What the Largest Democracy Means to the Oldest Democracy

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Nov. 6 – With Obama having been elected the 44th President of the United States what needs to be seen is whether the world's oldest democracy (US) and the world's largest democracy (India) can work together for a common good and global development?

Key issues that will impact India-US relations revolve around Pakistan, China, terrorism, nuclear issues and trade. Obama supporters expect him to sustain his relationship with India, while viewing his relationship with China as the most important US relationship in Asia.

“Your extraordinary journey to the White House will inspire people not only in your country but also around the world,” Dr. Singh told Obama, reported the Hindu.

Both Dr. Singh and President Pratibha Patil invited the President-elect to visit India as soon as possible. “We look forward to strengthening the partnership between India and the U.S. and continuing the close engagement that we have developed in recent years both in bilateral cooperation and in addressing global issues of common concern,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Vishnu Prakash.

Even as Obama relocates to the White House, Indian's are cautious but enthusiastic about Obama's stand on solving the India-Pakistan (Kashmir) dispute and his plans of curbing terrorism. A highly sensitive issue on both sides of the border both countries don't want the U.S. to interfer in a regional dispute. The Times of India quoted Obama in an interview with Arms Control Today,"I will continue support of the ongoing Indian-Pakistani efforts to resolve the Kashmir problem in order to address the political roots of the arms race between India and Pakistan."

Concerning trade issues, Obama's protectionist trade policies and strict labor and enviromental laws are being closely watched by the Indian governemnt, who seeks to expand the India-US trade basket. Fear is that he might clamp down on free trade.

On nuclear issues, the Indian government is weary that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty may be back on the table. The Times of India reported – There is a strong expectation that among the non-proliferation priorities of the Obama administration would be pushing through the CTBT, if he can get his own Congress to agree. That would be another pressure point for India, particularly after Manmohan Singh has gone on record to say that India would not sign the CTBT.