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.
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.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s White House visit September 27 was workmanlike and cordial, but the sense of barely meeting low expectations was hard to miss. The two governments put out a long list of accomplishments. They announced a few new items, notably new defense framework statement and a preliminary contract between Westinghouse and the Indian nuclear authorities regarding construction of a nuclear power plant in Gujarat. The discussions were wide-ranging. But those who were looking for a dynamic re-launch of the relationship were destined to be disappointed. In American baseball language, they were playing “small ball” – a game of small moves and modest, hopefully steady, rewards.
Read the full article, published in The Hindu October 7, 2013.
September 20, 2013: Two decades of rapid economic growth and surging international trade gave India the economic and strategic heft to go with its world-wide vision and voice. The current slump threatens to bring back the lowest economic numbers in twenty years. This sagging performance will burden both India’s domestic politics and its global strategic goals. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington will provide some short term relief, but all India’s contenders for political power need to be thinking about how to get India’s economy humming again.
July 5, 2013: The Indian press recently carried several stories reporting some forward movement toward sale of U.S. nuclear reactors to India. A closer look at the state of play suggests that we are indeed inching forward toward the nuclear trade made possible by the India-U.S. Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, but the finish line is still agonizingly far.