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02nd-Feb-2015

Prime Minister Modi's diplomacy with America and Bangladesh

By Editorial Desk

Delhi-Washington relations reached a new height as  US President Barack Obama visited India after Narendra Modi was elected as the Prime Minister of the South Asian economic giant. Obama's visit is a fresh bid to make Asia's third-largest economy an enduring strategic partner and nurture his friendship with Modi, who broke with protocol to meet and bear-hug Obama when he landed in New Delhi. Obama is also the first US President to visit India twice while in office to build on what he calls one of the defining relationships of the 21st century. The visit, which is seen as a symbol of US-India friendship, had also achieved a major breakthrough. In return for closer ties, India wants greater cooperation on terrorism and access to high-technology goods for civilian and military use. In comparison with India, though Bangladesh is a tiny dot in the world map, its Prime Minister in last December audaciously and unwisely nudged the US by saying that this country could survive on its own without the US.
Considering its size, location, fast-growing economy and potentiality as a democratic counterbalance to China, India is the  nation in South Asia which is increasingly becoming a key element of US military and commercial strategy.  The Dhaka-Washington relations are in the nadir as the Awami League high-ups commented negatively on the US envoy and engineered a one-sided so-called election negating the call of the US for an inclusive election thus denying chances of our getting economic and military cooperation from the super power.
During the visit, three documents were issued --- the 59-paragraph US-India Joint Statement titled "Shared Effort: Progress for All", India-US Delhi Declaration of Friendship, and US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region. The most significant breakthrough was in operationalising the stalled civil nuclear deal. The deal was supposed to lift a US moratorium on nuclear trade with India, allow US companies to build nuclear reactors in India and provide nuclear fuel for its civilian energy program.
The Congress-led UPA government was forced to pass "Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages" in August 2010, when BJP and the Left Front stiffly opposed the agreement. The bill allowed operators (i.e. India) to sue suppliers (from US) in case of accidents but suppliers and the US government were against such a condition. The second problem was that the US insisted on tracking fuel supplies to reactors.  India was against this condition because of it being intrusive. After formal talks at Hyderabad House, Modi and Obama announced a breakthrough. India will create a "pool of insurance" to take care of damages in case of accidents - meaning US reactor suppliers will not be liable for accidents. US withdrew the 'fuel tracking' clause as India agreed to sign an "Additional Protocol" with IAEA, which will allow more intrusive inspections of its civilian nuclear installations.
The "Friendship Declaration" lists a number of steps to enhance defense and commercial ties between the two countries. President Obama also attended the US-India CEO summit in Delhi. Speaking to the corporate leaders President Obama pledged $4 billion in lending by US banks. Though the potentials are immense, the hurdles relate to India's intellectual property rights (IPR) protection standards and India's regulatory environment.
During the press conference Indian PM Modi called the US president by his first name. "Barack and I have forged a friendship. There is an openness with which we talk; we talk comfortably over the phone, joke with each other…" This chemistry has not only brought us close or Washington and Delhi nearer but also the people of the two countries. India-US relations have never been smooth. However, there has been a U-turn in the American position towards India since Modi's massive electoral victory in May 2014.
India is the key for America's so-called Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at containing China besides balancing Beijing's Silk Road push into the Indian Ocean. India is only one part of a comprehensive US engagement with an Asia-Pacific region that is wary of China's growing assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea. China is already engaged across the region, economically of course, but also through development assistance, cultural exchanges, and educational programmes. A central benefit of peace and stability in Asia-a stated goal of  US efforts to  rebalance to the region-is greater commercial opportunities throughout Asia. Trade and economic ties can be part of the means to a strategic solution in the region, and not just the ends.
While, Modi's government is adamant to improve the relation with US, a most powerful minister of the incumbent government, also spokesman of the ruling party, called the US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal a "worthless minister" and addressed the former US ambassador to Dhaka Dan W Mozena as a "housemaid", saying, "Bangladesh's situation is no more in such state where a 'housemaid Morzina' can influence the shift of power." Their fault was that they called for an inclusive and participatory elections which was also negated by the government and arranged the January 5 election to ignite the ongoing political crisis.
On our part, we have a government fully in grab of  the  retired bureaucrats who are their trusted advisers thus lack political vision. Now the government does not even need our votes to call itself elected. They do not need cooperation of other countries for uplifting the people from poverty and  for ensuring the country's rapid progress. To our leaders what is most important is to remain power. To use the potentialities of our country and gain international status and honour as a  safe and successful country are not matters to be taken seriously. We do not need World Bank, we do not need  friendship with the Western countries. Only India is enough as the most trusted friend of the present government. That is not the way our people think. Our young ones have global ambitions to establish our global success.