Manmohan, dude, could you at least get your safari suit dry cleaned?
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Washington on Sunday afternoon, for a five day "state" visit. Now, no one really knows what a state visit means, but everyone agrees it's sort of important, like the American Idol season finale or Tyra Banks opinion on America's Next Top Model.
Let's see what the demi-gods of our times, the conscious keepers of our nation, those wonderful people who tell you what you need to think, journalists are saying:
DNA wants our jumpy foreign office to stop being so paranoid:
Serious strains in Sino-US relations are showing up barely days after US president Barack Obama concluded a conciliatory visit to China, and ahead of Singh's visit to the US. These belie the paranoid perception from New Delhi that an emerging Washington-Beijing entente is selling India's interests short. In particular, a paragraph in the Sino-US joint statement at the conclusion of Obama's visit, which commits the two countries to promoting peace in South Asia, has given rise to much Indian angst over China being given a "policing role" over Indo-Pakistan relations.
Some analysts caution against the risk of investing too much authority to sentiments reflected in joint statements. "A joint statement is less binding than, say, a joint declaration," points out Pang Zhongying, professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. "If the two sides were sure they wanted to work together, they would have issued a declaration."
Dude, didja forget that our whole foreign policy is based on paranoia? Most of the people in our ministry of external affairs are only seen in public when we have to denounce a statement made by some crazy fuck in Pakistan or some godforsaken "newspaper" in China. But, hey, if it is already broken, why even try to fix it?
Our ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, thinks that India wants Indo-US ties to be more than just a B2B relationship:
. . . defence relations have seen steady progress as an important aspect of the strategic partnership. Our Defence Policy Group (DPG) and its sub-groups, which meet annually, have acquired substance and depth in their deliberations. There has been an increase in the interaction between our armed forces. All our three services now conduct annual exercises with their US counterparts. At the same time, we are also looking at the US as one of the possible suppliers of weapon systems as we continue to modernize our armed forces. We would like the relationship not just to be limited to a buyer-seller relationship but also to move into areas of joint development and transfer of technology. Our armed forces are also cooperating in areas such as maritime security, which is vital to economic and national interests of both our countries.
Yay. Both our armed forces are ready to take on China the minute the US repays back all the money it owes to home of the dragon.
The US and India will also be signing a pact to cooperate on 'counter-terrorism':
US and India will sign a pact on intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism during the Prime Minister's visit, one of nearly a dozen agreements to be inked during the visit. Details of the pact are not being disclosed yet, but such was the importance of the agreement that CIA Director Leon Panetta flew down to New Delhi last week to discuss details with his Indian counterparts before the fine print could be drawn up. The agreement could involve exchanging and stationing more intelligence personnel in the two countries, including mobile units, to facilitate better interaction.
Initiative for the intelligence upgrade, including ''technical means,'' has come from the US side after Washington finally realized the fallacy of distinguishing Pakistani terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba from al-Qaida, a grasp that has been brought home by the latest episode involving the terror suspect duo of Tawassur Rana and Daood Gilani aka David Headley.
Does this mean our guys get to ask Rana why he was metaphorically sodomizing Rahul Bhatt?
Now, there are some people who borrow a page from the Obama campaign and lower expectations:
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his team land at the Andrews Air Force Base in nearby Maryland on Sunday afternoon (early Monday in India) for the first state visited hosted by the Obama administration, they will find a capital region that is bathed in sunshine, although there is a nip in the air that presages winter, and trees are devoid of foliage, autumn having been swept out.
However, circumspection is expected to be the order of the day, even though if you go by the fact that this is Singh’s second state visit and the third hosted for India in less than a decade (more than any other country), you’d think the two countries are more than just natural allies or strategic partners . While there is an element of security in the bilateral relationship, India and the US are not allies in the conventional sense and are not likely to be so any time soon, says Walter Anderson, a veteran South Asia hand. His advice: "India will have to formulate its own strategy vis-a-vis its neighbourhood devoid of any unrealistic expectations from Washington, despite the perceived closeness.’’
For a minute there, I thought I was in an Indian novel, with the talk of all the sunshine and the foliage. Before this, I used to think I was the world's worst metaphor writer. Clearly, someone has me beat.
Now, if for a minute, have you ever wondered how this visit would have been reported in the Soviet Union fifty years ago? Well, if you have, this is your lucky day, because our second most favourite insufferable old curmudgeon, Prakash Karat, answers your question:
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday warned the United Progressive Alliance government against allying with the U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan and promised to launch joint struggles with its counterparts in the region against increasing American intervention in South Asia.
“We have to continue our struggle against capitalism, put an end to it and establish socialism as the real alternative. At the same time, we also oppose the India-U.S. strategic ties — economic and military,” Mr. Karat said at a public rally at the end of the 11th International Meet of Communist and Workers Parties here.
Where do I even begin? Oh, Prakash. In case you had been asleep for the past twenty years, in the whole decades long football match between socialism and capitalism, the scoreboard stands as, Capitalism - 1, Socialism - 0. Even though capitalism is now crony capitalism, it's evil twin, your system still sucked. Also, fyi, you lost the election. So, please have a nice, warm cup of green tea from China.
Now lets see what the thought leaders on the other side of the pond are thinking. One wonders whether they would be as excited about the visit as much as our own press is.
Since not much of the American press is covering this right now, let's turn our attention to the Times UK, for how the Obama administration is preparing for the Indian PM's visit:
The first dinner party in a new house is a test for every hostess and an awkward eater is the last thing she needs. In Michelle Obama’s case, not only is her first guest of honour an abstemious vegetarian, but the whole world will be watching.
On Tuesday the Obamas host their first state banquet since taking office in January. After the staid years of President George W Bush, who liked to be in bed by 9pm, Washington is desperate for some glamour.
“Official Washington is hungry for this — it’s an important moment,” said Robert Watson, author of American First Ladies and associate professor of American studies at Lynn University, Florida. “It’s a test for Michelle. Every detail will be looked at, from the menu to the guest list, to who’s sitting next to whom. One faux pas and the critics will pounce.”
As the youngest White House family since the Kennedys, the Obamas draw inevitable comparisons. Everyone will be watching to see how Michelle ranks against Jackie.
OMG, did someone remember to send an e-vite to Manmohan?
However, Politico has WON THE DAY, by it's superb coverage of the state visit.
Looks like former President Clinton won't be attending:
Former President Bill Clinton did snag an invite to the White House state dinner on Tuesday, but he won’t be there with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
It’s not a case of “Been there, done that” for Clinton, though he hosted 30 state dinners of his own. Clinton just has other plans. “He’ll be at previously scheduled events in New York,” Matt McKenna, Clinton’s spokesman, told POLITICO.
Well, just get invite a young woman who is on the healthier side. I am sure that Mr Clinton's schedule would 'suddenly' open up.
Now, since Bill isn't going to be there, Mr Hollywood himself, Ari Emanuel, is going to make up for his absence:
Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel (and brother to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) is expected to be at the White House Tuesday evening for the Obamas' first state dinner.
Ari Emanuel won't be the only one from Tinseltown at 1600 Pennsylvania on Tuesday. POLITICO confirmed late last week that Hollywood director M. Night Shyamalan will also attend the dinner.
Although, to be fair, Shyamlan's appearance at the dinner will likely be a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo. And, now that he's there, look for something really paranoid and boring to happen, simultaneously.
There were originally supposed to be 400 guests at the banquet. However, since EVERYONE in the WHOLE WORLD basically wants to be there, the banquet will now consist of 600 guests. The only criteria is that you should have some kind of remote connection to India. Cause, for this banquet, brown seems to be the new black.
Photo Credit: The Magalorean