Sunday, November 7, 2010

Obama Visit: Sense and Nonsense

Obama is the guest and India the host. Traditionally, we give great importance to hospitality. Adhithi Devo Bhava.

Let us listen to what the President of America has to say. The rethink of the Communists on boycotting Obama’s address to the MPs is a sensible decision. Prakash Karat’s Cambridge speech about breaking away from the shackles of the past seems to have had some effect. The 1940s which was mentioned in that speech reminds one of Quit India movement. The Leftists stayed away from that massive uprising by the people of India. At that point of time Brittan and Soviet Union were on the same side, in World War II.

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, who received the US President into India yesterday, was invited to a meeting hosted by the Americans. There was a condition that he should submit identification papers for entry to the venue. He refused to attend the function.

The US officials did apologise saying that it was a clerical error. There have been quite a few ‘clerical errors’ by the US in the past. They did not care then. Now the apology mode is on. India has grown into a big boy.

The BJP spokesman criticised Obama for not blaming Pakistan at the memorial function at the Taj Mahal Hotel. It was a poignant occasion. Talk about Pakistan would come later, and it did. Here we must understand that Obama is in a difficult position. The na├»ve US policy, starting from the time of John Foster Dulles (Secretary of State 1953-1959) of ‘Brinkmanship’ fame, has placed that country in a peculiar situation. The American funding ($ 2billion even recently) is used by the Pakistan Army to fight effectively or not the extremists on the Afghan side and at the same time carry out terrorism against India.

The Indian National Congress was not far behind the BJP. Some of the Party people felt that Obama should have mentioned Nehru when he was in Mumbai. How many Indian Presidents and Prime Ministers visiting the US have talked there about Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln?

Why are we so sensitive of what other countries say about us? It indicates a lack of self-confidence. We are what we are. And the world is recognizing our position.

Yesterday (Saturday) evening in a discussion programme about Obama’s visit on a major national TV channel there was a young fellow. What I understood was that he is a research chap from the CPM. He was critical about India spending money to create jobs in the US and the business contracts that were signed.

The people who concluded the agreements are well-known for their business acumen. They are not going spend money just because some Americans would get jobs. It is all business. For instance, Spicejet could have gone to Boeing or Airbus for the 33 passenger jet aircrafts they need. They took a business decision to place the order worth $ 2.7b with Boeing.

This order creates thousands of jobs at Boeing which otherwise would have gone elsewhere. But what happens when those jets come to India? We need more pilots, cabin crew, ground handling staff, people to organize transport arrangements etc to handle the increased traffic. More jobs are generated. Every genuine import either sustains or creates new jobs. When we imported heavily from Russia, the Left leaning pundits did not raise any objections.

Obama has conceded some of our demands, but there is much more to be obtained. Let us be confident that our Prime Minister and Government are capable of handling India’s interests.

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