'Obama will be fair to India, Pakistan'
US president-elect Barack Obama "will be fair to both India and Pakistan, without sacrificing American strategic interests".delhi Updated: Jan 15, 2009 11:42 IST
US president-elect Barack Obama "will be fair to both India and Pakistan, without sacrificing American strategic interests", says an Indian who studied with him at the Harvard Law School.
Surat Singh, who is headed for Washington to attend the presidential inauguration next on Tuesday as a special guest, says he is looking forward to the ceremony but before that, the brunch for the Harvard Law School alumni that Barack and Michelle Obama are to host on Sunday.
Surat Singh, who has written a book "What Can India do for Obama? A Lot", says the least that the Indians can expect of Obama is that his approach would be "international, as opposed to a parochial American approach".
He has no illusions about Obama protecting American interests on the outsourcing issue that seriously impacts India. But he is confident that Obama will make American economy "more open and more competitive".
On the Kashmir tangle, in which Obama has displayed some interest in a manner that has upset the Indian establishment, the next president could bring India and Pakistan to talk together, "to see that they disagree, without appearing disagreeable", Surat Singh said.
He was with Barack and Michelle at the Harvard Law School at the same time (1988-91) when, he recalls, Obama would go out of his way to befriend foreign students, who formed barely 20 per cent of the community.
Having a part of his family in Indonesia, Obama would say over pints of draught beer: "I know that part of the world. I know Indonesia. I know India."
Surat Singh does not claim close intimacy with the Obamas, being "one of the thousands of students" at the Harvard Law School. But he kept in touch with them after he moved to Oxford for another doctorate and returned home to practise law.
Surat Singh practises at the Supreme Court of India and at the Delhi High Court, is president of the All American Universities Alumni Association and was secretary of Oxford Cambridge Society of India. He has also headed the Harvard Club of India.