Obama’s Visit to India: hopes are high on both sides

US President Barack Obama begins his four-day trip to India Saturday. His wife Michelle will accompany him to the western city of Mumbai. Obama also plans to meet with the eminent Taj Mahal.

It will be a meeting of the world’s biggest economy and the world’s biggest democracy, as the US and India look to deepening economic ties and bilateral relations.

Moreover, the goal of this visit is to establish a “robust” dialogue between the two countries.

However, some analysts think that this trip is more of a symbol – aimed at establishing a parallel with the US-China relationship, such as seen in the annual US-China Economic Dialogue.

Some experts say that unlike the dialogue with China, which is multi-ministerial, the forum with India will be focused purely on economic and financial regulatory policy, led by the US Treasury and the Indian finance ministry.

Although the relationship between the United States and India is based on a number of common interests, the two nations also share values that help to encourage a unique bilateral relationship.  As India works to transform the lives of its own citizens, the values of pluralism, democracy, tolerance, and secularism it applies in this effort are familiar to the American people.

One major point of contention between the United States and India has been the status of legislation protecting nuclear suppliers from liability, a part of the landmark Indian-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement. This visit could be a positive step towards U.S India bonds according to Shivshankar Menon.

“Overall the relationship is robust, it is growing in both directions and it’s creating jobs and prosperity in both countries. I think that is the important point,” said India’s ambassador to Washington, Meera Shankar.

BBC reported that Trade between the United States and India has more than doubled in the last five years, but the US is no longer India’s biggest trading partner. Instead, China currently holds the number one position, followed by the UAE and then the US.

Also, total bilateral trade in good between India and the US was worth around 40 billion dollars in 2008. This is still significantly lesser than US trade with other countries like China and Europe according to reports from India.

The newly formed US-India Economic and Financial Partnership was announced by President Barack Obama last year in November, when he honored Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh with the administration’s state dinner.

Obama is expected to discuss other issues, such as climate change, combating terrorism and the Kashmir palaver, and improving ties and hopes of cooperation.

At present, US-Indian relations are at a high point. The US and India signed a landmark nuclear deal two years back which highlighted a milestone in relations between the two countries. Expectations are high on both sides in prelude to this visit.

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