Expectations from Modi-Trump talks

There is evident expectation in certain sections of the Government about the outcome of the Modi-Trump talks. India is a rising power and the US chief executive cannot afford to ignore it, is the common thinking. True, but it is also true that China is another rising Asian Power which is much stronger then India and Washington cannot ignore it either. Then there is Pakistan. The traditional US policy of putting India and Pakistan on the same footing and keeping a ‘parity’ in their respective military strengths still dominates the thinking of American policy makers, Their weakness for Pakistan persists although they know as much as we do that Pakistan promotes and exports terrorism to at least two of her neighbouring countries. It is difficult to rationalize this stand, but well, there it is. When the US announced it was selling unarmed surveillance drones to the Indian Navy, it clarified at the same moment that it will not harm Pakistan. Was this assurance necessary?
Much store is being set for strategic cooperation between India and the US. New Delhi’s expectations should by tempered by the fact that no country sells its state-of-the-art latest cutting-edge technology to others. Invariably, it is technology which has become obsolete that is sold at a high cost. If the defence deal goes through without a hitch, India will end up spending tens of billions of dollars on second hand technology which may be no match for what China has. It will be a great diplomatic success for Modi if he can persuade Trump to give up, or at least temper, Washington’s hostility to Russia ever since the Ukraine crisis. The economic sanction imposed on Russia has forced it to gravitate towards China against India’s interests. The growing China-Pakistan-Russia axis, with all its economic, political and strategic dimensions, has become a major concern for India.
The Prime Minister has tried to impress US businessmen with his GST policy and ‘sell’ it to them as a great opportunity and attraction for US investment in India. The FDI inflow has never been very high during the last few years, despite the UPA and NDA governments opening up all sectors of the economy to foreign investment. GST may not prove to be the bait that hard-headed US businessmen will bite. The simple truth is that no investor – foreign or domestic – will feel liking investing in a sagging and recession-hit economy. The current agricultural crisis will have its impact on economy as a whole. The Modi-Trump talks may not bring an economic bonanza for India as many are expecting.

Thursday, 29 June, 2017