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Monday, November 8, 2010

America’s “salesman-in-chief” takes aim at his real customers…..

President Obama’s “sales trip” to India has exhibited many moods keeping in view the niche he was aiming at.  His speech at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel commemorating the victims of the Nov. 26, 2008, terrorist attacks on India's financial capital neglected to mention the most expected "P-word" disappointing his hosts. This is because Mumbai was not his target customers and he did not want to reveal his sales strategy beforehand.  His target customers who had some clout to decide on doing business with him were in Indian parliament. This is where he struck the right note for Indians, saying "We will continue to insist to Pakistan's leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders are unacceptable, and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice."

Meanwhile, his advocacy of a permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council was probably not aggressive enough for Indian leaders, saying only, "In the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."

According to Global Post,  the economic achievements of the so-called "salesman-in-chief" may wind up meaning more for U.S.-India relations than tough talk or a host of promises of strategic partnerships. The reason: This time it's America asking India for help, and that may change the dynamic between the two countries. Calling India "indispensable to addressing the challenges of our time," in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi today, the U.S. president outlined a raft of political moves intended to complement the business deals his delegation cemented in Mumbai. Yet even the biggest agreements — such as the removal of barriers preventing the sale of sensitive technologies to Indian space and defense organizations — appeared to be at least partially concessions to facilitate trade.

According to the paper, Obama will take home about $10 billion in deals ranging from $1 million to $4 billion in size that are estimated to create more than 50,000 jobs in the United States. And according to the Confederation of Indian Industry, that's just the tip of the iceberg. India's buying of U.S. military and nuclear hardware and civilian aircraft could create more than 700,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next 10 years, the business lobby claims in a recent report.

And what is the U.S. giving? Apart from the lifting of export controls and supporting India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, Obama and Singh announced that the two countries had agreed to expand cooperation in space exploration, clean energy research, health, agriculture and higher education. Among the concrete steps to emerge from the bilateral talks will be a new joint research center in India focused on alternative energy, a joint disease detection center and agricultural initiatives designed to rejuvenate the fading gains of India's "green revolution" — which was fueled in part by American scientists.

At the same time, it's clearer than ever that U.S. policy on Pakistan is not going to change, "despite the evidence of Pakistan's duplicity," said former Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, who was not persuaded by Obama's statements to the Indian parliament about pushing Pakistan to dismantle terrorist camps and prosecute the perpetrators of the attacks on Mumbai. In that context, building "win-win" business ties with America may be India's best shot at changing U.S. foreign policy, even as its increasing power makes the relationship more and more complex. As Obama pointed out in his address to parliament, "with increased power comes increased responsibility," and the U.S. will in the future be looking to India for support on issues like enforcing U.N. sanctions and criticizing corrupt dictatorships like Burma.

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