New Delhi, 20 July-2014, IANS: World Bank group President Jim Yong Kim will be on…
Washington DC(PTI): Indo-US relations were back on track in 2014 after overcoming major hiccups and bilateral ties are set for a big boost with President Barack Obama slated to make a historic second visit to India next month.
As the year 2014 comes to an end, the strains in India-US relationship have almost disappeared.
Exactly a year ago, the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York had threatened to derail the ties along with the anti-India campaign launched by the influential US corporate sector.
The relationship –- for which successive governments in the two countries had worked hard for over a decade –- had come to a standstill in the first half of the year.
In fact, months leading to the May general elections also played a part as the Obama Administration thought it was better to wait and deal with the new leadership.
The outgoing government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was reluctant in taking any decision on even important issues related to bilateral ties.
The first five months of the year could be characterised as stalemate in bilateral ties but collaboration moved at a fast pace ever since Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister on May 26.
Even before the swearing-in took place, Obama telephoned Modi to congratulate him on unprecedented electoral victory.
While the White House statement of this maiden tele-conversation did not say much, the subsequent events reflected that it set the tone and pace for the India-US relationship.
In the first 100 days of the new Indian government, Obama sent three of his top Cabinet Ministers –- John Kerry (Secretary of State), Chuck Hagel (Defense Secretary) and Penny Pritzker (Commerce Secretary) –- to India.
The annual India-US Strategic Dialogue was held in New Delhi instead of Washington as a goodwill gesture for the new government.
The mood about India in Washington suddenly changed with the new government.
Meetings with Modi by top officials of the Obama Administration reflected that the Prime Minister was focused on India’s development and taking Indo-US ties to a new level as he considers it as a win-win for both the countries.
Gauging that the Prime Minister was personally leading efforts to normalise Indo-US ties, Obama invited Modi to the White House immediately after the UN General Assembly session in New York.
The maiden meeting between the two leaders at the White House on September 30 helped establish a personal relationship between Obama and Modi –- the two most popular political leaders on the social media.
Welcoming Modi at the White House, Obama greeted him in Gujarati –- Kem Chho –- with help from his Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal, who is of Gujarati-origin.
The next day, in a rare gesture, Obama changed his schedule to drive down with Modi to the memorial of Matrin Luther King. The two drove to the memorial in the Beast –- the official limousine of the US President.
It was also for the first time that a US President and an Indian Prime Minister wrote a joint op-ed and pledged to move together –- “Chalein Saath Saath”.
The joint statement that was issued after the Modi-Obama meeting was reflective of the new mood in the bilateral ties.
The two sides agreed to take their counter-terrorism co-operation to a new level.
It opened up new vistas for the relationship particularly in the field of space, climate change and urban infrastructure.
As officials from the two countries were busy doing follow ups by scheduling more than a dozen meetings in November and December, Modi used his twitter handle to announce that he had invited Obama to be the Chief Guest at the annual Republic Day Parade on January 26.
The invitation was accepted by the White House. Obama is all set to visit India in January.
This would be for the first time that a US President would attending the Republic day parade as the Chief Guest.
Obama would also be the first serving US President to visit India twice.
While officials of the two countries are tight lipped about the trip, it is certain that it would be a memorable visit –- bringing India and the US closer than ever.
It is slated to be a relationship driven by people-to- people and business with the governments playing the role of a catalyst.
At the regional and global level, the two countries would be seen working together on a host of issues as the national interest of both India and US converge much more than ever in the past.