It seems to be a tale of history repeating itself; Bollywood film star Shahrukh Khan was detained yet again at yet another airport in the U.S. Deemed as an unfortunate situation, Indian Foreign Minister, Mr. SM Krishna expressed disdain by saying that the ‘policy of detention and apology by the U.S. cannot continue’. He added, “Apologies from America have become mechanical.” This statement perhaps opens a can of ugly truths. While the U.S. customs and border protection authorities profusely apologized later, it still leaves several questions unanswered. In the past, Indian President, Dr. Abdul Kalam and former Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Meera Shankar were frisked at airports in the U.S., while protocol excludes former state dignitaries from such searches. It reveals a side of a lackadaisical or indifferent attitude towards adherence to standard protocol.
There lies the irony after all the brouhaha about social assimilation and respect for human dignity. This entire detention episode of Shahrukh Khan’s could have been avoided by the authorities at the click of a button if they had wanted to match the relevant information to his profile. It has set a feeling of uncertainty underneath the hypocritical garb of strengthening ties and the gamut. Despite all the apologies and the regret from the American end, it is about time to live up and act instead of harping on mere hackneyed rhetoric. The world needs something beyond this to thrive on to avoid ire, confusion, and chaos.
Amidst the U.S. Commerce Secretary, John Bryson’s visit to India, there looms a growing pandemonium in the Indian Government’s thought and action. It could also result in severe and dire consequences with an impact on the U.S.-India economic partnership. The U.S has been vociferous to condemn that the Indian import duties were rather high. John Bryson addressed the need to relieve the steep duties on products such as medical equipment, capital goods, and fruits. At an FICCI (Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry) event, he suggested, “It would be a miss, if I would not mention about the barriers which still exist in building our economic relationship. For example, there are many tariffs on American products which are still too high.” He also talked about the steep import duties on IT, electronics, and solar energy. He gave the audience a thought to ponder over.
However Anand Sharma, Union Commerce and Industry Minister raised his concern about the growing number of visa rejections on Indians by the U.S. and added that the U.S. was very aware of the Indian import duties and restrictions.
In this muddle, when the American economy is on its way to recovery, the Indian Government needs to ascertain a middle path. Business is two-sided and so is strategic economic partnership. It is not an act of coercion from anywhere either. It is about implementing a fresh set of rules and easing restrictions on duties so that mutual economic interests are addressed. That is one side of the coin.
Recently ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) urged the Indian Government to raise the import duties of steel products so that local manufactures of such products could battle the imports from China and other countries. It reveals the motive behind the high-rise import duties; however, the Indian government needs to prepare the ground for solutions. Economic relations could be at stake.
There is a taste of threat in the air for some and may not be for the rest. President Obama’s opposition to outsourcing has raked enough controversy and a certain note of uncertainty seems to lurk about. He has voiced it time and again that his policy aimed at making the lives of middle-class Americans more secure; thereby ensuring that jobs were not sent overseas. His views have given rise to several perceptions among Indian-Americans.
First and foremost, a lot of individuals believe that due to President Obama’s opposition to outsourcing, several IT professionals lost their jobs in 2009. He had promised at almost eradicating the unemployment problem in the U.S., thereby providing a tax rebate to all those American firms who sought for labor and employment within the country. That was a time when people were grappling with the loss of jobs and the future seemed bleak and Obama felt the need to reinstate the U.S. as the financial superpower. However the intent of the government to recover $ 700 billion went kaput and now the end game with the elections draws close. The entire notion of this opposition to outsourcing appears ‘discriminatory’ to some.
However there are several others who think otherwise. Wipro has reiterated its presence in the U.S. having partnered and collaborated with other businesses. It holds a different view of the outsourcing controversy. Infosys believes in the same. Some have of course dismissed the outsourcing chaos as something that is mere ‘political rhetoric’ and political hogwash. Well, one has reasons to believe so and this is it. While the unemployment rate in the U.S. is at a high, the political leaders also need to ponder about the repercussions in terms of profit that American conglomerates would face if they had no outlet to outsourcing. It is about time for them to think and create and draft ideas that work towards the better of all.
India’s stance seems to be that of being sandwiched between a rock and a hard place. While ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry) states that Iran continues to be a vital business ally as India’s demand for commercial energy including hydrocarbon is increasing. Further the Iran-India trade is expected to hit $30 billion by 2015. Tracing the events heating up over the last couple of months: Iran, Israel, and the U.S., India’s diplomatic position seems be precarious like that of a cat treading on a hot tin roof. Previously, India’s decision to go ahead and continue importing oil from Iran caused a whir in Washington. Nicholas Burns – former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs wrote in ‘The Diplomat’ stating, “This is bitterly disappointing news for those of us who have championed a close relationship with India. And, it represents a real setback in the attempt by the last three American Presidents to establish a close and strategic partnership with successive Indian governments.” He added, “The Indian government’s ill-advised statement last week that it will continue to purchase oil from Iran is a major setback for the U.S. attempt to isolate the Iranian government over the nuclear issue.” He spoke about India’s reliance on Iran for 12% of the oil imports.
India could be viewed as being on its way to alienation and quagmire with this latest decision with Iran; it’s literally being coerced into choosing between Iran and the U.S. Its diplomatic stance on the current scenario seems to be confusing to most minds. Iran seems recalcitrant and resilient about its intent to go nuclear and the world vehemently feels otherwise. Keeping in mind, what India shares with the U.S. at this juncture, a ‘strategic’ partnership, India cannot let go off its dependence on the import while the U.S. has been anti-Iran due to its theocratic administration.
India’s diplomacy has always been on the mild and sensitized diplomatic route based on progress and peace. It is worth noting that despite its ties with Israel on tourism, agriculture, and technology, it has still been vocal about the Palestinian cause and need for sovereignty. After the thawing of the Cold War phase, India diplomatic relations with the U.S. turned towards progress and headed to the 123 Agreement signing of the US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal in 2005. As a result, India progresses as a paradigm nation of non-ritzy diplomacy keeping its focus on maintaining a common ground for one and all.