Re­boot­ing Indo-US re­la­tions

SP's MAI - - INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL -

BJP-led gov­ern­ment in In­dia and es­pe­cially Naren­dra Modi be­ing at the helm of af­fairs. The sig­nals em­a­nat­ing from the US gov­ern­ment clearly re­flect their de­sire to shed the bag­gage of the past and move for­ward. This spirit is en­cap­su­lated in the words of As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for South and Cen­tral Asia Nisha De­sai Biswal who stated, “We will fo­cus on shared pros­per­ity and strate­gic con­ver­gence – more specif­i­cally, how part­ner­ship be­tween the US and In­dia can make our coun­tries and the en­tire global or­der more pros­per­ous and more se­cure.”

While John Kerry gen­er­ated the right po­lit­i­cal vibes, what was to­tally ab­sent in the in­ter­ac­tion at dif­fer­ent lev­els was the need to foster the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two na­tions in the regime of de­fence. This is an area in which while there has been sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­ac­tion, there is the need and scope for much more. In the last few years, the In­dian Air Force (IAF) has been able to ac­quire through the For­eign Mil­i­tary Sales (FMS) Pro­gramme of the US gov­ern­ment, three Boe­ing Business Jets for VVIP travel, six C-130J Su­per Her­cules mil­i­tary trans­port air­craft and ten C-17 Globe­mas­ter III strate­gic air­lift air­craft. Or­ders for six more C-130J Su­per Her­cules air­craft have al­ready been placed and in due course, the IAF may place or­ders for another six of the C-17 Globe­mas­ter III air­craft. Mean­while, the In­dian Navy is in the process of in­duct­ing eight P8I long range mar­itime pa­trol air­craft that have be­gun ar­riv­ing and may place or­ders for another four such plat­forms. All the pro­cure­ments listed above have been ex­e­cuted in record time.

Apart from the pro­cure­ments listed above, there are a num­ber of other pro­cure­ments in the pipe­line. Th­ese in­clude 22 AH-64D Apache At­tack He­li­copters and 15 CH-47F Chi­nook heavy-lift he­li­copters, both from Boe­ing. The In­dian Army too is look­ing for­ward to in­duct­ing the M-777 ar­tillery and a fleet of Apache he­li­copters. And of course the IAF would wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to grad­u­ate to tech­nol­ogy of fifth gen­er­a­tion and beyond through strate­gic part­ner­ship with the US, a priv­i­lege not avail­able so far.

While the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the In­dian gov­ern­ment ne­go­ti­ate with their coun­ter­parts from the US to put bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the two na­tions on even keel, they need to bear in mind that the stake of the In­dian Armed Forces in the achieve­ment of this ob­jec­tive is very high.

The US Sec­re­tary of State, John Kerry and the US Sec­re­tary of Com­merce Penny Pritzker call­ing on the Prime Min­is­ter, Naren­dra Modi, in New Delhi. The Union Min­is­ter for Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs and Over­seas In­dian Af­fairs Sushma Swaraj is also seen.

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