Giv­ing eco­nomic mus­cle to strate­gic part­ner­ship

In­dia and US have al­ready achieved a bi­lat­eral trade of $100 bil­lion and aim to raise this to the level of $1 tril­lion by 2030

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By Ranjeet Ku­mar ]

Eco­nomic strength will add mus­cle to In­dia’s strate­gic strength and pro­file

Be­fore the fifth bi­lat­eral in­ter­ac­tion be­tween Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on Septem­ber 28, the two For­eign Min­is­ters John Kerry and Sushma Swaraj had only a week ago laid the ground-work for their talks un­der the aegis of the first ever com­bined strate­gic and com­mer­cial di­a­logue. That US and In­dia strate­gic re­la­tions are on a new tra­jec­tory need not be re­it­er­ated, the chang­ing geopol­i­tics of the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion is en­cour­ag­ing the two demo­cratic pow­ers to come closer. Eco­nomic and de­fence trade forms the bul- wark of this re­la­tion­ship and has seen an ex­po­nen­tial rise since the mid­dle of the last decade. A decade ago de­fence trade be­tween In­dia and US was al­most neg­li­gi­ble, but con­sis­tent ef­forts by the US lead­ers and of­fi­cials, by re­lax­ing its na­tional de­fence ex­port laws, led to a bur­geon­ing of de­fence trade re­la­tions, which has now be­come a sub­ject of envy for other coun­tries hav­ing strong de­fence ex­changes with In­dia. The two coun­tries now plan to give a new di­men­sion to their strate­gic part­ner­ship on global is­sues.

The two coun­tries have now ex­panded the strate­gic di­a­logue to en­com­pass com­mer­cial ties also, as trade and eco­nomic re­la­tion­ships will de­velop a strong stake in the pros­per­ity and sta­bil­ity of both

the coun­tries. With this aim, for the first time, the two coun­tries ex­changed frank views on strength­en­ing eco­nomic ties. To give ef­fect to this com­mit­ment be­tween the two coun­tries, the US Com­merce Sec­re­tary Penny Pritzker and In­dian Com­merce Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man along with their teams par­tic­i­pated in talks with full strength. Dur­ing Modi’s visit to UN Head­quar­ters, In­dia was the talk of the town es­pe­cially among busi­ness and strate­gic cir­cles. Lo­cal media quoted a tech­nol­ogy en­tre­pre­neur and aca­demic, Vivek Wad­hwa, as say­ing, “Usu­ally CEOs don’t spare time for even Heads of State/Gov­ern­ment, and they keep a safe dis­tance from Washington DC. In fact Modi was the first Head of State to visit the head­quar­ters of Face­book cam­pus in Menlo Park.”

To en­able In­dia to play its new global role, the US is en­cour­ag­ing In­dia to strengthen its de­fence ca­pa­bil­i­ties and help­ing In­dia ac­quire latest weapon sys­tems and plat­forms. The US side has also agreed to sup­port In­dia for early mem­ber­ship of the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity, which will en­hance In­dia’s pro­file in the re­gion. In­dia and US have al­ready achieved a bi­lat­eral trade of $100 bil­lion and aim to raise this to the level of $1 tril­lion by 2030. Con­sid­er­ing the strength and pos­si­bil­i­ties of the two coun­tries, this can be achieved, the rest of the world re­alise this. Hence In­dia is be­ing courted by all the pow­ers from West to East.

An of­fi­cial US doc­u­ment ac­knowl­edges with pride that US has signed more than $10 bil­lion in de­fence trade with In­dia, which has strength­ened In­dia’s ca­pac­ity as a net provider of se­cu­rity in the In­dian Ocean re­gion. The ink­ing of latest $3.1-bil­lion deal for Apache and Chi­nook he­li­copters has added another feather in its cap. Thus the to­tal deal dur­ing last one decade will now be $13 bil­lion. Giv­ing the ex­am­ple, the US doc­u­ment says that In­dian Air Force used US made C-130 and C-17 air­craft to evac­u­ate In­dian and third coun­try na­tion­als from Ye­men and speed re­lief sup­plies to Nepal af­ter its dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in Nepal. The In­dia US de­fence sup­ply re­la­tions are now turn­ing a new leaf and from buyer-seller re­la­tion­ship both are en­ter­ing a new era of joint devel­oper of weapon sys­tems and plat­forms, un­der the aegis of the De­fence Trade and Tech­nol­ogy Ini­tia­tive (DTTI).

Prime Min­is­ter Modi ac­knowl­edged be­fore Pres­i­dent Obama dur­ing his meet­ing on Septem­ber 28 in New York, “Our part­ner­ship ad­dresses a broad range of strate­gic and se­cu­rity con­cerns. Our de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing de­fence trade and train­ing, is ex­pand­ing.” In­dia is keen to en­hance its mar­itime se­cu­rity and has adopted a pol­icy to draft the like-minded coun­tries for ex­change of ideas and pro­gramme. Prime Min­is­ter Modi made a strong pitch for ob­tain­ing a chair on the high ta­ble of the world and US, Bri­tain, Rus­sia and France did not dither from declar­ing their sup­port for the per­ma­nent mem­ber­ship of the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC). Modi suc­cess­fully hosted a sum­mit of the G-4 group (In­dia, Ger­many, Ja­pan and Brazil), though they have of late be­come a re­luc­tant cam­paigner for the UNSC seat.

The visit of Prime Min­is­ter Modi led to reaf­fir­ma­tion of the aims of In­dia-US strate­gic part­ner­ship as they recog­nised it to be a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to the peace, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity in the In­dian Ocean and Asia-Pa­cific re­gions and around the globe. Since China aims to emerge as a ma­jor player and claimant of the space in these ar­eas, the joint com­mit­ment by the world’s only su­per­power US and In­dia, the emerg­ing power, to jointly take care of their strate­gic and eco­nomic in­ter­ests is ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant. Pres­i­dent Obama and Prime Min­is­ter Modi also re­asserted their con­tin­ued co­op­er­a­tion un­der the joint strate­gic vi­sion for the Asia-Pa­cific and In­dian Ocean re­gion. Con­sid­er­ing the con­tin­ued for­ays of the Chi­nese war­ships in the In­dian Ocean re­gion, the two pow­ers vi­su­alise Chi­nese ag­gres­sive ef­forts to dom­i­nate the sea to pro­tect its energy sup­ply routes and trade with Africa, which the Chi­nese now plan to con­nect via Gwadar port of Pak­istan through the Kash­gar re­gion of Xin­jiang. A 1,500-km-long China-Pak­istan eco­nomic cor­ri­dor is un­der ex­e­cu­tion, on which Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment plans to in­vest around $46 bil­lion.

The Chi­nese want a di­rect sea route con­nec­tion through land route of Pak­istan. Hence the strate­gic guardians of In­dia and US are wary of in­creased Chi­nese mar­itime ac­tiv­ity in the re­gion. The US-In­dia strate­gic part­ner­ship as­sumes sig­nif­i­cance from this per­spec­tive. Along with the two coun­tries, Ja­pan has also been added and a kind of tri­an­gle is emerg­ing in the Asia–Pa­cific re­gion. Sig­nif­i­cantly for­eign min­is­ters of these three coun­tries met in New York for the first time in this for­mat and is­sued a veiled warn­ing to China to de­sist from solv­ing the sea dis­putes in the two China seas through force. China has re­cently con­structed an ar­ti­fi­cial airstrip on the dis­puted re­gion and is try­ing to grab the mar­itime area.

The In­dia-US strate­gic re­la­tion­ship thus has ram­i­fi­ca­tions in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion. And in this con­text, US would like In­dia to emerge as a coun­ter­bal­ance to China, for which In­dia’s emer­gence as an eco­nomic power is a nec­es­sary pre­req­ui­site. The US side fa­cil­i­tated this dur­ing Modi’s visit to New York and Cal­i­for­nia, where he in­ter­acted with the top CEOs of US and the world. The world is look­ing to­wards In­dia as an emerg­ing eco­nomic power, whose sta­bil­ity and progress is now vi­tal for their well-be­ing.

In New York and in Sil­i­con Val­ley, Prime Min­is­ter Modi reached out to the busi­ness lead­ers and re­as­sured them that In­dia is in­deed the place to­day to in­vest in. Modi was able to con­vey to the world busi­ness lead­ers that In­dia can no longer be ig­nored. Modi’s pho­toops with the cho­sen 42 For­tune 500 CEOs was a land­mark event for any Head of Gov­ern­ment vis­it­ing the United States. In to­day’s world a coun­try com­mands re­spect only when it has eco­nomic back­ing. And In­dia un­der Modi has been able to pro­ject it­self as an eco­nomic mag­net of the world. Eco­nomic strength will also add mus­cle to In­dia’s strate­gic strength and pro­file.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi de­liv­er­ing his state­ment to the media in the Joint Press Brief­ing with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in New York on Septem­ber 28, 2015

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in New York

on Septem­ber 28, 2015

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