Prime Minister Narendra Modi's US visit will provide a golden opportunity to both countries to repair the faltering bilateral ties though circumstances are not favourable, according to top American think-tanks.
Modi is scheduled to arrive in New York on September 26 to attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly . He will meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 29 and September 30.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi's forthcoming visit to Washington will provide India and the US with a golden opportunity to repair their faltering partnership. The stakes are high, even if the circumstances today are not particularly propitious," Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said on Tuesday in an article ahead of Modi's visit.
Tellis said if Modi's private remarks to visiting American officials recently are any indication, he seeks to end the current level of stagnation in bilateral ties.
"But his approach, which seemingly centres on soliciting huge international investments for important, high-profile projects at home, offers poor prospects for any deep US involvement that would quickly resuscitate joint cooperation between the two countries," he said.
Expectations are very high from the Modi-Obama meeting , the first between the two leaders.
"Modi has said all things are possible between India and America, even a strategic alliance. But the two countries still have much distance to travel to create one," said Daniel Twining, a senior fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
"An agenda for the Obama-Modi summit should encompass five critical areas for cooperation: defence, energy, trade and investment, the future of Afghanistan and the crisis in the Middle East," he added.
Writing in an article for the Wall Street Journal, he said: "The two leaders should embrace an agenda that strengthens their role as democratic and economic counterweights to growing global disorder."
"Washington and New Delhi should develop a joint plan to expand training of Afghan security forces and enhance India's stabilising economic and diplomatic role," he added.
Twining applauded Modi for boosting India's stock market up by 30 per cent, and surging growth to nearly six per cent.
Another think tank, Richard M Rossow writing for the Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) noted that Modi's main agenda is creating a strong base for infrastructure and manufacturing industry.
"As evidenced by his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat, as well as statements made since winning the national election, the Modi government will focus on building infrastructure to create a stronger manufacturing base," he said.
Tellis noted that the challenges cannot be resolved overnight or through a single visit by a prime minister who has had other reasons to nurse personal grievances against the United States, apparently referring to the denial of American visa following the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Yet, dismaying his many hard-line followers, Modi has reached out to Washington, warmly receiving a series of American dignitaries since assuming office in May, he said.
"The US vice president and secretary of state is expected to host an intense set of bilateral discussions to review the entire gamut of the relationship," he said.
It will therefore be no surprise if Modi's visit to Washington records further progress on, among other issues, cyber security and homeland security, defence, education, public health and human capital growth, energy and the environment, infrastructure and urban development, and civilian space and nuclear cooperation, he said.
Other ambitious initiatives including US decisions to partner with New Delhi on developing India's next-generation aircraft carrier, to sell India unconventional oil and gas, or to permit US companies to use Indian space launch services can be expected out of the meetings, he added.
The United States may also accelerate its efforts to complete India's integration into the multilateral nonproliferation regimes or decide to deepen meaningful cyber-defense cooperation with India, he added.
"Similarly, India could bring to the table important decisions to close on key projects subsumed by the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative or new solutions for overcoming the impasse over the nuclear liability law," Tellis said.
"India could show a renewed willingness to cooperate on salvaging the Doha round of global trade talks or advancing the common quest for mitigating climate change, or it could recommit to energetic liberalisation at home in ways that open the door for greater American private participation in India's economic growth," he wrote.
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