By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 30 (IANS) As President Barack Obama travels to India next week, two leading economists have strongly backed India's case for a permanent seat of the UN Security Council and stronger trade relations.
Obama's "goal is to strengthen India-US cooperation, but standing between the recent heady past and a future full of promise is a highly problematic present," wrote C. Fred Bergsten and Arvind Subramanian, director and senior fellow, respectively, at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
"The dilemma for the two governments is how to keep the embers of the relationship glowing so that its future promise can be realised, even if political constraints will not permit aggressive actions now," they said in an article in the Washington Post.
One possibility would be to announce objectives that are ambitious enough to differentiate this relationship from others even if they cannot be met soon, Bergsten and Subramanian suggested in their piece on "What Obama can accomplish in India."
Two objectives in particular might be worthy of public embrace: a permanent seat for India on the UN Security Council and a US-India economic partnership agreement, possibly culminating in a "free-trade agreement of the democracies," the experts said.
"The case for Security Council membership is getting stronger. India's economy has more purchasing power than that of Britain, France or Russia," they said noting, "It is a nuclear power, as certified by Security Council members, and unlike China and Russia, it is a robust democracy."
The case for closer trade relations is also growing, they said. "From the US perspective, a series of free-trade agreements being negotiated between India and other major economies (Japan, Korea, the European Union, even Canada) will lead to discrimination against US businesses in the Indian market and greater access for suppliers from Europe and Asia."
"For India, the benefits would be assured access to US markets. Above all, Indian firms in the information-technology sector - the key to India's growth - would want to prevent an outbreak of protectionism that could threaten India's economic prospects."
"Bold actions to bring the United States and India closer together are perhaps impossible right now," the experts said. "But ambitious objectives, publicly professed and enthusiastically embraced, could be an acceptable substitute. They would be a major "deliverable" from the president's upcoming trip."