Obama and the Indian visit

Sima Nan  gave his assessment of the much hyped Obama’s recent visit to India during a TV interview. I must say his analysis is really incisive and spot on. It is better than what’s presented by the Western media or even the Chinese state media. This translation exercise took lots of time, and even then I’m still not satisfied with the results.


I feel that your words are basically correct. In fact Obama is in India with very important aims, though the immediate reason is to help resolve US unemployment problem.


Now that India and US has signed on a big form of contracts worth 10 billion US dollars that will provide 30,000 US jobs, as Obama has mentioned during a lecture. However, a number of analysts observed that such large entourage, of 40 planes, a thousand armour vehicles, requiring 3000 hotel rooms, such large scale visit, is comparable to Nixon’x visit to China in 1972.



The 1972 visit by Nixon was a new chapter in the US-China relationship. Thus some people joked that this time it is India’s style, expressed by the love-hate relationship. But the fact is that, it can never match the kind of honeymoon situation being brought by Nixon’s visit.

On the positive side, India and the United States are closer. They have said that this closeness is a very important matter for both countries. These are warm words.  India feels honoured in this respect.


There are people who said that Obama gave face to India, but India would say we gave you even bigger‘face’as our 78 year old prime minister was at the airport welcoming Obama. Previously, while in the White House, remember how Singh was treated? You are 49 and I am 78, right? Based on India’s or China’s local tradition, the elderly should be receiving utmost respect. But during the 77 hours when I was in US, you let a few youngsters receive me. I led your paternal grandmother at the airport to receive you. The 49 year old Obama was overjoyed, said the Indians. This is the highest deferential treatment given. There is no doubt that no matter what the feelings of Obama or  Singh, US-Indian relationship are becoming really close.    


On the surface though it as such, but in reality, there are cracks that split the lovers on the bed, as they have different agenda, not at all sincere to one another.   


Some people described this as lovers that been cold over many years ago. This time the man expressed a few points, but these are not really sincere. Some people said, with the US 10 billion order, isn’t that sincere? The problem actually appears in the 10 billion order.


From Indians point of view –  I will have C-17. Previously you opposed me having the C-17 even though you know that these large transport aircrafts are strategically important, and very useful for us. You imposed restriction, refusing to sell to us. Now you are selling to us; previously I intended to enter the nuclear club, and you did not allow me. Previously you have also opposed me having nuclear arms, but you are not opposing now and instead allowed me to enter the nuclear club. This is a really good thing.  



What does India really want? Well, India craves for two things, first is to be admitted as permanent member of the UN Security Council. But Obama does not raise this matter, no matter how Indian side hinted to him, as if never heard of it. Politicians have this ability of not listening on matters, but at times will take initiative when one does not even raise the matters. The people of India want to hear the words from Obama, but he did not raise it. (K Chew note: Obama did mention his support for India’s admission into UNSC. But these are just empty or really cynical words since it is widely known that the UNSC reform process is all talks with no concrete action plan, due to the intractable nature of the negotiation between all the competing powers). The India politicians are put in uncomfortable position, waiting for the few words from Obama that did not come out.


The second matter, is that India and Pakistan are arch enemies. India asserted that the Bombay terrorist attack incidence in which there was shootout with police that resulted in about 30 people losing their lives, is the work of Pakistan. Pakistan in return claimed that there is no evidence linking it to the attack. India public opinion on this matter also believes it is done by Pakistan, and as such Indian are hoping that Obama will censure Pakistan for the act of terrorism. But Obama does not censure Pakistan, and instead talks about “having dialogue to resolve conflict”. From this situation, the Indians feel the things they really want are not given. The buyer does not have the power to dictate – what a loss.


India media are saying, “now India is already the world’s economic centre”, “Indian people are studying on grooming its people to to be just like the American, displaying the same kind of confidence exuded by a big world power” – such words when we hear are just overly romantic. India is now the centre of the world economy ? India is grooming to have equal footing with and the United States on an equal footing, with the self-confidence of a big power?


Obama is a politician that is selected through election campaigns, depends a lot on his speaking ability, and not that much reliance on political experience. Thus, Obama really knows how to talk. When Obama observed that the India loves to blow their own trumpets, he spoke the following words. These words caused the whole of India to be snot out. Do you know what he said?


Obama said, “India is not a rising power,” and all the listeners face suddenly became very stern, ah, India is not a rising power, “according to the Americans, India is a great rising great power “.




Once the time for those words was completed, the Indian media became joyous. It was not only just humorous but very humorous. Obama assessed the situation, and then made everyone feel really moved by his eloquence.. 


But on the surface, it does not show the parties having constant bickering on the outside. But there is also a whole world of public discussions between them, with both having their own demands. On the outside, the Indian media are simply portraying the relationship like bed of roses.


About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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