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AIR spotlight summary on “India-US major strategic partnership”.



AIR spotlight summary on “India-US major strategic partnership”.


Ashton Carter Defence Secretary of US visited India to have important talks with the Government of India. He said India is rising military power, both courtiers share democracy, multi rationalism and lot in common. India is seen as the strategic partner of US in future. This is an ongoing partnership and an ongoing relationship.


  • If we go back during the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, it provided the opportunity for India to reach out to the west and expand our relations with the west. In 2000 we had the visit of President Clinton and after that we had India-US Nuclear deal. When President Obama visited in 2010 he 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. With the alternative Democrat and the Republican Presidents the trajectory of India’s bilateral ties is going to go upwards.
  • Defence is one of the very significant and important elements of the bilateral partnership over the last several years. It has great potential to increase in future.

India-US Relations in new Developing Situation

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he is looks forward to having close ties with US and to work with the Trump administration.
  • Whichever party comes to power in US, there is an inherent logic of stronger India-US partnership in areas of defence, trade, and investment or in strategic cooperation.
  • Even during whole of the election campaign Trump did not speak even a single bad word or comment about India. On contrary there were many positive things 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.
  • One area where we could possibly see some negative repercussions could be the restrictions of H1B visas. But even if this happens there are possibilities that American business will also 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. There might be an impact at the beginning, but going forward there would not be such a negative impact.
  • The areas of concern for India are his policies towards Pakistan, china, Russia, his ideas about Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Pivot to Asia and these will have an impact on India.
  • The presence of Indian’s in America has generated jobs for Americans. It is a case of participating in American economy in a manner that creates more jobs. Many industries, factories and enterprises which otherwise could fail have been revived because they have been made more competitive. Indian investment in US has also gone up significantly.
  • The Indian Diaspora in US of around 3 million out of the total population of 340 million is playing a very significant role because they are highly educated, prosperous and several of them occupied top positions during Trump’s campaign.

India-US Defence Relations

  • The declaration to implement the decision that was taken in principle when Prime Minister Modi visited Washington in June 2016 to designate India as a trusted, favoured defence partner. The defence partnership has been blossoming, growing and expanding over the last many years. 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). The idea is that the partnership between India and US should no longer be a transactional buyer seller relationship, but it should also have elements of progressive manufacturing of components in India.
  • Starting from the base level of zero in 2005 where there was no exchange, today US has become the second largest supplier of defence equipments to India with orders more than $15 billion.    
  • There is scope of making it trilateral by bringing in India-US-Japan or India-US-Australia. The Malabar exercise is in good progress. There are talks about having bilateral exercises with Australia. India has more exercises with US than with any other country. Similarly US also have more exercises with India whether it is on land, on air, on water, mountainous terrain or desert terrain. This speaks about the level of confidence and the comfort level we have come to have with each other. 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.