WASHINGTON: As President Barack Obama begins his second term on the ascendant, stronger against his detractors at home, there is an opportunity for India and the US to craft a bigger, better agenda and infuse new energy in the strategic partnership.
Even though Obama's foreign policy ambitions are decidedly modest, he doesn't want to preside over an America in definite retreat. Sure, he wants to trim the excesses, curtail ambition and bring his troops home, but he is not "naive about the dangers", a fact he emphasised in his inaugural address. The formulation contains the basis for a vigorous US engagement in Asia and India remains by far the most crucial anchor of that engagement.
US defence technology and joint R&D are now open to India. Leon Panetta, the outgoing secretary of defence, made a public commitment on a visit to New Delhi last summer to provide "the best defence technology possible to India". He initiated radical changes in the complex and interlocking web of US regulations to upgrade India's status to that of a non-Nato ally.
Also, the Indian-American community should be counted in to broaden the engagement. It voted solidly for Obama at 84% the overwhelming support can translate into more tangible gains. The "Indiaspora inaugural ball" was a smashing success with an array of US politicians attending.