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NRIs see upswing in Indo-US ties

There is a palpable feeling among Indian Americans that Bush's reelection will see a steady upswing in Indo-US ties.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Washington
UPDATED ON NOV 06, 2004 04:28 PM IST

There is a palpable feeling among Indian Americans here that President George W. Bush's second term in office will see a steady upswing in ties between Washington and New Delhi that will not only be more vibrant and but also broad-based.

Dino Teppara, an attorney, echoes the feeling that the second term of Bush will see a continuation of the "very positive upswing" that is already in place.

Teppara, who is the senior legislative assistant to Republican Joe Wilson, chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, says during the coming years there may be more weapon sales to India and more military joint exercises.

"This will help both militaries of both countries to learn more about each other and how to be more successful in fighting the war on terror," Teppara said.

The foundation for stronger ties has already been put in place with the successful completion of phase one of the Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership (NSSP) which was signed before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Bush in September on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

Ramesh Kapur, chair of the Indo-American Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee, which agreeing that the bilateral ties will improve, says the depth of relationship "would have become stronger with (John) Kerry. Just the basic concept that Democrats are more a mosaic of cultures and ethnic groups which fits more with the way India is."

He also feels that the Bush administration "will also make sure to strengthen relationship and bring it to a higher level".

Walter Anderson, associate director, South Asia Studies Programme, at the Johns Hopkins University, says if Kerry had won the polls there would have been some "discontinuity" which would have been discomforting for India because the new administration would have been more sensitive to job outsourcing.

Kerry had during the campaign stump had initially come out strongly against job outsourcing to countries like India and had spoken of levying extra taxes on US companies that did that. But during the television debates with Bush last month, he had somewhat mellowed his stand.

The nearly 1.8 million Indian American population, one of the top earners among the ethnic communities in this land of immigrants, were also divided equally in their support to either Bush or Kerry like rest of the US.

Anderson says that Kerry would have put more emphasis on non-proliferation issues "which will not be the case now".

Another difference that may have emerged if Kerry had pipped the post first would have been "less intrusive on some strategic issue, for instance on Iraq where the Bush Administration has concluded that the US interests re directly at stake, and this make Indians uncomfortable", says Anderson.

Now that Bush is once again back in the White House, what will this mean to Indian Americans, in terms of jobs in the new administration.

The top contender to become the next surgeon general is Zach Zachariah of Florida. Anderson says "it will be logical one since they (Bush governing council) feel compelled to do something, and that is very senior position."

Teppara also hopes that the number of Indian Americans who may be inducted to serve the new administration will also go up.

Bush was the first US president to appoint an Indian American woman, Appa Reddy of Tennessee, to a presidential commission.

Indian Americans also feel that they will benefit from Bush's stand on the tort reform, small business owners like convenience stores, restaurants, hotels and motels, tax cut, "his general strength and leadership on the war on terrorism.

Kapur sums up the feeling when he says: "The community has matured over the years ...they have achieved so much in the professional level with only politics left as the last frontier. We hope to carry forward this Indo-American Leadership Council and keep that participation going."

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