Unlike his predecessors, Barack Obama has the unenviable task of not only ensuring no let up in momentum but also to take the relationship between India and the US, supposed natural allies, to the next level. Not only does Obama have to smoothen the differences—that range from the Democratic party’s attacks on outsourcing of software services from India to American vacillation on Afghanistan—but his ability to deliver on any policy concession that requires legislative sanction will be severely cramped after his party lost control of the House of Representatives in the US Congress to the Republicans.
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At the same time, both sides need each other to cope with the rapidly changing global polity, especially the growing belligerence from China. However, they differ on the means, especially on the issue of forcing China to allow its currency to appreciate; India’s import dependence makes this a nobrainer, while the desire for the US to stimulate demand through exports makes this an imperative.
However, the one bright spark is the growing business-to-business relationship. Merchandise trade between the two countries, which was around $10 billion a decade ago is now projected to grow to $50 billion. Similarly, an area where both sides need each other is in the knowledge economy, particularly education. With India bringing down entry barriers, the stage is gradually being set for building a deeper relationship in this area. This may provide yet provide a perfect bridge for the two countries to retain the momentum till such time candid exchanges will help resolve the differences, some of which are on key issues.