Grading the President: Between Indian Hopes and American Reticence

Commentary | November 11, 2010

Writing for India’s The Telegraph, Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary of India and member of EWI’s board of directors, assesses the success of President Obama’s visit to India.

After considering the potential expectations from the American and Indian perspectives, Kanwal concludes that while the expectations were not met on every level, the visit was not unsuccessful.

There were four main focus points during Obama’s visit to India: the economy, India’s candidacy for permanent UNSC membership, terrorism and defense in India and the India-Pakistan relationship. 

Obama expressed concern about U.S. outsourcing, which did not bode favorably for the U.S.: “Obama has overplayed the outsourcing card and unnecessarily targeted India as a source of job losses.”  India-U.S. trade only accounts for one percent of the 2009 U.S. trade deficit.

Regarding India’s permanent membership to the UNSC, Sibal assesses, “His words do not amount to an unqualified support for India’s claim.”
Kanwal asserts that Obama made symbolic gestures regarding terrorism in India, but merely skimmed the surface of the issue.  At the heart of this are the conflicted relationships between the U.S., Pakistan and India.

Sibal concludes that the U.S.-India relationship will continue to have its challenges, but that Obama’s visit was an overall success: “All in all, he would merit a B+ grade.”

Click here to read Sibal's piece in The Telegraph