Manmohan Singh should breathe a little easier now. In the run up to the visit, I can imagine that his blood pressure would be higher than normal for the simple reason that Obama has been busy cosying up to the Chinese and he’s also been lavishing Pakistan with a lot of attention – both states who have a fraught history with India.
I say that he must be breathing a little easier because Obama rolled out the red carpet for his first state visit, and said all the right things on the big subjects that define the current relationship.
In a TV interview, I was asked about the state of the US – India relationship, and rather than focus on the icy nature of historical bilateral ties, I decided to emphasise that the US and India don’t really have the luxury of avoiding each other, any more. The truth is that in the interdependent global economy we live in, US & India need each other to prosper.
Take the attraction for the US:
- India’s middle class (approx 300m) is the size of the entire US population. This presents American companies with a larger market.
- India’s demographic profile is a massive advantage. With nearly 40% of its population under the age of 30, you can imagine the opportunites that are thrown up for American service lead companies.
For India, the US has always been a major market, so it came as no surprise when I interviewed the ten entrepreneurs for my book (http://www.indiaincthebook.com), that the US formed the centre-point for their global expansion. Take for example:
- There are more drugs from Indian pharma companies on US supermarket shelves than in India
- That Mahindra & Mahindra has stolen market share from native American firms selling tractors to their own farmers
- That, on average, Indian IT firms earn nearly two-thirds of their revenues in India
- That Bharat Forge supplies components for 2 our of every 3 trucks in the US
However, what I’ve found is that the bilateral relationship in increasingly defined by the US – India Nuclear Agreement that was signed in 2008. With the market being valued at $150 BILLION(!) and American firms like GE and Westinghouse in pole position, they seem ( surprise, surprise) eager for India to push on with its nuclear programme.
In its pursuit for energy independence, this visit gives Manmohan Singh and equally, Barack Obama something to smile about. It’s safe to say that Uncle Sam gets India.