Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Obama’s trip to India was more about posturing and politics than anything.

He came, he saw, he conquered — this is how one can describe U.S. President Barack Obama’s Tuesday meetings with India’s elite in New Delhi.

On one level, the summit-level talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Obama were more about personalities than about specific issues. The issues took a back seat and personalities dominated the Indian media.

No one bothered to investigate the real content of the new nuclear deal. No one asked what a $4 billion dollar promise in investments and loans will mean for India. No one questioned the consequences of Indo-U.S. proximity for stability in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region more generally.

On one level, it seems that Obama’s visit has optic value more than anything. People in large seem to be happy, however, that Obama came as the chief guest for India’s Republic Day parade. Modi understands the fancies of middle-class India. An American president’s grand declamations and praise for the country satisfy the ego of India’s new middle class and the youth who want to see India emerge as a powerful nation in the world.

By hosting Obama on India’s most important day, the Indian prime minister honors the impatience of the urban middle-class which voted overwhelmingly for the the BJP leader in last year’s general elections.

When Obama came down from the podium after delivering the speech at Siri Fort auditorium and mingled with the crowd, there was a mad rush to shake hands and take selfies with the U.S. leader. The crowd was hypnotized. They were ecstatic that the American president had just said that he believed India could be among the United States’ “best partners.”

Once the dust settles down and fine print of the nuclear deal comes out, the reality will strike the people. For the time being, people in Delhi are feeling relieved that Obama has left India. By for The Diplomat

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