India US Strategic partnership has taken a fresh turn after the declaration of the “Defence Appropriations Bill . As part of a defence appropriations bill of over $600 billion, the US Congress passed legislation that designated India as a “major defence partner”. Under its provisions, India will be treated at par with the US’s closest allies when it comes to the transfer of defence technologies.
India US | Background
India US defence cooperation started in 1995 with the Agreed Minute on Defence Relations. The process of defence cooperation may well have proceeded apace following this agreement. However, after May 1998 following the Indian nuclear tests, all such collaboration effectively ground to a halt. It required multiple round of talks to place the incipient security relationship back on track.
India US | Why the defence relationship didn’t succeed earlier?
India US relations were not able to see proper light as :
- India had remained heavily dependent on Russia for its defence supplies.
- India had a general antipathy towards the United States, especially in the top echelons of the Government in the initial days’ post-disintegration of the Soviet Union.
India US | Improvement in the strategic relationship
- Post-disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, India got the opportunity to reach out to the west and expand our relations with the west.
- In 2000, President Clinton visited India and after that we started negotiating the India-US Nuclear deal in 2006-07.
- President Barack Obama visited in 2010 and described US-India relationship as the defining partnership of the 21st century.
- In the US there is a bipartisan consensus on having good, positive, strong and diversified relations with India.
- Defence is one of the very significant and important elements of the bilateral partnership over the last several years.
India US | The Trump relations
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that he looks forward to having close ties with US and to work with the Trump administration.
- During the election campaign itself, Mr Trump spoke many positive things about India and in his election rhetoric he said “Ab ki baar Trump sarkar”. In this context India can be hopeful and confident that the relations are going to improve.
- There are fears in the field of H1B visas. But it is possible that American business will be able to impress upon him that the future, the competitiveness of the US industry depends upon the presence of the software professionals from India.
- The areas of concern for India are his policies towards Pakistan, China and Russia and Obama’s Pivot to Asia.
- There is around 3 million of Indian Diaspora in the United States which is playing a very significant role because they are highly educated, prosperous and several of them occupied top positions during Trump’s campaign. They have generated jobs for Americans and participated very actively in sliding the American economy upwards. Indian investments in the US have shot up recently too.
India US | Defence Relations
- In 2005 India-US framework agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was signed. This was renewed in 2015.
- Recently India was designated as “a major defence partner”. This is a designation that the US provides to its NATO members, to its allies like Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. India will also be stepping into these ranges of countries.
- There are large numbers of initiatives on defence cooperation and one of them is Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)..
- Today US has become the second largest supplier of defence equipment to India with orders more than $15 billion. A relationship that started from zero in 2005 has come very far in this respect.
- We are effectively cooperating in the Malabar Exercise (Naval exercise). There is an immense scope of making it trilateral by bringing in India-US-Japan or India-US-Australia. India has more exercises with US than with any other country. There are so many indicators to prove that our relationship in defence and also in other areas like science, knowledge, culture is in bright spot for both the countries.
- There are talks about Counter terrorism where we see prospects of greater relations.
- India can be an active partner in the United States led Pivot to Asia which is aimed at containing the hegemonic position of China.