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The recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister to the United States marked an important milestone in the strengthening of India-US relations. This occasion, marked by meaningful dialogues and strategic agreements, has profound implications for both nations. The meetings aimed at bolstering economic, strategic, and technological ties, addressing global challenges together, and cementing the partnership in the face of shifting global dynamics.
What is the Significance of these developments for India and the US?
Strategic Balancing in a Multipolar World Amid Changing Global Dynamics: The recent geopolitical developments like rise of China, decline in multilateral institutions, Russia-Ukraine war and growing influence of emerging economies highlight a constantly evolving world order. The US needs India to counterbalance China in the Indo-Pacific region. Post Galwan clash, India also needs to develop a stronger relationship with the US.
Diversification of partnership: The expansion of partnership across sectors like technology, space, health, digital infrastructure, and energy allows both nations to diversify their collaboration beyond traditional domains. For India, this can mean an infusion of capital, technical know-how, and access to advanced technology. For the US, it means access to India’s large market, robust human resources, and a rapidly growing technology sector.
Defense and security cooperation: The defense technology transfer signifies the US’s recognition of India as a trusted ally. This will bolster India’s self-reliance in defense and enhance its military capabilities. For the US, it strengthens a key partnership in a geopolitically sensitive region.
Strengthening of economic relations: The resolution of trade disputes signifies a move towards more robust and fair economic relations. It allows both countries to protect their economic interests and ensure healthier trade ties, benefiting businesses and consumers in both nations.
Collaboration for global challenges: Increased collaboration in the health sector, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, showcases the shared commitment of both countries to address global health challenges. Similarly, cooperation in clean energy reflects their responsibility towards global climate issues.
Enhancement of People-to-People Ties and Role of the Indian Diaspora: Deepening people-to-people ties not only fosters mutual understanding and goodwill, but also strengthens the durability of bilateral relations. The role played by the Indian diaspora in the economic and political life in the US is highlighted by the appointment of more than 130 Indian-Americans to key positions in Biden administration. The community makes up around one percent of the American population.
What are the Implications of these developments for India?
Broadened technological collaboration: The commitment to greater technology sharing in fields like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and telecommunications has the potential to propel India’s tech sector forward. Access to advanced technology and research opportunities can significantly boost India’s innovation ecosystem.
Defense and security: The strategic technology transfer in fighter jet engines can enhance India’s defense capabilities. This aligns with India’s goal to become more self-reliant in defense production and could act as a deterrent against regional threats.
Space exploration: Collaboration in space exploration and technology could give a substantial push to India’s space ambitions, helping the country further its scientific research, satellite capabilities, and potentially manned missions.
Energy sector boost: The focus on clean energy collaboration can provide technological and financial support for India’s transition to renewable sources. This is crucial for India’s energy security and its commitments towards climate change mitigation.
Economic opportunities: The resolution of previous trade disputes with the US means increased access to one of the world’s largest markets. This could result in higher exports, increased foreign investments, and overall economic growth for India.
Health sector advancement: The collaboration in the health sector, especially regarding COVID-19 response and the distribution of vaccines, will help improve India’s health infrastructure. This is likely to contribute to better health outcomes for the Indian population in the long run.
Strengthening of international stature: The recent developments signal recognition of India as a significant global player by the US. This can enhance India’s diplomatic influence and bargaining power on the international stage.
What are the challenges in India-US relationship?
|Read here: Recalibrating the India-US relationship|
Defense dependence on Russia: India’s historical and ongoing dependence on Russian military supplies, such as the S-400 missile system, conflicts with US sanctions on Russia. This issue complicates India-US relations and could hinder deeper strategic collaboration.
Varied stance on global conflicts: India and the US have different perspectives on global conflicts. For instance, India’s abstention from condemning Russia over the Ukraine crisis and its balanced approach towards the Israel-Palestine conflict contrasts with the US’s positions.
Human Rights and Democratic Values: There are elements in the US who keep on raising the issues of freedom of expression, freedom of press, protection of ethnic minorities, democracy, etc. in India. During the recent official visit of the Indian Prime Minister, more than 70 American lawmakers wrote to U.S. President Joe Biden asking him to raise concerns about democratic norms and human rights in India.
Trade and economic issues: Despite growing trade, issues persist, such as Indian protectionism and restrictions on market access for certain US goods. Further, the contentious subject of H1B visas, crucial for Indian professionals, remains unresolved.
Uncertainty about US policy: Indian policymakers express concern about policy shifts in the US due to domestic political changes. Such uncertainty, especially in areas like immigration and foreign policy, can make long-term planning difficult for India.
Handling China: While both countries have concerns about China’s rise, they differ in their approach. India maintains a nuanced stance towards China due to its geographical proximity and complex historical relations. This can sometimes lead to divergences with the US approach.
Climate change policy: While both nations are working towards sustainable development and climate change mitigation, the pace and extent of their commitments differ. India, a developing country, emphasizes the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ and seeks more support from developed countries like the US.
What should be the course of action for India?
Strategic Diplomacy and Stance on Global Issues: Amid the complexities of a multipolar world, India should uphold its principles of strategic autonomy. This means nurturing its burgeoning relationship with the US, while also maintaining balanced relations with other global powers such as Russia and China. Concurrently, India must articulate its stance on global conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine issue, ensuring respect for international norms without compromising its national interests. In doing so, India affirms its position as a responsible global player capable of contributing to peaceful conflict resolution.
Trade disputes resolution: India must continue working on resolving trade disputes with the U.S., ensuring the negotiation of fair and balanced trade agreements. Enhancing market access, addressing intellectual property rights issues, and balancing trade deficits should be priorities.
Defense sector: India should carry forward its cooperation with the U.S. in the defense sector, focusing on technology transfer and joint production. This will help enhance India’s defense capabilities, contributing to national security.
Managing regional politics: India needs to carefully manage its regional politics, especially with respect to the Afghanistan situation. It should actively engage with the US and other stakeholders to ensure that its interests in the region are protected.
Role in the Quad: India should utilize the Quad platform for promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, countering China’s aggressive behavior, and addressing shared global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stance on global issues: India should carefully articulate its stance on global issues such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, respecting international laws and norms while ensuring its national interests are not compromised. As a responsible global player, India should also actively contribute to finding peaceful solutions to these conflicts.