Obama’s tenure as the President of US relations between the two countries soared. Tie between the two great democracies has never been so strong. Today our relationship is truly global.”
He further added, “The President Obama supports reforms in UN Security Council with India as an important member. Defence and security partnership is critical and we are working in this direction. Both the countries are working in this direction. He said in addition to these US is taking care of India’s energy needs.”
“About one million Indians got US visa. There has been 30% increase in Indian students in the United States and 69% h1B Visa went to Indian professionals. Obama’s two terms have been fantastic as far as relationship with India is concerned,” John went on to say.
Former ambassador SK Lambah said that Indo-US relations started taking shape during the period of ex-PM Narasimha Rao, who took many steps to improve relations with US, after things started moving in better direction.
“When Obama came in power he took many initiatives to improve relations between the two countries,” he added.
Another speaker, former foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said that Obama has strengthened relations with India.
“It was Dr Manmohan Singh who took initiatives in this direction and things started moving fast. Obama during his period took great initiatives in the field of education and health. The document which was released during PM Modi and Prez Obama’s meet was really many dimensional and it says all about their relationship,” said Mathai.
Well known economist Rajiv Kumar was critical of some actions of US Government and raised the issue of higher fee for H1B visa.
He said, “US has not done enough to show its close relationship with India in many matters".
Rajiv was also apprehensive of the joint communiqué between both countries about growing bilateral trade and taking it to $500 billion.
"It’s not going to be possible unless US changes its ways and shows more flexibility. There are many thorny issues which have been put under the carpet,” he added.
Former ambassador Surendra Kumar who asked witty questions to the former diplomats as well as John, was of the view that because of PM Modi’s efforts, two countries are enjoying great relations today.
“PM Modi’s recent visit to US was also fruitful and cemented relations between the two countries. It is really impressive that the two leaders met five times during the last two years,” added Kumar.
Speakers were unanimous in the view that it is a time of transition for both countries and both India and US should work on right direction. India should see the relationship in a broader context and should not forget that US is a big market. The government should look at business opportunities and work on them.
They also felt that it is difficult to say how Donald Trump would act if he becomes president of world’s most powerful nation as he has not unfolded his cards
Former ambassador to US, Meera Shankar was of the view that Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton will be a suitable President for India seeing her past actions.
“As a first lady she visited India and since then she is taking interest in this country. She was of the view that India should be kept at par with China. She always showed her interest in India,” Meera added and said, “Whereas Republic candidate Trump has not cleared his ideas about India but otherwise he has said that India is a country he likes.”
What will happen to Indo-US relations when President Obama’s tenure completes? Which one of the two candidates, Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump will enter White House?, these are some of the questions only time has the answer.