The core economic agenda of Mr Obama, now that US growth rates are starting to go uphill, is the creation of jobs. However, the president has partly broken from the free market consensus that the US leadership held to since the end of World War II. When he calls on the US Congress to join him to “end those incentives to ship jobs overseas”, the Indian software service industry has reason to ask for more details. His endorsement of the present US immigration reform Bill which, while helpful to Indian immigrants, also has punitive measures against Indian outsourcing firms. India will rightfully wince at Mr Obama’s claim that the US military can withdraw from Afghanistan because its “mission” has been accomplished. That could not be further from the truth. Afghanistan is set to descend back into another round of internecine warfare — and this can be partly blamed on those who applaud his strong support for the dialogue with Iran. But it is noteworthy how almost no congressman clapped when Mr Obama spoke of it.
Mr Obama used to unnerve New Delhi by his talk of jobs moving from “Buffalo to Bangalore” and his demands that Americans needed to prepare for the coming competition posed by China and India. It is perhaps a statement of how far India has slipped in the global economic sweepstakes that Mr Obama did not mention India in this speech, referring only to how “China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines”.