By Niranjan Rai – The US based author is of the view that there was nothing extraordinary about Obama visit to India and that Indian media overplayed it.
The point of this article is not to analyze President Obama’s recent visit to India but to try to comprehend the extraordinary – and sky high – swooning exhibited by Indian media. Now when media heaps and sings mountains of praise, one is naturally tempted to ask: why the Indian media went so ecstatic in describing the visit and exactly what important ground was broken by the visit?
After careful and impassioned analysis of the visuals and the media reports, one cannot help but feel that the visit was nothing but all media hype. Indian media went overboard in describing the visit.
For Mr. Modi, who was denied visa and was persona-non-grata due to his alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots, the visit seems to have offered him a chance to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the same western world and cast himself as a pragmatic leader. And, aided by the media, he sure seems to have run with it. The whole thing looked like a tightly scripted show with media faithfully reporting the scenes as choreographed by the Modi govt. Modi was invited by President Obama to Whitehouse in September last year during his visit to United Nations General Assembly and Mr. Modi then invited Obama as Chief Guest for the Republic Day Celebrations. And, that is all. There is nothing more to it than a simple reciprocal invitation which Obama accepted.
But the Indian Media – never missing a chance to burnish their pro-western credentials and sing loudly about the importance of Indo-US relations to heavens -went completely sycophantic and spouted inventive labels after labels: “historic”, “unprecedented”, “landmark visit” etc.
If that is the case, then it is pertinent to ask the question: what exactly was groundbreaking about this visit? The problems that were there earlier are still there. USA is clamoring for more clarity in the matter of intellectual property rights. It is still asking for more liberalized economic reforms which India is resisting because they might hurt local businesses adversely. It is also trying to kick out Russians from Indian arms market without offering anything substantial of the same magnitude that the Russians have contributed. Think about Brahmos, Sukhois, MiGs etc. which are jointly developed and manufactured in India under license. USA cannot even come close to offering or developing jointly missile systems or advance fighter aircrafts with India. Russia’s contribution to Indian space program is also huge. The list goes on and on. Would USA contribute at the same level?Highly unlikely. In terms of clean energy and carbon pollution, India and USA are still miles apart. India does not want to be clubbed with China and sign the kind of deal that Chinese have signed with USA.
In terms of nuclear energy, it was announced with great fanfare that the two key problems – one, tracking of the material and the second one of liability – have been solved. Well, it is one matter for President Obama to waive these requirements and it is another matter for the commercial suppliers to feel comfortable as far as the nuclear liability issue is concerned. After all, it is a commercial transaction and in the end, the lawyers of the commercial suppliers would have to be comfortable with the insurance liability pool that might be set up. As long as nothing concrete materializes, it is premature to celebrate the final breakthrough of the deal.
All in all, it seems like nothing extraordinary but a regular visit by a head of a state. But the Indian media simply blew up the hype of visit out of proportions.