By Dinesh Sharma.
India’s most recent Republic Day may mark the start of something new. The U.S. President’s official visit was long awaited after the election of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party last May. On his historic, three-day visit to India, Barack Obama championed international cooperation between the two nations along the lines of development, democracy, and, last but not least, industry.
President Barack Obama’s attendance marks the first time a U.S. President has been invited to the Republic Day parade. India and the United States have had a history of mistrust and suspicion since the Cold War, when India and the Soviet Union were strategic partners. For years, the U.S. and its allies blocked the transfer of technology to India in order to curb its nuclear ambitions. This Western policy isolated India from serious foreign business for many years.
The U.S. President’s visit was therefore symbolic. Obama, the head of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, spoke to India as it celebrated the 65th anniversary of its founding as a constitutional republic. As India’s influence grows on the world stage, Obama envisions a future of cooperation between the two nations:
“I believe that the relationship between India and the United States can be one of the defining partnerships of this century. When I spoke to your Parliament on my last visit, I laid out my vision for how our two nations can build that partnership. And today, I want to speak directly to you—the people of India—about what I believe we can achieve together, and how we can do it.”
Two Nations Intertwined
Obama connected the struggles both nations have faced, linking caste with race, gender equality with democracy, poverty with economic opportunity, and India’s diversity with its ability to shape the 21st century in concert with the U.S.
The two nations have much in common. Like distant paths converging through history, India and the U.S. seem to be heading in the same direction for the foreseeable future. The hug Obama and Modi shared in greeting on the tarmac is representative of the partnership their two nations are developing.
Obama’s visit on Republic Day was a rite of passage for both nations, made possible both by …
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