Very soon, you might have Prakash Karat and fellow comrades crooning, ‘I told you so’, as the Indian media slams Barack Obama and Uncle Sam for once again ‘tilting against’ India. You can already hear murmurs of protest as protectionism gathers momentum in America and young Indians find their dream jobs disappearing in the United States. You must have read some pundits suggest how India must adopt tit for tat measures by denying contracts to companies like Boeing. By now, many defense pundits, too, have expressed shock at Uncle Sam denying some key technologies to the Indian armed forces. Then there are those hawks who are now convinced that America is absolutely not interested in genuinely helping India when it comes to battling cross border terrorism. And rest assured, the Obama administration will take many decisions and make many choices that will anger, dismay and even outrage urban Indians who haven’t stopped fantasizing about the emerging strategic partnership between India and America. For this breed of Indians, Uncle Sam would follow up the nuclear deal by doing everything that is anti-Pakistan and anti-China if they have a conflict of interest with India. Sadly such delusions always get shattered. They will inevitably get shattered by end of this year. So after the Indo-US euphoria of the last few years, get prepared for a phase of disappointment and rage at the perfidy of Uncle Sam. And don’t be surprised if Obama becomes one of the most criticized personalities in Indian media (in any case, even his honeymoon with the American media is on the verge of collapsing).
The brutal fact is: both the media and the middle class Indians will be wrong when they rail at Obama and his policies. The reason behind that is another brutal fact: India stills behaves childishly and naively when it comes to the pursuit of national interests, foreign policy and geo-poltics. No wonder, the discourse on foreign policy in India oscillates between triumphant and childish optimism and naïve pessimism. When India signed the nuclear deal, optimism reached a feverish pitch; when a few Indians don’t get American jobs, the pessimism plunges into depths of despair. That is because most Indians confuse between cold blooded pursuit of national interests and the feel good buzz around emotional bonding. There will always be some occasions when America and India’s national interests do not converge when it comes to dealing with Pakistan. That does not make America anti-Indian. There will always be some occasions when the head will rule over the heart and Uncle Sam will choose China over India (China happens to literally propping up the US economy at the moment by sending surplus dollars to America). That doesn’t make America anti-Indian. There will always be some occasions when political compulsions in America will hurt India Inc. Again, that doesn’t make America anti-Indian.
But beyond these simple facts, there is another brutal fact that would hurt many Indians. We tend to think that India is more important than it actually is. Sample this fact: Obama's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has visited Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing soon after taking over. New Delhi was never on the agenda. And who visited India? It was Richard Holbrooke who is officially supposed to look after Afghanistan and Pakistan. Touché.