Indo-U.S relations: Initially, the term “Estranged Democracies” was used for defining India and USA relations. But, in the present scenario, the co-operation between the two democracies is multi-sectoral covering defence, security, trade, investment, science and technology, Space technology, environment, agriculture and health.
Evolution of Indo-U.S. Relations
The present relationship is culminated by the past activities, starting from the first visit of PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to the U.S. in 1949, the trip preceded India’s neutrality in the developing Cold War. After a decade, in 1959, U.S.A. President Dwight Eisenhower visited India. The U.S.A. also extended its support to India during the Indo-China conflict of 1962. Relations between the two were strained during the 1971 war of India and Pakistan as U.S. sides with Pakistan and discontentment developed further due to the first nuclear test done by India in 1974. Refusal of India to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1978 widened the gap further as Washington ended all the nuclear assistance to India.
Indo-U.S relations: Most Important SSB Lecturette Topic
The strained relations were mended by Indira Gandhi during her U.S. visit in 1982 and almost after a decade, India expanded its economic relations with the U.S. in 1991 due to major economic reforms introduced by the Indian Government. The U.S. lifted the economic sanctions in 2001 which were imposed on India during the nuclear test of 1998. In 2008, Nuclear Energy Regulatory allows Indian Nuclear Trade. India has been recognized as a major defence partner by Former President Barack Obama in 2016.
The bilateral relationship between the two is also nurtured by the vibrant people to people interaction along with the support provided by the political spectrum.
According to PM Narendra Modi, “We have left the hesitations of the past, the conditions in the 21st century forced us to walk together”. Moreover, the ex-President of the US, Barack Obama was also of the opinion that India and the United States would form “one of the defining partnerships” of the 21st century.
Trump’s South Asia Policy
Trump’s administration seems more serious in addressing India’s concerns. In recent times, South Asia Policy of Trump explains the position of the administration on the war which is going on in Afghanistan; along with the four pillars i.e. Protect the homeland, Protect prosperity, Peace through Strength and Advanced American Influence; along with the shift from time-bound to one based on conditions.
Historically, few incidents where US-supported India can be traced including, India-China war of 1962 when US President John F. Kennedy extended his support by providing arms and assistance to India, also recognised Mc Mahon line. Moreover, in 1963, US Agronomist Norman Borlaug in collaboration with Indian Scientist Dr M S Swaminathan helped India to be self-sufficient due to the Green Revolution.
Why India is Important to the U.S.
Asia-Pacific region has become the centre of gravity after the end of the Cold War and Globalisation came into existence. Due to the two major economies i.e. India and China, around 50% of the trade is alone concentrated in the region. Thus, India has become an important factor for protecting the interests of the USA in terms of trading. Thus, Respect-Resilience-Trust-Acceptance-Confidence and Constancy form the basis of India- US relationship.
For countering Beijing’s potential challenge to USA hegemony especially in the Indo-Pacific region.
India’s huge consumer market provides a huge potential for exports by the USA.
India is the 2nd largest Arms importer and the USA also looks for enhancing their share of export to India.
Indian stance on Counterterrorism also aligns with the USA to a larger extent.
India’s commitment towards a rule-based international order provides the USA with an opportunity for a strong and reliable regional partner.
Prof. Amitabh Mattoo is of the opinion that Anti-Americanism was once the reflexive approach of South bloc. Now, it has become a thing of the past. India is almost in the state of de facto alliance with the USA.
Why the U.S. is crucial for India
The current dynamics depicts an upward movement in all the sectors. Moreover, security in the Indo-Pacific, especially, Maritime security has become the strategic area of Indo-US partnership. In a wider canvas, there are two domains including Indo-Pacific and Eurasian landmass/continental domain focussing on the stability in Afghanistan.
The USA plays a critical role in maintaining regional stability in Asia through its strong military and diplomatic influence.
Rising assertiveness of China in indo-pacific as well as in the South Asia region makes New Delhi align with Washington as both views the region in the same prism.
India’s aspiration to become a permanent member of UNSC.
The USA will continue to be crucial for India’s economic success. the united states is among top sources for FDI in India.
The USA has a long-term commitment to maintain security & freedom of navigation on the high seas, which is critical to India as a net energy importer.
Technological edge for the USA in various fields provides ample opportunity for India in its future developmental goals.
A global strategic partnership which the two countries have developed is based upon both the shared democratic values along with the convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues. In spite of that, there have been more than 50 bilateral dialogue mechanisms between the two governments.
Areas of co-operation: Indo-U.S relations
A Delhi Declaration of friendship has been issued in 2015 by the two along with the adoption of a Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. Also, both the countries have come together while dealing with the issues common to them w.r.t. many countries including Pakistan, China, Indo-Pacific region, terrorism or Central Asia. Some of the examples can be traced like the adoption of counter-terrorism strategy by both the countries, changing of Afghanistan’s policy from Af-Pak to Af-Pak-India by the US under its new ‘US South Asia policy’.
US has also provided support to India in terms of making India a member of MTCR, Australia Group, Wassenaar Agreement. There are many foundational treaties including LEMOA, BECA, CISMOA, LSA, which the US wants India to sign all these agreements for escalating the cooperation between the two further.
Logistics Support Agreement deals with the mutual exchange of logistics support, supplies and services between the defence forces of the two. BECA refers to the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation. Communication and Information Security Memorandum Agreement ensures the interoperability of India and US equipment. But India has signed one of the above-mentioned agreements i.e. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement which provides access to each other’s military facilities for fuelling and logistics support. It signifies the depth of the existing relations between the two.
In terms of defence, the signing of ‘New Framework for India-US Defence Relations’ in 2005 boosted the defence relations due to trade, joint exercises, cooperation in maritime security, personnel exchanges etc. Moreover, in 2017, Washington recognised India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’.
“2 by 2” format have been adopted by the two countries for further strengthening their relations, acc. to which, a dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of both of these countries would be initiated.
Some of the joint military exercises include- Malabar Exercise, RIMPAC, Yudh Abhyas.
In terms of trade, the US is the second-largest trading part of India. But there are many challenges also, which poses the challenges in Economic relations including WTO Disputes, ‘America First’ vs ‘Make in India’, IPR Issue, etc.
Excellence is also achieved in the field of Science and Technology under the framework of U.S.-India Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in October 2005. The other agreements include IUSSTF in 2000, TMT Project, laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, etc.
Mars Exploration, NASA-ISRO synthetic aperture radar project, Space Situational Awareness Programme have been adopted for Space Cooperation. In terms of energy, Nuclear Energy, etc. many agreements have been signed for cooperation purposes.
Thus, the need of an hour is that there should be three elements in the Indian approach while dealing with the U.S.A. including economic, security and diplomatic. The Indian diaspora can also bring broad economic benefits to India as Indian American Community accounts for about 1% of the total population in the U.S. The Diaspora is also helping a lot in shaping the political and strategic relations between the two countries. Despite the fact that Trump’s administration announced a pull out from the Paris Climate Accord in June 2017, India should remain committed to the Paris Agreement so as to tackle the Climate change. Security should be the priority for strengthening the relations between both countries but playing on a diplomatic front, can prove to be a game-changer.