Good Day, India, Supersize Us

Shankaracharya Temple, Srinagar, India (All India Radio QSL, 1987)

Shankaracharya Temple, Srinagar, India (All India Radio QSL, 1987)

During his India trip, US President Barack Obama will meet top US business leaders, including India-born Pepsico chairperson Indra Nooyi, to “discuss the opportunities and challenges of doing business in India,” the SME Times, a commercial paper from India, quotes the White House, and adds that

India, Asia’s third-biggest economy, offers a rapidly growing market for US companies. Trade between the US and India more than doubled to $37 billion in 2009 compared with 2003, according to US Commerce Department data. In the first eight months of 2010, total trade topped $32 billion, Commerce figures show.

GE Hitachi, a venture between GE and Hitachi Ltd, and Westinghouse Electric Co are among the companies competing for contracts to build nuclear power plants in India, the SME Times reports. After a deal between then US president George W. Bush and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2005/2006, and India’s signing of a Convention of Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage in October, US-invested companies are now among those who compete to alleviate India’s chronic power shortages.

The deal had been controversial. It was frequently pointed out that the US administration hadn’t given much attention to India’s nuclear weapons program, while at the same time, Iran’s nuclear program, labeled by Tehran as merely civilian, was strongly opposed by Washington.

Then again, India “had the bomb” in its hands, anyway – and it was seen as a potentially close ally in South Asia. Obama continues to build on the relationship established by his predecessor – “Asia is critical to our foreign policy strategy,” the National Journal quotes Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to Obama. “It’s the fastest growing market in the world. It’s fundamental to our export initiative. And India is a cornerstone of our broader Asia approach.”

But if the Indian union government sees the nuclear deal of four years ago as a great gift (which it apparently does), not every American president can arrive with as many tokens as president Bush jr. Instead, Obama would like to cash in on some of the nuclear voucher – and in many other fields of business.

And while India will probably appreciate the choice of Obama’s arrival airport – Mumbai isn’t only a business hub, but was also the site of a terror attack in November 2008 -, Obama didn’t “name Pakistan” this morning.

If Obama’s hosts may remain somewhat sniffy, an article by the Vivekananda Foundation may offer some explanations for that.

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Related
Creative Destruction or Development, March 15, 2010
Export Initiative, White House, March 11, 2010

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