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Obama has economy task cut out for India

world Updated: Oct 21, 2010 00:58 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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President Barack Obama's focus during his visit to India early next month is going to be on economy - exports and job creation - said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday.

"We understand what we have to do to create jobs, to grow our exports, to ensure that it just doesn't fall on American consumers to drive world demand," Gibbs said to a question on the visit at a White House, briefing.

It was not a prepared statement, but it did reveal the thinking in the White House, which is under tremendous pressure domestically on the economy - unemployment continues to be high at 9.6 per cent.

And the sluggish economy is being blamed in part for the President's poor personal popularity ratings (which have been no better for any previous president at the end of their second year in office).

And it's cast a shadow on the prospects of the Democratic Party candidates running in the mid-term elections due also in early November. Poll projections for the party are quite dismal.

That's the context of Gibbs's unprepared comments.

"That's a lot of what you'll hear the President talk about on that trip, and we'll hopefully have some tangible results from it," he added.

In other words, President Obama's mission will be to persuade Indians to buy more from the US, to help create more jobs in the US and get the economy moving up again. And get India to do its bit for world economy too?

The White House has not yet announced the President's itinerary or agenda.

A few items on the trip remained to be finalised - especially the Mumbai leg. "Delhi is complete and sealed - the address to a joint sitting of Parliaments included," said a source.

The President is actively involved in planning the trip, "The President is involved in fairly regular meetings with the national security team to ensure a successful visit not long after the elections," Gibbs said.

"It's an important trip."