Tentative start

Tentative start

 The Indo-US relations have not been in best of shape as the Narendra Modi government assumed office just two months ago. The bilateral relationship had entered a phase of stagnation not long after President Barack Obama hailed it as one of the “defining partnerships” of the 21st century, in 2010.

Indeed, it hit a low in the wake of an angry diplomatic row over the arrest and strip-search of an Indian diplomat in New York last December. The election of a new government in New Delhi should have provided an ideal opportunity to impart fresh momentum to the bilateral relationship, particularly since Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is perceived to be more pro-US than the Congress party, which headed the previous UPA government.

The just-concluded visit of US secretary of state John Kerry and commerce secretary Penny Prizker to New Delhi, which marked the first high level political contact of the Obama administration with the Modi government, provided an opportunity to what is being described as an opportunity to reboot the ties.

At the end of their two-day interactions with the new Indian leadership, there are no immediate signals coming either from the US side or from the Indian side to suggest a restart has happened. For one, there are bridges to be built on the political front, and on substantive aspects of the ties, there are significant issues of contention between the two sides.

On the political side, it appeared that Kerry had come to explain that the nine-year-old issue of the denial a US visa to Modi is a thing of the past. He went to the extent of stating that the visa denial was a decision that was taken by the previous Bush dispensation. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj conveyed her government’s displeasure over reports that Washington had authorised spying on the BJP.

Yet, on a positive side, it is fairly clear that the Modi government will not allow these political issues to linger and cast a shadow on the bilateral relationship. The fact that Modi will visit Washington next month for a summit meeting with Obama makes it evident.

The visit in itself will, however, not guarantee positive momentum to the ties. India under Modi seeks more trade, investment and technology collaboration. When Modi visits the US, he will have to contend with the