Obama and sales team hit the jackpot in India

Barack Obama flew into India yesterday for the start of what has been described as a trade and investment shopping trip and immediately announced the sealing of $10bn of deals to help the floundering US economy.

At the start of a four-nation tour of Asia, Mr Obama flew into Mumbai, site of a devastating 2008 attack by militants, and declared the relationship between India and the US would be one of the most important of the 21st Century. “We visit here to send a very clear message,” said the president, who is staying at the seafront Taj Mahal Palace hotel that was one of the locations attacked by Pakistani gunmen. “In our determination to give our people a future of security and prosperity, the United States and India stand united.” Talking later that evening to a meeting of business leaders, Mr Obama rattled through a series of deals that had been finalised ahead of his visit, deals worth millions of dollars to companies such as Boeing and GE. These 20 or so agreements will help support up to 50,000 jobs in the US, where unemployment still stands at more than 9 per cent .

Mr Obama, traveling with a party of dozens of US business leaders and warmly received by the Indian business community, immediately acknowledged the relationship between the two countries was changing. “The United States sees Asia, especially India, as the market of the future,” he said. “There still exists a caricature of India as a land of call centres and back-offices that cost American jobs. But these old stereotypes, these old concerns, ignore today’s realities.” That reality, of course, is that the US could once afford to ignore India, it no longer can. Previous American leaders such as Bill Clinton and George Bush may have been able to charm their hosts with warm talk of the shared interests and common values of the world’s largest democracy and the planet’s most powerful nation, though Mr Bush also brokered a vital nuclear deal.

But Mr Obama’s visit comes as America finds itself politically divided, its economy stumbling and the nation increasingly anxious about its waning hegemony. By contrast, India, where the economy is growing at eight per cent and which is poised to become the world’s third largest economy, is buoyantly confident of its soaring future. It is the sort of confidence that Mr Obama and the US could badly use. If the president, on his first foreign trip since the Democrats suffered badly during last week’s mid-term elections, came to India looking for an economic boost, then India wanted America’s recognition of its growing economic and geopolitical importance. For all its swagger, India can at times appears oddly insecure and in need of reassurance.

The US leaders visit appeared to do that on several fronts. Mr Obama said the US would support India’s membership of four global non-proliferation organisations, a move that will reassure Delhi - left out of these groups after its 1998 nuclear tests - that Washington is finally recognising its global ambitions. For now, however, the US has not backed India’s call for a permanent place on the UN Security Council, though Mr Obama did reveal export controls would be relaxed to make it easer for specialist Indian firms to do business with the US.

“India is looking for endorsement of its playing a larger role in world affairs,” Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, said ahead of Mr Obama’s visit. In a city where Bollywood deities receive almost as much adulation as the real Gods, a global celebrity as charming as Mr Obama was never going to have trouble winning over ordinary Indian people. Ahead of his visit, T-shirts bearing his image had been moving from the market stalls almost as quickly as workers had been scaring off monkeys and removing loose coconuts from Mani Bhavan, the house where Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi stayed while in the city and which Mr Obama visited yesterday. Later today he will fly to Delhi to address the parliament and hold formal talks with India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

Whether his three-day visit will ultimately be judged a success by everyone in India, remains to be seen. Right-wing commentators were yesterday quick to seize on the fact that the president failed to mention Pakistan when he spoke about the attacks launched by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants. At the same time, Mr Obama – just like David Cameron, when he visited India this summer – is unlikely to make any public mention of the disputed territory of Kashmir, an issue that continues to fuel burning resent within the subcontinent. If Kashmir is raised in talks between officials, it will be as part of questions about the US’s broader policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is something India feels desperately concerned about, just as it does about the US bilateral relationship with China.

Ahead of his visit to India, after which he will travel on to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, Mr Obama had been criticised over its cost, which one Indian news outlet pegged at $200m a day. He will have hoped that the deals agreed with India and the headlines they will earn back in the US will have made it worth it. India will be pleased by Mr Obama’s recognition that he could not afford to stay away.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?