Wednesday, November 07, 2012

US Votes Obama: Focus now on Nirupama Rao in advancing Indo-US ties

Ambassador Nirupama Rao with President Obama
IT WAS November 2010. US President Barack Obama landed in Delhi airport on a Sunday afternoon after spending couple of days in Mumbai. Two senior women diplomats in pink saris were among very few people alongside Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and his wife waiting to welcome the arguably the most powerful man in earth and his better half Michelle Obama. On Tuesday US time, President Barack Obama…
swept the presidential poll to get yet another four-year-term by defeating the Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
One of those two lady diplomats wearing pink saris was then foreign secretary Nirupama Rao who is now India’s ambassador to US. In the backdrop of the turbulent economic scenario across the world, Obama’s second inning is going to a roller coaster ride. To protect American interests and its sliding economy, Obama may take strong policy measures that could hurt Indian business interests including out-sourcing. And it’s here, Rao’s team in Washington DC will have to play a key role in protecting Indian interests.
The other woman diplomat in pink sari was Rao’s batch-mate Meera Shankar, who was then India’s ambassador to US. Rao and Shankar, both 1973 batch IFS officers, were then working overtime to Obama’s India visit a mega success. Both acted as trouble-shooters and aired significant comments in the run-up to the visit. As BoI had earlier reported, Ambassador Shankar had talked about how India needs to watch the anti-outsourcing sentiment in “new political scenario” in the US just a few days before Obama reached Mumbai. Then foreign secretary Rao, now ambassador, stressed how the victory of Republicans would not impact the India-US relationship, which enjoys “bipartisan support” in that country. After Obama’s victory now, however, that question does not arise.
In Delhi airport, US president had patted Ambassador Shankar, who in turn exchanged a few words with Obama. The President, who did not know many Indian ministers and officials welcoming him, was seen visibly pleased to spot a known face, Ambassador Shankar.

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