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Is a big ticket announcement on the way?

Last updated on: November 07, 2010 00:28 IST
M K Bhadrakumar, the former diplomat and strategic thinker, reviews the first day of President Obama's visit to India.

A good beginning has been made by President Obama on his first day in India. I think the day's events have been choreographed well to create a positive impression of his presidency in Indian as well as domestic and regional perceptions.

He comes out as an intelligent man, fully empathising with India, its promise and its difficult environment. This message comes out through the very shrewd decision to stay at the Taj Mahal hotel.

For an American president to identify himself with a symbol of such high poignancy by taking residence there and within a few minutes of his arrival reach out to the people by speaking of the trauma of Mumbai carries the message.

I don't agree with the perception in some media about what he has or not said about Pakistan or Mullah Omar. I think this is completely beside the point. In any case, protocol and diplomatic propriety demands that these are the issues to be discussed with the Indian leadership in the capital. He has made it clear that he is profoundly sympathetic to India on the issue of terrorism.

On the business part, Obama has projected that his primary concern is restructuring and resetting the relationship on the short-term and long-term basis. It is based on India's capacities and its impressive growth rate. In the business meeting, deals worth $10 billion were announced, but I don't think it's the end of the story.

The president's announcement that these deals will get 50,000 jobs is for the audience back home, but it is also an acknowledgement of the importance of economic relations with India.

Some people have said he is coming here to take money from the Indian sector. I think it is completely stupid if you allow me to use a strong word. Mutual benefitĀ is a two-way street.

Take the aircraft deal, it will surely help the expansion of the Indian aviation market. The Spicejet is by a hardcore businessman and he has bargained on a two-way street for a quality product at a competitive price. You should see India's interest and he is looking at his country's interest.

I think Obama's announcements today are just a starter, an attractive appetiser. In his speech, Obama has mentioned the free flow of technology to India, something we were demanding is now possible.

I won't be surprised if some major announcement comes our way. The removal of existing restrictions on technology transfer to India is possible.

On the whole, Obama comes across as a man who sympathises with India's sufferings on 26/11. It will be unfair on our part to compare him with President George Bush.

Let us not underestimate by any means his support to India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group or technology control regimes such as the Australian group and missiles control and so on.

In terms of India's aspirations, the de-listing of ISRO, DRDO and such organisations is a big step forward.

In the final analysis, I have to make a political observation. I won't be surprised that there are some big announcements in the pipeline.

One of the last meetings Obama had before he left for India was with Susan Rice, the US permanent representative to the United Nations, who was called to Washington, DC from New York. He is carrying her inputs.

She is fully aware of the fact that in the last election for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council there had been tremendous support for India.

I would imagine, in the overall spirit of support that India received, Obama may like to identify with India's aspirations for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. I would imagine that Obama may take the American stance on this issue significantly forward.

Obama in India: The best coverage, on Rediff.com

M K Bhadrakmar