India-America Relations: The South Asian Perspective

India and the US are bolstering their relations across all fronts. While trade is increasing, more people have started to travel between the two countries for study, work or vacation. The two governments, besides the private sector, are discussing new and bold initiatives in space, energy cooperation and aviation, including new vistas in nuclear energy.

India America Cordial Relations

New Delhi and Washington have started to forge a bilateral defence agenda that was considered implausible even four years ago. US President George W Bush’s vision of Indo-US strategic partnership in the 21st century is slowly becoming a reality. The two countries are building upon shared interests and values for implementing actions that bind the two sides together.

Washington has acknowledged New Delhi’s emergence as a world power and has recognised that both countries must ensure that the two sides’ interests and values support the existing cordial bilateral framework.

However, Indo-US relations must always be based on practicalities. Frank G Wisner, former US ambassador to New Delhi, recently said, “The US is as good to India as India is good to the US, provided we manage our interests and difficulties carefully.”

The US, today, looks at India in almost a diametrically different way than what it used two decades ago. Washington’s initial disapproval to New Delhi’s nuclear programme to strategic dimensions as regards civil nuclear cooperation underlines a huge diplomatic achievement. India is seen as a key player in maintaining balance of power in the south Asian regions, armed with a strong military and economic structure, besides being a responsible nuclear power. Neither Washington nor New Delhi wants a unipolar Asia.

And as regards South Asia, both sides concede that no issue is more pertinent to the Indo-America relations than that of Pakistan. Both India and the US share a common interest to secure a moderate Pakistan. It’s a tall order nevertheless and the two sides needs scour a winning strategy. While Washington has to focus on its military assistance on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism initiatives, New Delhi has to press Islamabad hard for a transparent and pursuing dialogue on several issues including Kashmir. Besides, India has to capitalize on Pakistan granting the former the status of most favoured nation.

Both India and the US, needs to reach out to countries like Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, among others, to establish relations and strike a measure of balance. Washington has accepted New Delhi’s rise in power. While the former’s interest lies in the latter’s peace and security, the latter has to play out a stronger role in South Asia.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased significantly of late. However, it’s still on a very modest scale. The two sides haven’t been able to make any headway to resolve their differences on agriculture in the World trade Organization. But Washington is aware of the fact that New Delhi is its only dependable partner in South Asia. And to that extent, both sides have enough scope to work towards greater cooperation to bolster partnership and keep Beijing at bay.

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