Talk of the town
A Washington DC think tank added a new term to the discourse on India-US relations a few months ago: oversold.
Have ties between the two countries been oversold? Can India deliver on expectations it might or might not have fueled?
Though not many bought this dismal view of the present state of relations, the term “oversold” took off.
Yashwant Sinha, former foreign and finance minister, was asked the oversold question at a Brookings event this week.
The term “oversold” is beginning to challenge the reign of “21st century’s defining relationship”, a phrase used by President Barack Obama in 2010 to describe India-US ties.
Visiting leaders and officials from India are invariably asked the the same questions that have gone into the making of the “oversold” narrative: no progress on multi-brand retail, financial sector reforms remain on paper, nuclear deal remains inconclusive and add to the list Iran and the retrospective tax.
The stock Indian reply has been: Have patience when dealing with India.
There is a plenty of that around, assure officials on both sides.
But they might be tested in the coming days as they fan out into the city talking about the next round of strategic dialogue.
US assistant secretary of state for South Asia, Robert Blake is scheduled to address at least two think-tank discussions tied to the dialogue. Indian ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao has been at one such event already and will be joined by her counterpart in New Delhi Nancy Powell at another later this week.
They are bound to face “oversold” questions, as did Sinha and they will all have an un-coordinated but similar: don’t worry, a defining relationship such as this can take a few knocks now and then.
It can, indeed. There is hardly any trace now of the bitterness felt over the loss of the MMRCA deal in 2011. This town knows when to move on.
There will be other things to talk about.