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Millennium Post

Modi’s charm offensive floors Obama

A preening Narendra Modi took every opportunity to break protocol – including receiving Obama at the airport – to show how gratified he was to Washington’s policymaking elite accepting invitation to Obama.

If one goes by the Joint Statement titled ‘Shared Effort, Progress for all’ New Delhi seems to have taken globalist view of its relationship with the USA. This aspect is based on the language of the joint statement including this. “Reaffirming that India’s rise is also in the interest of the United States, regional and global stability, and global economic growth, President Obama reiterated the United States’ readiness to partner with India in this transformation. The two leaders pledged to translate their commitment of “Chalein Saath Saath”: “Forward Together We Go” of September into action through “Sanjha Prayaas; Sab Ka Vikaas”: “Shared Effort; Progress For All”.

The statement which is the balance sheet and a profit and loss account of the bilateral relationship does not mention Pakistan in any great light – negative or positive - for example, though it talks at length about terrorism and moves to counter it. The seeming boiler plate statement urging Islamabad to bring to justice the perpetrators (unnamed) of 26/11 is the only concession Obama entourage made to India’s grouse about cross-border terrorism.

The statement significantly states that the two leaders are glad that the 2015 Defence Framework Agreement have been finalised, but does not say whether it has been signed and sealed, The exact act words were, “The recent finalisation of the 2015 Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship, which will guide and expand the bilateral defence and strategic partnership over the next ten years.”

The real meat and potatoes issue of the visit was the removal of obstacles to the US nuclear power giants like General Electric and Westinghouse that have not allowed all this while, since 2008, to encash on the business opportunities following the 123 agreement signed by Manmohan Singh and George W Bush. There the big point is about India establishing a insurance pool with a contribution of Rs 750 crores, and the premium to be paid by the reactor builders is yet to be decided. This cocks a snook at the nuclear liability issue in a way that New Delhi has promised to share with the builders – something that the latter had been always wanting that the operator takes the burden of a nuclear accident.

On climate change issues, there are two promises that both the countries have made to themselves. One is about business that the US will help establish a 100 gigawatt solar energy park. The other is, “They (India and Pakistan) also stressed the importance of working together and with other countries to conclude an ambitious climate agreement in Paris in 2015. To this end, they plan to cooperate closely over the next year to achieve a successful agreement in Paris. The President and Prime Minister reaffirmed their prior understanding from September 2014 concerning the phase down of HFCs and agreed to cooperate on making concrete progress in the Montreal Protocol this year.” This fine print of this concession will be clearer over the next few days.

And the end of it all, the last word may indeed belong to the AP’s White House correspondent saying, “The President is going to New Delhi to see a parade and the Taj Mahal.” Much to the chagrin of the Indian hosts, Obama cannot be pictured sitting on the marble seat with the Taj as the backdrop, holding hand of Michelle.
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