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Obama's Chindia warning

For Barack Obama this is a Sputnik moment for the US and the country needs to put everything it has behind a national to beat the competition for jobs it faces in the world market from India and China.

world Updated: Jan 27, 2011 00:19 IST
Yashwant Raj

For Barack Obama this is a Sputnik moment for the US and the country needs to put everything it has behind a national to beat the competition for jobs it faces in the world market from India and China.

Just as the country did decades ago to overcome the lead Soviet Union got over the US by putting the first in the space, aboard spacecraft Sputnik. The US took that as a challenge and overtook the Soviet by putting the first man on the moon. And there were huge spinoffs as an entire industry followed creating thousands of jobs. Creating jobs in the face of global competition led by India and China emerged as the main challenge for the country in Obama's second state of the Union address Tuesday.

Unemployment in the US remains stubbornly over 9 per cent. Though there is general agreement among economists and government officials that the worst of the recession is over, but there has been no uptick in jobs. The president zeroed in on the creation of jobs as his main challenge. It's not going to be easy, as the world has changed. And there are new players - challengers - in the game. "Nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. "They started educating their children earlier, with greater emphasis on math and science." Obama cited "building new partnership" with India as part of his foreign policy initiative in "shaping a world that favours peace and prosperity".

Some commentators found Obama wanting on deficit cuts. "His speech sounded far more enthusiastic about the investments, but the deficit should come first," said Sebastian Mallaby, director, CFR's Centre for Geoeconomic Studies.