The transformation of the India-US relationship from estranged democracies to a strategic partnership has been a defining movement of the 21st century, with the two countries having witnessed significant cooperation in several areas of common interests. While successive Indian Prime Ministers and US Presidents have played pivotal in cementing the ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden have also taken a slew of measures in this regard. Therefore, the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US on June 21-24 can be viewed as a historic movement in the relationship.
Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress for a second time, reiterating to US leaders that a resurgent India is committed to working together with the United States in ensuring peace, security and development in South Asia and other parts of the globe. Undoubtedly, one of the major shifts that have been observed in the relationship is an unprecedented political willingness in both countries to engage each other. This can be gauged from regular interactions between the senior Indian and US political leaders on a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to America was in the limelight. Although all the visits of Indian Prime Ministers had been a matter of great curiosity and attraction for the news media of that time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest visit to America, and decisions between India and America, regarding economic and trade relations, strategic purchases, technology collaborations and a warm welcome to the Prime Minister at the White House, all have sent a pleasant feeling back home in India.
The relationship between these two great democracies had not been very cool in history. And even today, there are some elements in the United States, who keep on raising their fingers on India on the fake narratives of freedom of expression, freedom of press, protection of ethnic minorities, democracy etc. And in the past, these elements had been successful in casting shadows on the official statements, utterances and public postures in official proceedings. The success of PM Modi’s visit is seen in the fact that it was perhaps pre-decided diplomatically that no such utterances will be made during PM Modi’s state visit. This is a clear manifestation of equality in relationships between two nations.
The joint statement of the two leaders says that the two nations will “facilitate greater technology sharing, co-development, and co-production opportunities between U.S. and Indian industry, government, and academic institutions.” It’s notable that India has made marked progress in the field of upcoming technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space and telecommunications among others. India and US have decided to work together in these fields. This depicts a stronger relationship between two great economic and technological superpowers.
PM Modi’s US visit assumes greater significance also due to the fact that today the US is facing huge challenges- economic, diplomatic and strategic. World sees India to be an important player, which has a role to play in the present world economy. There was a time in the history when US Dollar (USD) was dominating the world, with USD occupying 70 per cent of the global reserve currency; today it has come down to nearly 54 per cent. The US is amidst the worst inflation of the century at present. The status of the world’s ‘Dada’ has been significantly eroded after its abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the rise of fundamentalist government there. Utter failure in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, constant losses of Ukraine and resulting energy and general inflation and disruption of supply chain impacting the production world over has exposed the hollowness of the US posture as a superpower.
Under these conditions, it’s imperative for the US to find partners who are capable and trustworthy. Partners, whose leaders have an influence on other world leaders. Significantly, in the past, the relations between India and America have generally been unequal. Not only this but strategically, America has mostly been a supporter of Pakistan. Overall, if there was no bitterness in the relations between India and America since the time of the Cold War, there was no harmony either. But with the collapse of Soviet Russia, the economic emergence of China and the steady progress in the Indian economy, new chapters were added in the relations between India and America. In the year 2000, then US President Bill Clinton visited India and also signed a historic agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, which opened a new chapter in trade and investment between India and US; and started a strategic partnership between the two countries. During Modi’s visit this time, a historic technology transfer in fighter jet’s engine by GE is being seen as a big departure from the earlier policy of the US.
On the other hand, due to the growing clout of China and its challenge to America as a superpower, India emerged as a natural strategic partner of America. India, America, Japan and Australia’s Quad was its natural outcome.
At present, if we talk about Indo-American relations, then these relations are economic, strategic, and technological cooperation and also growing relations between the people of the two countries. In the last almost a decade, a new warmth is being seen in the relations between India and America. Although there has been bitterness between India and America on many issues. India has emerged as its important partner country.
India’s imports of defence goods from Russia as well as the West including the US are decreasing, but India has also started exporting defense goods to different parts of the world. We have started exporting Tejas light combat war planes to Malasia and few African countries.
Relations in the field of trade were somewhat strained due to the US raising tariffs on many products imported from India in response to their own self-reliance efforts, and India retaliating by increasing import duties on many American products. Both India and America have decided to end their trade disputes in view of their economic interests. During the current US visit of the Prime Minister, it has been decided that India will withdraw the retaliatory tariffs on American products and on the other hand, America will withdraw its disputes against India in the World Trade Organization. This agreement is being considered a new chapter of equal treatment in the relations between India and America, where no decision is one-sided.