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Obama will strengthen Indo-US ties, say experts
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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November 05, 2008 19:52 IST

With a strong grip over 'third world issues', Barack Obama [Images] will strengthen America's already growing bilateral ties with India, but the two countries might witness friction over critical issues like non-proliferation, analysts have said.

Obama's views on all things Indian

Terming Barack Obama an example of 'what is best about America', policy experts said his Presidency will mark a policy continuity vis-a-vis India, in recognition of the country's major global power in the 21st century.

"Barack Obama is a living example of what is best about America. I have no doubt US-India relations under him will see the strengthening of the relationship under the last two Presidents. There will be, I believe, policy continuity," former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth said.

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"I have no doubt he recognises the importance of India as a major global power in the 21st century and he is going to work to see that relationship strengthened and expanded," Inderfurth, who is expected to play a major role in the Obama administration, said.

Another known South Asia hand, who has handled Intelligence and Research at the State Department for a long time, argued there will be consistency on big issues but some questions might arise between India and the Obama administration on issues that are sensitive to New Delhi [Images].


"For India, Obama has said he would support the nuclear accord. The question will come in as to how far he pushes on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. India is not likely to agree on either of those. So there is a potential structural glitch," said Walter Andersen, a one time senior State Department official.

"I don't think US Foreign Policy is going to change all that much. There is going to be consistency on big issues," Andersen, currently the Associate Director of the South Asia Programme at the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University, added.

Obama's controversial stance on Kashmir

On Kashmir, Anderson said the US under Obama is likely to take a 'cautionary stance' though the President elect has during his campaign has talked about the need for a resolution of the issue.

"I think President Obama sees India as an important democratic element of stability in an uncertain area," Andersen said.

Referring to Obama's statement that he would encourage the resolution of the Kashmir issue, the International Coordinator of the Indo-American Kashmir Foundation Vijay Sazawal, said while an Obama administration is not expected to mark a major policy shift it will continue to encourage bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan.

How Mahatma Gandhi inspires Obama

Arguing that Obama has a strong grass-root connection with South Asia, including India, visiting Scholar of South Asian Studies at the University of Virginia Harold Gould said his 'Third World perspective makes him remarkable'.

"All of the signs are that he has very strong and positive feelings toward India. And I would say not so much at the level of the big shots but at the grass roots level. Apparently when he was studying in New York, I think his room mate was Indian and he has eaten Indian food," Gould, a scholar who has written extensively on India and South Asia said.

Contending that effects of US's economic condition on India go much farther than US policy regarding outsourcing, an Indian American financial analyst argued that Obama's ability or inability to tackle America's financial woes will play a major role in India's economic growth in the near term.

"Much attention has been given to President-Elect Obama's protectionist views and the effects it will have on the Indian economy. However, it should be noted that effects on the Indian economy go much farther than US policy regarding outsourcing," said Anirudh Sarathy, a financial and investment analyst with StreetEdge Investments in San Ramon, California.

"Today, India is a country that no longer heavily depends on outsourcing. The financial ties run much deeper. Obama's ability (or inability) to tackle his country's financial woes will play the biggest part of India's near term growth," he said, adding global markets can now breathe a sigh of relief.

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