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A new phase of redefining India US Relations

The author, Commodore RS Vasan, is the Director General Chennai Centre for China Studies Regional Director NMF (Tamil Nadu)

The last few weeks have witnessed phenomenal engagement in the visual, print and social media about the forthcoming visit of PM Modi to USA. While he has been visiting USA almost every year since assuming the mantle as the PM of the largest democracy, this one touted as “no other” is a special one as he is the only foreign dignitary during his tenure to address the US Congress twice.

The relations have matured over the last few decades and hold promise for the free world as the largest and the oldest democracies  come together to address the challenges of the coming decades. These have now transcended the boundaries of transactional or foundational agreements. It presents another opportunity for the leadership of the two countries to work together to sustain the momentum for nurturing shared values of humanity. The format for such visits has been tweaked with each such mutual visit to ensure there is continuity in the charted course and consolidation of past path breaking initiatives. It is clear that both countries are determined to ratchet up the size and scale of economic, military, technological, cultural and diplomatic relations.

The increased realization that  both countries complement each other in their efforts to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity has made it possible for launching new initiatives  to further the deep strategic relations.  While the cultural soft power would be on full display on 21st June at New York as the world celebrates the global yoga day, no stones will be left unturned to ensure that the well integrated  growing diasporas’ voice is strengthened by showcasing the new found resolve of India as a global player.

The decision to commence joint production along with technology transfer of the GE 414 engine which is crucial for Atma nirbarata would be a new path breaking technological innovation initiative for India. Both China and India have not been able to overcome this technological barrier in making their own engines and this would open up many avenues for the future of aviation industry in India. The contracts drawn up recently for over 220 Boeings is illustrative of the attractiveness of the growing aviation sector in India and it is a win-win for both countries as there are numerous areas of engagement and opportunities for trade and investment in critical areas of technology while simultaneously adding to the growing MSME sector.

The increasing defense technology cooperation with USA augurs well for both the countries as India would be helped in its drive for make in India and make for the world campaign. For the USA it ensures that there is a trusted partner to take on the emerging challenges. Notwithstanding India’s unambiguous stand on not being a part of NATO plus alliance to maintain its strategic autonomy there has been no let up in the convergence in defense sales and technology transfer. the Army and the Air Force have benefited from the high end weapons and sensors, the Indian Navy which has been the first responder and the net security facilitator has added to its capacity and capability by the induction of the advanced UAVs and the MH 60 helicopters.

At a strategic level, there is growing convergence in the way the two countries can contribute to the emerging global order as promoters of rule based order and stability. The QUAD and Indo Pacific Ocean Initiatives have opened up new vistas in the health, technology, HADR, Maritime Domain Initiatives, Intelligence sharing, climate change and the most important initiatives to overcome the supply chain dependence on any one country.

Though the QUAD was launched in 2007, it took another decade for the initiative to mature in to a credible multilateral forum which is not confined to the military domain. The unstated aim is also to ensure that China which has demonstrated its aggressive intent with its neighbours does not take advantage of the economic differential to drive its agenda in areas of interest to both USA and India.  There will be renewed emphasis during the meetings on the Rule based order and a Free and Open Indo Pacific which is central to security and stability in the Indo Pacific which has emerged as  the centre of gravity in this century.

In conclusion, the two countries have realized the importance of working together .The chemistry between the two leaders and the accompanying delegation which will be on full display augurs well for building up on the strong foundations laid by successive leaders.  The visit will reaffirm the importance of working together to deal with the emerging threats and challenges. This visit would reinforce the belief that India remains central to global calculus which has many stake holders.

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