What Obama Must Accomplish With India

This article is from the archive of our partner .

This week's Washington visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh carries high stakes for President Obama and U.S. interests. One of the highest is our war in Afghanistan, which we cover here. But also on the table are economic, energy and cultural concerns. How can Obama engage Singh and strengthen the close U.S.-India bond that President George W. Bush is credited with forging?

  • India Before China  Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute for International Economics worries Obama is favoring China over India. "Chimerica [a term for the Chinese-American partnership] is a relationship of necessity, of expedient but uneasy accommodations. India–United States is a relationship of choice between people who share similar and enduring values," Subramanian writes. "Success on trade, climate change, and other G-20 issues will require India’s participation. Indeed, the United States may well find that even bilateral issues such as China’s undervalued exchange rate are more effectively addressed multilaterally with the presence of India, Europe, and other emerging markets."
  • U.S. Colleges Should Educate India  The Far Eastern Economic Review's Vishakha Desai wants to focus on education. "This may not sound as sexy as a civil nuclear energy deal, but education has the potential to completely transform this bilateral relationship," Desai writes. "Fifty four percent of India’s population is below the age of 20 and only 11-12% of Indians go to college compared to 22% in China. If India is to truly take advantage of its 'population dividend,' it needs to have a focused and urgent attention to secondary and tertiary education." Desai calls for U.S. educational institutions to step up for "a new level of global partnership in the American higher education system."
  • Scientific and Military Partnership  The Boston Globe's Nicholas Burns writes that "the president could build on common US-India strengths in education and science by proposing more significant cooperation in space research and environmental technologies that would play to the comparative advantage of our private sectors and the 100,000 Indian students in the United States." Burns also advocates selling "advanced American military technology" to India.
  • Address Regional Concerns  The New Atlanticist's Mohan Guruswamy insists that helping India with China and Pakistan is key to securing its economic partnership. "Now the leader of Asia’s fourth great economic powerhouse comes calling. But while the others would have focused mostly on economic and financial issues, the Indian Prime Minister will have a very different agenda. Despite an economy that is now expected to quadruple by 2020, taking it very high up the global pecking order, regional politics will be high on India’s agenda for the foreseeable future. As far as India is concerned, its troubled geography with Pakistan and China determines its priorities."
  • Be Like Bush  The Daily Beast's Tunku Varadarajan says President George W. Bush set a high bar for U.S.-India relations. "India had grown used, under Mr. Obama’s predecessor, to alpha-dog treatment. George W. Bush was the best American president India ever had, and Mr. Obama’s ability to take India for granted is, in some measure, a tribute to the extent to which Mr. Bush locked the two countries into a presumptively inseparable alliance," he writes. "In fact, under Mr. Bush, improved relations between the two democracies came to acquire an almost moral imperative, one than can—and must—survive the short-term reliance on Pakistan in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.