First US President at Republic Day
President Obama’s presence at the Republic Day 2015 will likely not only be ceremonial, it should fast forward the USIndia Strategic Partnership as also accelerate the Indo-US Nuclear Accord.
In what is being described as a diplomatic coup, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade 2015. The invitation was reportedly delivered by Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Myanmar and Australia, when he met with President Obama at the East Asia Summit and the G-20 meeting of world leaders. It is definite indication of the deepening ties between India and the US. It is only after receiving confirmation of President Obama’s visit the Prime Minister Modi had tweeted, “This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over… invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest.” Concurrently, a statement by the White House Press Secretary on the official website noted, “This will mark the first time a US President will have the honour of attending Republic Day, which commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution. The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership.” It is not that Prime Minister Modi and President Obama have met periodically in recent past during the former’s visit to the US and later in Myanmar and Australia, it is also the propensity of Prime Minister Modi to affect the psychological connection that has helped elevate the relations between both countries.
The concern shown by Prime Minister Modi at the UN General Assembly about maritime safety in AsiaPacific, threat of Europe facing new division, terrorism etc were common to both countries. While Modi made a commanding bond with Indian Americans, a joint Modi-Obama op-ed in Washington Post as prelude to official discussion between the two talked of commitment to democracy, liberty, diversity, enterprise bound by common values and mutual interests, natural and unique partnership can help shape international security and peace for years to come. Finally, the Vision Statement for the US-India Strategic Partnership “Chalein Saath Saath: Forward We Go” was the crowning feat of Modi’s visit, major points of which are: currents of kinship and commerce, scholarship and science tie our countries together allowing to rise above differences by maintaining long-term perspective; cooperation fortifies a relationship that matches innumerable ties between peoples producing works of art and music, cutting-edge technology and response to crisis; partnership joint endeavour for prosperity
and peace; together, we will combat terrorist threats, respond expeditiously to humanitarian disasters and crises, prevent spread of WMDs and remain committed to reduce salience of nuclear weapons while promoting universal, verifiable, and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament; support open and inclusive rules-based global order, in which India assumes greater multilateral responsibility, including in a reformed UNSC; join together to mitigate impact of climate change; partner to ensure both countries have affordable, clean, reliable, and diverse sources of energy, including efforts to bring American-origin nuclear power technologies to India; ensure economic growth in both countries to better livelihoods and welfare for all including value education and skills; joint research and collaboration in every aspect— ranging from particles of creation to outer space, producing boundless innovation and high technology collaboration; open markets, fair and transparent practices in trade in goods and services; collaboration in tackling infectious diseases, eliminate maternal and child deaths, eradicate poverty and empowerment of women in a secure environment; expand and deepen strategic partnership in order to harness the inherent potential of two democracies and burgeoning ties between our people, economies, and businesses, seeking reliable and enduring friendship that bolsters security and stability, contributing to global economy, and advancing peace and prosperity throughout the world, and; that this transformative relationship as trusted partners in the 21st century will be a model for the rest of the world.
The importance of US-India Strategic Partnership is increasing by the day, main factors being: the Great Game unfolding in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) with China establishing 18 naval bases in the region, proliferation of Chinese nuclear submarines with some docking in the region under pretext of rest and recoup; Chinese aggressiveness not showing any respite in the Asia-Pacific, IOR and along the line of actual control (LAC); tunneling and Chinese missiles reportedly being deployed in Gilgit-Baltistan to support operations in IOR; continuing policy of terrorism by imploding Pakistan, persis- tent rants on Kashmir without legal standing and Chinese support to Pakistan; Pakistan arming her vessels at sea with tactical nuclear weapons; increased terror threat of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Taliban, LeT etc in Af-Pak and South Asia including, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and; presence of PLA in all development projects taken up by China globally that would include the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor and other projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Pakistan with attenuating effects. US defence industry is looking to explore possibility of US partnering development of India’s next-generation aircraft carrier, sell India unconventional oil and gas, permit US companies to use Indian space launch services, accelerate US efforts to integrate India into the multilateral non-proliferation regimes, deepen meaningful cyber-defence cooperation with India, follow up on projects subsumed by the IndoUS Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), overcoming impasse over the nuclear liability law, etc. India looks to implement the Vision Statement for the US-India Strategic Partnership “Chalein Saath Saath, enabling India’s growth and contributing to stability in the region in addition to bridging India’s asymmetries vis-à-vis its adversaries. The recent reports about President Obama having approved guidelines to allow US forces in Afghanistan to target Taliban fighters, broadening previous plans that had limited the military for counter missions against Al Qaeda this year is a welcome step that would permit air support to Afghan forces when needed. President Obama’s presence at the Republic Day 2015 will likely not only be ceremonial, it should fast forward the US-India Strategic Partnership as also accelerate the Indo-US Nuclear Accord. It provides an opportunity for President Obama to exercise such foreign policy initiative considering the dynamics of the IOR and the shape that they would take by the time the 58th quadrennial US presidential election are held (due on November 8, 2016), while he will continue to exercise full executive powers till January 20, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama,
at the White House in Washington DC