Brief on India-US Relations

India-US Relations

Context – India-US relations over the year and significance of 3rd 2+2 Dialogue.

How India-US ties deepened with the end of Cold War?

In the post-cold war era, India’s relationship with the US on defence and strategic issues has strengthened. This can be reflected in the following:

  1. 1991- India’s engagement with the US on defence cooperation started with the 1991 Kicklighter Proposals.
  2. · 1998: Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee authorized five underground nuclear tests in response to Pakistan’s test firing of a surface-to-surface missile. This had set India and U.S at a confrontational footing.
  3. · 2005- New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship has established an institutionalized framework, With a Defence Policy Group and its four sub-groups-
    • The Procurement and Production Group.
    • The Joint Technical Group.
    • The Military Cooperation Group.
    • The Senior Technology Group.
  • Bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement 2008: Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the two sides have agreed to build nuclear reactors in India. This was the time when the relationship between India and USA peaked and it was considered as a Game changer for INDO-US relations.
  • Bilateral trade: overall trade between the two countries has grown and reached $140 billion in 2018, the US is India’s largest trade partner.
    • From less than $400 million of defence acquisitions till 2005, the U.S. has since signed defence contracts of $18 billion.
  • 2016- The U.S. categorized India as “a Major Defence Partner” in 2016. It has helped that India also joined the export control regimes (Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime and Wassenaar Arrangement) and has practices consistent with the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • 2018- India was placed in Category I of the Strategic Trade Authorisation, easing exports of sensitive technologies.

Areas of growing cooperation:

  • Quad – India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific and its distinctive inclusiveness in the region is against the premise of multilateralism that the Quad presupposes. ‘Quad’ grouping of like-minded democracies has the potential to dramatically change the region’s security landscape.
  • Indo-pacific – The US under its Pivot to Asia policy views India as an ideal balancer to check the aggressive rise of China. Therefore, the US has formulated the concept of Indo-Pacific to counter China in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
  • 2+2 dialogue: It is the dialogue between Indian External Affairs and Defence Ministers, and their US counterparts. The main outcomes of 3rd India-USA 2+2 dialogue are-

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    • BECA – India has signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) with the USA. It will enable the exchange of geospatial data and information between the two countries and will improve the accuracy of India’s missiles in precision strikes.
      • BECA is one of the four foundational military communication agreements between the two countries. The other three are:
      • GSOMIA- General Security of Military Information Agreement.
      • LEMOA- Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement.
      • COMCASA- Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement.
    • India’s participation in Five Eyes meeting- India’s first-ever participation, in a meeting of the exclusive Five Eyes grouping that facilitates intelligence-sharing among the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Way forward-

India defined strategic autonomy as Non-alignment 2.0. The Indian strategic community needs to appreciate that policies cannot become prisoners of labels. The policy objective has to enhance India’s strategic space and capability.

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