01 October, 2020

The Potomac Flows By The Yamuna

Realism trumps tall optimism. Obama’s visit must pave a path of trust.

The Potomac Flows By The Yamuna

A mere four months after Prime Minister Modi’s landmark visit to the United States, both governments are again rushing to put the finishing touches on a leaders’ summit. This time, the adoring crowds at Madison Square Garden will be replaced by the pageantry of a US president standing alongside the Indian prime minister on Republic Day. Both are firsts. And both tell a story about just how much has changed since the BJP returned to power last May.

The sceptics, however, are right to be dismissive of mere spectacle. The last dec­ade of the US-India relationship was one of unrealistic and unrealised expectations. As a result, some in Washington are asking—for good reason—what the US can hope to achieve with this historic trip beyond symbolic gestures. Coming so soon after the last summit, there has not been much time to make progress on big deliverables. All the same, there are three realistic outcomes that White House could plausibly hope for.

First, Washington would like this visit to signal that the US-India relationship is on its way...



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