Indo-US Relations on a Roller Coaster Ride
Notwithstanding all the media spin given by their policy establishments the reality is that United States-India relations are on a rollercoaster ride with the advent of the Obama Administration. The new US Administration has re-charted America's relations with India's two main adversaries, China and Pakistan, and this does not go unnoticed by Indian public opinion. Nor does go unnoticed that the Indian Prime Minister has a marked propensity to bend backwards or yield to United States pressures on accommodating Pakistani sensitivities, the Sharm-al-Sheikh Joint Declaration signed by Dr Manmohan Singh with the Pakistani Prime Minister being the prime example. This Indian Prime Minister and his foreign policy team have virtually 'out-sourced' India's foreign policy to Washington all along. The United States too has exhibited a persistent propensity of adopting individual-centric foreign policy approaches in India like it habitually does in Pakistan. On all counts these trends do not augur well for the future of US-India relations. By doing so the United States can squander Indian public opinion goodwill existing
The Congress Government has not released in the Indian public domain the complete text of the Ed User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) that was signed last week during Secretary of State Clinton's visit to New Delhi. If there was nothing to hide then why this unwarranted secrecy? Is it an American decision or has the Indian Government something to hide by giving in to US pressures where it should not have given in on national security grounds.
It is strange that the United States has exhibited unrestrained exuberance in hailing the EUMA as a significant victory virtually while the Congress Government has shirked from taking India's Parliament into confidence. This is reminiscent of Dr Manmohan Singh's secretive stances during the finalization of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal. The full text if I remember correctly was first leaked in the United States.
The United States policy establishment, irrespective of political dispensations, has failed to realize that their foreign policy approaches as applied in Pakistan cannot be replicated in India. The United States cannot strategically afford to strike deals with the Congress Government over the heads of the Indian Parliament or being oblivious to Indian public opinion's strong feelings.
By such policy propensities, the United States runs into dangers of squandering the widespread goodwill that the United States enjoys presently in India. It cannot be taken as granted and an everlasting phenomenon.
One is not aware as to how well the United States is organized to have feedbacks of Indian public opinion on crucial issues that dominate US-India relations and more specifically on issues wherein China and Pakistan figure and where vital Indian national security issues are involved. But one thing that this Columnist has always been stressing in discussions is that the intensity of Indian public opinion cannot be gauged by American diplomats in South Delhi's drawing rooms or from regular invitees to Roosevelt House.
One can only quote that India not electing to sign the CTBT was not because of any Prime Minister's decision or some divine revelation to the Indian foreign policy establishment. It was the intensity of Indian public opinion on this issue and the strength of their nationalistic feelings that forced the then Government's hand in not signing the CTBT.
Similarly while the United States embarks on a sustained campaign for India to change its military inventories to US-origin military hardware has it ever pondered or bothered to ascertain as to whether the Indian Armed Forces are inclined to do so.
It is high time that the United States becomes responsive to Indian public opinion trends rather than investing on individual-centric policy approaches on vital issues stated above. The United States disregard of this imperative or being cavalier and oblivious to these realities have already seem to have placed US-India relations on a roller coaster ride.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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