Author Archive

Obama and India’s Republic Day Parade

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November 21, 2014: The news was launched on Twitter: Prime Minister Modi, well known as one of the most prolific tweeters among today’s heads of government, had invited President Barack Obama to attend India’s Republic Day parade on January 26 as the chief guest. Within half an hour, the White House had announced (and tweeted) back: Obama was delighted to accept.

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India and the WTO: A Reprieve

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November 13, 2014: The announcement November 13 that India and the United States had agreed on a potential resolution of the dispute that threatened the future of the World Trade Organization was very welcome indeed. One of the comments that appeared on Twitter soon after the announcement was succinct: “Champagne?” The real answer is: no – a nice cup of tea would be more fitting. It will take some work to reverse the damaging impact of the four-month standoff that preceded it, and avoid a repeat.

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Book Reviews 2014 – Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India-US

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Five new books: Gary Bass on US diplomacy, a “forgotten genocide,” and the birth of Bangladesh; Srinath Raghavan on global diplomacy in the same crisis; Hassan Abbas on Pakistan and and the “Taliban Revival”; Haroon K. Ullah on Pakistan’s Islamic political parties; and Rudra Chaudhuri on US-India relations. Read Teresita Schaffer’s review in Survival.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Modi in America:Economics as Strategy

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Narendra Modi’s first official visit to Washington was set up before he had even been sworn in as prime minister, in a personal congratulatory phone call from President Obama. It was scheduled during the U.N. General Assembly, a significant and deliberate exception to the U.S. practice of avoiding Washington summits during General Assembly season. Especially after the 9 year freeze in Washington’s dealings with Modi, this was a good start, made better by the hope and determination both sides brought to the task.

Now, he and his American hosts need to energize their economic relationships on the way to setting some more ambitions strategic goals. Read the rest of our article in the Times of India, September 26, 2014.

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Modi’s India: A View from Washington

(This article is adapted from remarks by Teresita Schaffer to the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Oslo, September 20, 2014.)

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington gives us an opportunity to look at the reasons the U.S. considers its relations with India strategic, and to reflect on how India-U.S. ties fit into India’s – and Modi’s – vision of India’s role in the world. The two visions still fit together a bit awkwardly, but this is a critical opportunity to continue the quest for better ways to work together. Read more

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India, Pakistan and the United States

Modi greets Nawaz Sharif, https://www.flickr.com/photos/narendramodiofficial/14301631702/in/photolist-nww5h7-nMMAQW

By inviting the leaders of the other South Asian countries to attend his inauguration, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a message of continuity and change. The continuity lies in India’s strategic commitment to maintaining primacy in the region. Every government of independent India has shared this determination; so did India’s imperial rulers. The change is primarily one of tone, but tone has a way of becoming substance. It adds up to a moment of opportunity for India, which the United States can encourage.

Read the rest of Teresita Schaffer’s essay, released by Brookings Institution as part of a collection on the challenges facing India’s Prime Minister Modi as he heads for the United States.

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Starting Strong: Modi’s First Month

Modi swearing-in, https://www.flickr.com/photos/presidentrajapaksa/14278130922/

June 19, 2014: The first thirty days after Narendra Modi’s swearing-in as Indian prime minister set a breathtaking pace. The new government – and Modi personally –dominated the news and the action agenda. The strong centralization and detailed emphasis on economic revitalization were expected; the burst of high profile foreign policy initiatives was not. A month is a short time for drawing sweeping conclusions, but so far, Modi has been remarkably successful in creating excitement about his initiatives, and an air of inevitability about his determination to follow through. His challenge will be to maintain focus and discipline in his exuberant party, and to deal with soaring expectations.

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India: Huge Election Shakeup

Photo from Al Jazeera English, http://www.flickr.com/photos/aljazeeraenglish/3479447773/sizes/m/in/photolist

May 16, 2014:  The “Modi wave” in the just-completed Indian elections was bigger than almost all the projections. Based on final results in almost all constituencies, Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will have 282 seats, enough to form a single-party government if it chooses. The National Democratic Alliance, the BJP and its pre-election allies, will control 336 seats. This result dwarfs any winning majority in the past thirty years. The U.S. is optimistic about the outlook. Now more than ever, India-U.S. relations need high level attention.

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Delhi Snapshot: Tale of Two Elections

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February 10, 2014:  Delhi is completely absorbed by two elections – December’s surprise win at the state level by the upstart Aam Aadmi Party, and the national polls due in April. Congress is down; the BJP is up; the Aam Aadmi (“Common Man”) Party is a potential national wild card. Most observers expect a BJP-led coalition headed by Narendra Modi to form the next government, but some forecasts anticipate a coalition of regional parties, probably with Congress support but not participation. What this means for policy is not altogether clear. A Modi government would surely emphasize economic growth and an assertive foreign policy, but the specifics would depend in part on the scale of their victory. A “third force” coalition would in all likelihood be quite inward-looking.

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India: Modi’s International Profile

Photo from Al Jazeera English, http://www.flickr.com/photos/aljazeeraenglish/3479447773/sizes/m/in/photolist

December 9, 2013: In the tremendous buzz that has attended Narendra Modi’s emergence as the BJP’s candidate for prime minister in India’s 2014 elections, foreign policy has been almost entirely absent. Modi’s rare foreign policy statements suggest that his approach will center on economics, India’s cultural heritage, and a tough regional policy. It’s too early to tell what this is likely to mean in practice.

For the United States, a Modi victory would bring pluses and minuses in terms of his policies. But regardless of the outcome of the national election, the U.S. cannot afford to continue restricting its contacts with a politician of Modi’s importance to a relatively low level.

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