Me­dia Call: Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh’s White House visit

SP's MAI - - MILITARY -

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Man­mo­han Singh met Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Septem­ber 27 at the White House. Prior to Dr Singh’s visit to the White House, the Carnegie En­dow­ment for In­ter­na­tional Peace or­gan­ised a me­dia call in which em­i­nent schol­ars such as Ash­ley J. Tel­lis and Mi­lan Vaish­nav dis­cussed topics likely to come up in the bi­lat­eral meet­ing be­tween the two lead­ers, in­clud­ing the land­mark In­dia-US civil nu­clear deal, en­hanc­ing de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, and strength­en­ing trade, in­vest­ment and eco­nomic col­lab­o­ra­tion.

The visit be­ing an im­por­tant one, the Ed­i­tor-in-Chief of SP’s M.A.I. Jayant Baran­wal, par­tic­i­pated in the me­dia call to elicit views of the schol­ars on Indo-US re­la­tions, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to de­fence.

Jayant Baran­wal (SP’s): What are the steps the United States is tak­ing to­wards cre­at­ing con­crete syn­er­gies be­tween the world’s two largest democ­ra­cies? Ash­ley J. Tel­lis: The short an­swer to that is to look at the char­ac­ter of the en­gage­ment that has been put in place now over the last 10-odd years. There is a huge agenda that the two coun­tries are work­ing on in the con­text of the strate­gic di­a­logue.

The strate­gic di­a­logue is this um­brella that cov­ers strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion, de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, co­op­er­a­tion on en­ergy, co­op­er­a­tion on sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, co­op­er­a­tion in ed­u­ca­tion, co­op­er­a­tion on cli­mate. I mean, the list is lit­er­ally end­less. And both sides have been work­ing first on rec­on­cil­ing poli­cies. Se­condly, there are con­crete ini­tia­tives that both sides are pur­su­ing un­der each of th­ese is­sue ar­eas. And so when one talks of syn­er­gies be­tween the two coun­tries, I think the one thing that has cer­tainly changed when one thinks of the re­la­tion­ship prior to 1998 is that to­day both coun­tries are pur­su­ing a co­op­er­a­tion agenda that is ac­tu­ally re­ally far too de­tailed to kind of list.

And, you know, I would just rec­om­mend you go to any of the fact sheets that have been pub­lished in the last sev­eral years and you’ll get an ex­tra­or­di­nary agenda about the co­op­er­a­tion. SP’s: How does the US see the nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity of In­dia now? A quick re­view. Tel­lis: When you say ‘nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity’, are you talk­ing of civil­ian nu­clear en­ergy or are you talk­ing of nu­clear weapons? SP’s: Holis­ti­cally. Tel­lis: Well, on the civil nu­clear en­ergy side, I think the US recog­nises that In­dia has placed a pri­or­ity on in­creas­ing the share of nu­clear en­ergy as part of its to­tal en­ergy mix. And the US has re­ported that and is look­ing for­ward re­ally to con­clud­ing, you know, the prom­ise of the civil nu­clear agree­ment to make that hap­pen.

On the nu­clear weapons is­sue, the US has been silent be­cause as a mat­ter of rule we don’t com­ment on the nu­clear weapons ca­pa­bil­i­ties of other coun­tries. But as you know, the US has rec­on­ciled it­self to the fact that In­dia has nu­clear weapons, and to­day this ad­min­is­tra­tion in par­tic­u­lar is far more fo­cused on nu­clear se­cu­rity rather than on the weaponry it­self. SP’s: In terms of the de­fence mar­ket, what kind of an in­vest­ment can be ex­pected by US com­pa­nies in In­dia in the next 10 years? Tel­lis: It all de­pends on how In­dia treats US de­fence com­pa­nies in terms of its own reg­u­la­tions and its in­vest­ment lev­els. As long as for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI) in de­fence is capped at 26 per cent, I don’t think US com­pa­nies will take the ini­tia­tive to make ma­jor in­vest­ments in In­dia. But if the FDI caps are lib­er­alised up­wards, then I think you will be­gin to see a process. Now, there is al­ready some in­vest­ment oc­cur­ring be­cause of the off­sets re­quire­ments, but if you want to see real, ma­jor in­vest­ments by US com­pa­nies in In­dia, then I think you have to have an in­crease in FDI lev­els. You can­not have FDI lev­els capped at 26 per cent and ex­pect that US com­pa­nies will make big in­vest­ments in In­dia.

Dr Man­mo­han Singh and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama at their sum­mit meet­ing at the White House

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