Indo US Relations: India and USA have had since history, a sweet and sour relationship, although both nations have always tried to cement ties under a variety of leadership.
The United States of America has seen a major power cumulation after the post- Soviet era. The US hegemony has been there unabated. But, now the global order is changing with changing geopolitics, rising regional powers and superpowers which put a challenge across the past scenarios.
In recent times, the US and India are bound by a variety of interests and ideologies. US, under the leadership of Trump puts across a new face of cultural nationalism, protectionism and standing strongly against terrorism. All these fronts are similarly shared by India too under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. The burgeoning friendship is powered with mutual respect, strong bonding, and of course, the rising share of Indian-Americans’ population in the US.
Recently, Trump paid his maiden visit to India which kicked off with a grand show in Ahmedabad. This, along with the past meetings between the two leaders reiterate the mutual feeling to work together. India and the US both have a tough stance on radical Islamic terrorism, both the countries have been victims to terror attacks of 26/11 and 9/11. Also, both the countries wish to restore and keep peace in regions such as Afghanistan. India-US relations on a strategic term with Pakistan’s angle largely are affected by the Taliban-peace process as the US wants to keep Pakistan close to get the American troops out of Afghanistan. Also, India’s straightforward stance towards Pakistan being a safe-haven for terrorists has been repeated for years. Therefore, apart from their bilateral relationship, both superpowers- India and the US have a greater global role to play- to fight terrorism.
The recent tensions between US and Iran had its own consequences on India with India hesitating to import crude oil from Iran which came at a cheaper price than the imports from the US. India’s autonomy to have trade with any country in the world must not be impacted by a third country.
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Likewise, India wanted to get a waiver from the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions (CAATSA) when the S-400 deal took place between India and Russia. So, it is clear and important to note that, India cannot afford to get dragged into the policy of taking sides with countries given that to for India, it is a crucial time to focus on development and many internal social and political issues.
The US’s Indo-Pacific strategy has India as the key player.
India, when seen in Asia seems to be the most promising counter to China. The efforts to contain China from getting hold of the region is the US’s greatest concern. Also, India sees a tough competition with China, similarly in the region and wants to have a greater hold in the Indo-Pacific region. Also, India has been wary of the Pakistan-China friendship. Therefore, India and the US share common concerns on this front. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a pinching point for the US and for India too. To counter it, Blue Dot Network has been on the US’s plate, however fundamentally different from the BRI, it looks forward to reorder the region in US’s favour.
India and the US have offered the biggest defense partnership in recent times. Three agreements were signed in the 2+2 dialogue last year. India got the Strategic Trade Authorization Status (STA-1) like other Nato allies for easing exports of high technology defense products. India also seeks US investments in developing its own defense capabilities indigenously. The recent Trump’s visit gave $3 billion worth deal on defense equipment like- Apache and Romeo MH-60 military helicopters.
India and the US show a rising energy partnership with India being a big buyer of Liquified Natural Gas from the US. Indian investments in the shale gas sector in the US are nearly $4 billion approximately and both the countries are working on various fronts such as- renewable sources of energy along with energy efficiency and sustainable development. The total trade flow increased and is about $140 billion in 2018 and is expected to rise further in 2019’s trade figures too.
However the trade-relationship has not been smooth lately.
The current US lens to see the world has been commercial or economic unlike in the past where the strategic role of US towards the world was dominant. India benefited from that strategic approach. Under this new commercial and trade centric outlook, India seems like a nation with ill intellectual property protections, protectionist, isolationist to the USA just like China. Such outlooks can be detrimental for India and the US towards their larger indo-pacific strategies to counter China. Recently the US removed India from the developing countries list which will enable the US to tax India like other developed countries and impose countervailing duties. Earlier too, the US snapped India’s trade concessions under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). These steps can prove to be detrimental towards India and its trade relationship with the US. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, the US has adopted a protectionist, isolationist approach, a tough immigrant policy which has consequently resulted in restrictions on the H1-B visas which is also a point of concern.
Therefore, it is time that India and the US resolve their conflicts and work towards collective goals to establish peace, build greater understanding, cooperate in trade, technology and fight terrorism. India with USA’s support can emerge as a key power in Asia and USA with India’s support can have a greater hold in the East. Both superpowers, if cooperate and work together can provide benefits to each other like a perfect symbiotic relationship.
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