As , the world’s oldest democracy and the largest democracy struggles to set their relationship on track amid differences and similarities while aligning it with their national interests, they have to find the common grounds to enhance their cooperation with taking each other’s sensitivities & political realities into consideration,only then there will be a real progress in their partnership.Before discussing the relationship between two nations ,lets have a brief look into the history of their bilateral relationship.
After India got her Independence on 15th august 1947, it’s first prime minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru met the US President Harry S Truman on his multi week tour to the US & with this formal relationship of the Republic of India began with the United States of America.On 09th december 1959 the US president Dwight D Eisenhower became the first serving US president to visit India & meet Indian president Dr. Rajendra Prasad & addressed Indian parliament.During 1962 sino-India war over a border dispute along McMohan Line ( The McMahon Line between India and Tibet was negotiated in March 1914 by Sir Arthur McMahon, Secretary to the Government of India, and confirmed in Article 9 of the Simla Convention, initialed July 3, 1914, by representatives of the United Kingdom, China, and Tibet. The Simla Convention was not subsequently signed or ratified by China.) the then Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru ordered military operation to throw chinese forces out of the indian territory ,but the unprepared,underequipped indian troops fell to the chinese aggression,perturbed by which ,he wrote a letter to the then US president John F Kennedy for military assistance including deployment of 12 Squadrons of american fightercrafts with american pilots to check the chinese aggression along North East India.In response Kennedy asked his confidant & the then US ambassador to India Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith to provide necessary assistance at which arms,ammunitions,special clothing and aviation spare parts were provided to the Indian military. The US has also warned China in Warsaw of the consequences & deployed its aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk to retaliate if chinese defies warnings.As a result China declared an unilateral ceasefire and receded back to its original position along the border.
In 1963 the US agronomist & the noble peace prize winner Norman Borlaug in collaboration with Indian scientist Dr. MS Swaminathan tested high yield wheat varities in India which led to Green revolution that helped India to acheive food self sufficiency. Earlier Nehru had requested president Dwight D Eisenhower for an economic expert to help fix India’s economic planning after which Professor John K Galbraith interrupted his work and came to India for three months to work with planning commission on issues related to Indian agriculture.It was after 1965 Indo-Pak war & later India’s testing of her first nuclear bomb ,the relationship between two took a dive.
India & the US began their first ever Joint India-US Political Military Dialogue on 30th April 2002 to have a comprehensive discussions on myraid international issues including Civil Nuclear Cooperation.After which in 2008 ,both signed a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement also called as ”123 Agreement” that heralded a new chapter in their bilateral relationship.US also supported India’s membership in the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),a 48 member organisation which overlooks the trade of nuclear materials,nuclear fuels,safety measures in nuclear installations world over & also checks adherence of member countries to nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act,2010 which till date had been a hindrance in materialising the agreement due to extension of liabilty law to the supplier of nuclear reactors & components in case of any nuclear accident, have recently got solved with the launch of India Nuclear Insurance Pool of ₹ 1500 crore ( $250 million) to insure nuclear suppliers of both Domestic & international firms.Despite France,Canada,Australia & the USA’s support ,NSG wants India to sign Non Proliferation Treaty as a precondition to get membership of the group,but they should bear in mind a fact that with the presence of two nuclear weapon neighbours ,India’s position with respect to NPT is firm.
In South Asia ,US trained & armed Islamic rebels & used Pakistan as a conduit to drive out Soviets from Afghanistan in late 80’s.Post 09/11 World trade centre attack it declared Paksitan as the major non NATO ally in its Operation GWOT (Global War On Terrorism) & also played a flickery role in Kashmir status quo.Strangely enough, then US had an obession with the classification of Good vs Bad Taliban & now again we are witnessing the similar modus operandi in the Middle East.
As US mulls over the ways to reduce its troops from Afghanistan after a 13 year long war against terrorism there & relocate them to other priority areas in Iraq & the Middle East ,there is a high chance of Afghanistan slipping back into chaos ,since its newly fromed ANA( Afghan National Army ) is yet to overcome their Operational and Logistic constraints ,to make them capable enough to stand firm in face of battle hardened Taliban fighters.Its necessary for US to take India into confidence while negotiating any further step as she is a major stakeholder with over $ 2 billion investment in that war torn country .Earlier on different occasions US has reiterated its stance of welcoming India to play a major role in reconstruction of Afghanistan,but for that to happen it will have to tame the wild ambitions of the Pakistani military establishment from creating any nuisance to keep India out of dialogue process & with fear of losing its strategic hold over Afghanistan.Unless checked, the catfight will further destablise the already frail situation.United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) had said ,that many terrorist factions have claimed allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) which could provide a potential alternative to the Taliban, a development which can’t be taken casually & needs close cooperation between all stakeholders that includes Pakistan ,US,China & India.US neither has made any hard bargain to eliminate terrorist camps operating in PoK( Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) & with full backing from pakistani military & Intelligence agencies ,nor it has made any blunt talk to Pakistan coercing it to bring the perpetrators of 2008 Mumbai Attacks to justice.These are the sensitivities US should take into account before it expects that India should consider him as her reliable ally.
When it comes to the Indian Ocean Region ,through which 60% of sea borne trade is done annually,sustained cooperation is necessary to keep the sea lanes free from Piracy & armed clash.Last year there was an attempt by the terrorists ,who had hijacked a Pakistani Navy vessel to blow up the US & the Indian Navy ships operating in the region,which in itself is an ominous of the emerging capability of the terrorists to wage war in the sea, LTTE being the known terrorist organization to have sea warfare capability.Interestingly ,pakistan’s Ex-military officers were involved in the attack ,which is of concern.
Unilateral actions of China in South & East China sea by forcibly deploying Oil rigs , fast attack crafts,reclamation of Land from sea to extend its territorial claim by building airstrips and other military facilities is a serious issue and may lead to armed clash if not solved amicably.It was nice to learn that during US president Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015 ,he & PM Narendra Modi in their joint declaration emphasized cooperation in South China sea alongwith Asia Pacific & Indian Ocean as part of USA’s ”Rebalance to Asia” & India’s ” Act East Policy ”. The cooperation is very much necessary to maintain peace in South East Asia & keep the sea lanes free from any regional dominance while adhering to the UNCLOS ( United Nation Convention on the Laws Of Sea).
India depends upon Middle Eastern countries to meet its increasing energy needs & the turmoil in the region gives fertile ground for the terrorist oragnisations to breed & spread terror.Arab Upspring & consequent revolution in many arab states had plunged the entire region into further chaos & the emergence of Islamic State now spreading the misplaced ideological battle beyond its borders drawing foreign fighters while dividing the region along sectarian lines.Here as well USA’s obsession to install democracy as the panacea to all problems through military action has proven futile & instead of anything constructive it has destroyed whatever little good was there. Whether it is Syria or Iran’s nuclear issue US has to be realistic in its objectives if it wants to have a lasting peace in the region. India’s stand on both Syria & Iran is firm and consistent ,with former it wants the International community lead by UN to initiate dialogue and put an end to all military activities while in case of latter ,India acknowledges Iran’s right to have nuclear capabilities for civilian use and wants UN as a whole to sit with Iran for any dialogue.
Russia holds a special place & privilage in India , her strategic partnership with India is quite deep , unlike US which sells majority of its weapons with a lot of strings attached while Russia don’t which helps India keep its foreign policy independent.So its upto US to figure out what makes Russia so special for India ,evenif US & India have a lot more in common than India has with Russia.
On the economic front the relationship between two nations has been shaky ,with US raising issue on IPR ( Intellectual Property Rights ) , subsidies on agricultural procurements in WTO ,Preferential treatment to India solar firms etc .All the outstanding issues are solvable on suitable platfroms through dialogues.Another area which needs close cooperation is Cybersecurity.India & US had signed a MoU for Cybersecurity Cooperation on July 19,2011. With the increase in cloud storage activities & as the critical Infrastructure depends heavily on IT system ,it’s imperative to strengthen cybersecurity & devise & develop new methods & ways to prevent hacking & damage to critical security systems. Radicalisation of peoples through social media also demands proactive cybersecurity cooperation involving US , India & other stakeholders.
One of the best thing about Open societies is that they provide sufficient room for disscussions & debates on diverse issues ,but at the same time they have to keep their mind open to think from each other’s perspectives & that’s perfectly possible in case of US India relationship.
(This is an Essay on US India relationship , giving a brief overview of the important points of the bilateral relationship , not to be confused with any special article)