India expects Obama 2.0 to be a continuation of the past two years, and is content at the prospect.
The first two years of the Barack Obama administration had put a strain on India-US relations. But the past two have seen the nature of the relationship move into new areas of cooperation.
US President Barack Obama is embraced by first lady Michelle Obama after winning the 2012 US presidential election in Chicago, Illinois. AFP/Robyn Beck
President Barack Obama’s initial attempts to woo China, the so-called G-2 policy, and his attempts to win over the Pakistan military as he sought to withdraw from Afghanistan went down poorly with New Delhi.
Both policies eventually foundered. Today, he takes a tougher view of China as evidenced in his “pivot to Asia” policy. And after the Abbotabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he has no illusions about Pakistan and its military. Obama is now seen as committed to building up India as a major power as George W Bush was before him.
With the geopolitics in place, India and the US are now looking at energy cooperation — whether shale gas, nuclear or renewable — and defence technology as the new priority areas in their relations.
These are perfect fits with the present Obama foreign policy, where energy sector growth is a key element in his economic revival plans.
Defence sales will also be important to bolster a sector that will be ravaged by massive Pentagon pruning in the coming years.
Obama has a strong personal regard for Prime Minister Minoan Singh who shares his professorial tendencies.
The two cooperate closely at the G-20 summits, as they did during the build-up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit.
As foreign policy in the second Obama administration is likely to be controlled by national security advisor Thomas Donavon and the present US envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, both of whom have played a crucial role in shaping the policies of the past two years, India fully expects relations to only get better.