Two US foreign policy experts have suggested that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi can "revive India's sputtering economy and give new élan to a disillusioned and rudderless US-India relationship."
Noting that since 1991, India-US "bilateral relationship has gone through many stop-and-go cycles," James C. Clad and Brent Scowcroft wrote in Foreign Policy magazine that "With Modi in place, the boom part of the cycle is about to start again."
"A BJP-dominated central government, led by a proven Thatcher-like and market-oriented Hindu conservative, is likely to prompt another cascade of hype, aided by an enthusiastic new generation of Indian-Americans," they wrote.
"The Modi era may offer a chance to recast US-India ties in more realist mode," wrote Clad, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for Asia, and Manning, a senior fellow of the Brent Scowcroft Centre for International Security at the Atlantic Council.
"To the degree Modi succeeds in re-energizing India's economy (as he has done impressively as chief minister of Gujarat), he will give substance, and not hot air, to a deeper US-India partnership," they wrote.
"Perhaps the foundering efforts at a bilateral investment treaty, or even the prospect that India may eventually join the trans-Pacific Partnership, could shape a realistic, forward-looking bilateral agenda," the experts suggested.
"Modi's success will depend on how effectively he empowers the private sector and how he implements the next belated phase of market-centred reforms," Clad and Manning wrote.
The two experts suggested that the US "stay clear of 'wish'-driven agendas, driven by the American desire for a 'natural ally' in South Asia.
"Delhi has its own reasons to be wary of China, as Modi stressed during his campaign. But don't expect allegiance to US views on China or major global issues," they said.
"A more modest, focused, and realistic agenda can put the US-India relationship on a more enduring foundation," they wrote suggesting that while "the economic piece is critical," the "second foundation remains security cooperation."
"As Modi goes, we suspect, so also will go a rejuvenated partnership with India, one based on bedrock interests, not romanticized wishes," Clad and Manning wrote.
"Both countries can and should build a solid, and necessarily more modest partnership, than has been wished since 1991," they wrote.