India–United States relations
Despite being one of the pioneers and founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement of 1961, India developed a closer relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. During that period, India's relatively cooperative strategic and military relations with Moscow and strong socialist policies had a distinctly adverse impact on its relations with the United States. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, India began to review its foreign policy in an unipolar world, and took steps to develop closer ties with the European Union and the United States. Key recent developments include the very rapid growth of the India economy and the growth of trade, the close links between the Indian and American computer and internet industries, and the reversal in 2008 of the long-standing American opposition to India's nuclear programme. Today, India and the US share an extensive cultural, strategic, military, and economic relationship.
According to Gallup's annual public opinion polls, India is perceived by Americans as their 7th favorite nation in the world, with 72% of Americans viewing India favorably in 2011, increasing to 75% in 2012. As of 2012, Indian students form the second-largest group of international students studying in the United States, representing 13.1% of all foreigners pursuing higher education in America.
- 1 History
- 2 Country comparison
- 3 Military relations
- 4 Economic relations
- 5 Ties under the Obama Administration (2009-present)
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Historically, the relationships between India in the days of the British Raj and the US were thin. The only significant immigration from India before 1965 involved Sikh farmers going to California in the early 20th century. Very few American businessmen, tourists, religious seekers or Christian missionaries spent much time in India.
The religiously curious in the U.S. welcomed the visit of Swami Vivekananda, who introduced Yoga and Vedanta to America at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, in connexion with the World's Fair there in 1893. He also spoke to large audiences in Chicago and at numerous other venues in 1893-94. He raised some money but won few followers, so he moved on to England.
Mark Twain visited India in 1896 and described it in his travelogue Following the Equator with both revulsion and attraction before concluding that India was the only foreign land he dreamed about or longed to see again. Regarding India, Americans learned more from English writer Rudyard Kipling. Mahatma Gandhi had an important influence on the philosophy of non-violence promoted by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s.
World War II
Everything changed in World War Two, when India became the main base for the American China Burma India Theater (CBI) in the war against Japan. Tens of thousands of American servicemen arrived, bringing all sorts of advanced technology, and money; they left in 1945. Serious tension erupted over American demands, led by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that India be given independence, a proposition Prime Minister Winston Churchill vehemently rejected. For years Roosevelt had encouraged Britain's disengagement from India. The American position was based on principled opposition to colonialism, practical concern for the outcome of the war, and the expectation of a large American role in a post-colonial era. However, in 1942 when the Congress Party launched a Quit India movement, the British authorities immediately arrested tens of thousands of activists. Meanwhile India became the main American staging base for aid to China. Churchill threatened to resign if Roosevelt pushed too hard, so Roosevelt backed down.
After Indian independence and until the end of the Cold War, the relationship between the US and India was cold and often thorny. This was due to the closeness of the US towards India's arch-rival Pakistan during the War, with Pakistan joining the US-led Western Bloc in 1954. The relations worsened further with India pursuing a policy of being neutral i.e. not aligned with either the US or the Soviet Union, but maintaining close ties with the latter.
In the late 1940s, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru rejected American suggestions for resolving the Kashmir crisis. His 1949 tour of the US was "an undiplomatic disaster" that left bad feelings on both sides. India rejected the American advice that it not recognise the Communist conquest of China, but it did back the US when it supported the 1950 United Nations resolution condemning North Korea's aggression in the Korean War. India tried to act as a broker to help end that war, and served as a conduit for diplomatic messages between the US and China. Meanwhile poor harvests forced India to ask for free American food, which was given starting in 1950. In the first dozen years of Indian independence (1947–1959), the US provided $1.7 billion in gifts, including $931 million in food. The Soviet Union provided about half as much, largely in the form of steel mills. In 1961, the US pledged $1.0 billion in development loans, in addition to $1.3 billion of free food.
In 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first US President to visit India to strengthen the staggering ties between the two nations. He was so supportive that the New York Times remarked, "It did not seem to matter much whether Nehru had actually requested or been given a guarantee that the US would help India to meet further Chinese Communist aggression. What mattered was the obvious strengthening of Indian-American friendship to a point where no such guarantee was necessary."
During John F. Kennedy's period as President (1961–63), India was considered a strategic partner and counterweight to the rise of Communist China. Kennedy said,
"Chinese Communists have been moving ahead the last 10 years. India has been making some progress, but if India does not succeed with her 450 million people, if she can't make freedom work, then people around the world are going to determine, particularly in the underdeveloped world, that the only way they can develop their resources is through the Communist system."
The Kennedy administration openly supported India during the 1962 Sino-Indian war and considered the Chinese action as "blatant Chinese Communist aggression against India". The United States Air Force flew in arms, ammunition and clothing supplies to the Indian troops and the United States Navy even sent the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier from the Pacific Ocean to protect India, only to recall it back before it reached the Bay of Bengal. In a May 1963 National Security Council meeting, the United States discussed contingency planning that could be implemented in the event of another Chinese attack on India. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor advised the president to use nuclear weapons should the Americans intervene in such a situation. Kennedy insisted that Washington defend India as it would any ally, saying, "We should defend India, and therefore we will defend India." Kennedy's ambassador to India was the noted liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who was considered close to India. While in India, Galbraith helped establish one of the first Indian computer science departments, at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. As an economist, he also presided over the (at the time) largest US foreign aid program to any country.
Following the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, Indo-US relations deteriorated gradually and hit an all time low under the Nixon administration in the early 1970s. Richard Nixon established a very close relationship with Pakistan, aiding it militarily and economically, as India, now under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, was seen as leaning towards the Soviet Union. He considered Pakistan as a very important ally to counter Soviet influence in the Indian subcontinent and establish ties with China, with whom Pakistan was very close. The frosty relationship between Nixon and Indira worsened the relations further. During the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, the US openly supported Pakistan and even deployed its aircraft carrier USS Enterprise towards the Bay of Bengal, which was seen as a show of force by the US in support of the beleaguered West Pakistani forces (though it was later revealed to be a plan by the US to target the Indian army facilities). Later in 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test, Smiling Buddha, which was opposed by the US, however it also concluded that the test did not violate any agreement and proceeded with a June 1974 shipment of enriched uranium for the Tarapur reactor.
In the late 1970s, with the anti-Soviet Janata Party leader Morarji Desai becoming the Prime Minister, India improved its relations with the US, now led by Jimmy Carter, despite the latter signing an order in 1978 barring nuclear material from being exported to India due to the latter's non-proliferation record. But with Indira Gandhi returning to power in 1980 and India supporting the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the relations between the two countries weakened again in the 1980s. Not until 1997 was there any significant effort by both countries to improve relations with each other.
The Hurdles in India-United States Relations
The main hurdles, according to Sailen Debnath, that intermittently impaired the relations between India and the United States have been as under:
- Though both the countries of India and the U.S.A. have been democratic, in spite of US efforts since the time of Dwight D. Eisenhower and during the period of Kennedy to make and maintain reliable and durable friendship with India, India in the name of non-Alignment played the role of a strong supporter of the Soviet Union, for Nehru and many of his associates and successors suffered from Russophilia and Sinomania; and above all, the Indian left leaders kept constant pressure on Indian foreign policy makers to maintain distance from the U.S.A.
- India's anti-Zionist stand and leaning toward the Muslim side in debates regarding Israel is at odds with American policy, regardless of party-lines in the U.S.A.
- The role of Pakistan as a catalyst in normalising Sino-US relations in the 1970s led the US to favour Pakistan.
Soon after Atal Bihari Vajpayee became Indian Prime Minister, he authorised nuclear weapons testing at Pokhran. The United States strongly condemned this testing, promised sanctions, and voted in favour of a United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning the tests. President Bill Clinton then imposed economic sanctions on India, including cutting off all military and economic aid, freezing loans by American banks to state-owned Indian companies, prohibiting loans to the Indian government for all except food purchases, prohibiting American technology and uranium exports to India, and requiring the US to oppose all loan requests by India to international lending agencies. However, these sanctions proved ineffective - India was experiencing a strong economic rise, and its trade with the US only constituted a small portion of its GDP. Only Japan joined the US in imposing direct sanctions, while most other nations continued to trade with India. The sanctions were soon lifted. Afterward, the Clinton administration and Prime Minister Vajpayee exchanged representatives to help rebuild relations. In March 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton visited India, undertaking bilateral and economic discussions with Prime Minister Vajpayee. Over the course of improved diplomatic relations with the Bush Administration, India agreed to allow close international monitoring of its nuclear weapons development, although it has refused to give up its current nuclear arsenal. India and the US since have also greatly increased their economic ties.
After the September 11 attacks against the US in 2001, President George W. Bush collaborated closely with India in controlling and policing the strategically critical Indian Ocean sea lanes from the Suez Canal to Singapore. After the December 2004 tsunami, the US and Indian navies cooperated in search and rescue operations and in the reconstruction of affected areas. An Open Skies Agreement was signed in April 2005, enhancing trade, tourism, and business via the increased number of flights, and Air India purchased 68 US Boeing aircraft at a cost of $8 billion.
Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made recent visits to India as well in 2005. The United States and India also signed a bilateral Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina, India donated $5 million to the American Red Cross and sent two planeloads of relief supplies and materials to help. Then, on 1 March 2006, President Bush made another diplomatic visit to further expand relations between India and the US.
India emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core US foreign policy interests. India, the dominant actor in its region, and the home of more than one billion citizens, is now often characterised as a nascent Great Power and an "indispensable partner" of the US, one that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to the growing clout of China. Since 2004, Washington and New Delhi have been pursuing a "strategic partnership" that is based on shared values and generally convergent geopolitical interests. Numerous economic, security, and global initiatives - including plans for civilian nuclear cooperation - are underway. This latter initiative, first launched in 2005, reversed three decades of American non-proliferation policy. Also in 2005, the United States and India signed a ten-year defence framework agreement, with the goal of expanding bilateral security cooperation. The two countries now engage in numerous and unprecedented combined military exercises, and major US arms sales to India have gotten under way. The value of all bilateral trade tripled from 2004 to 2008 and continues to grow, while significant two-way investment also grows and flourishes. The influence of a large Indian-American community is reflected in the largest country-specific caucus in the United States Congress, while from 2009-2010 more than 100,000 Indian students have attended American colleges and universities.
During the tenure of the George W. Bush administration, relations between India and the United States were seen to have blossomed, primarily over common concerns regarding growing Islamic extremism, energy security, and climate change. In November 2010, President Barack Obama visited India and addressed a joint session of the Indian Parliament, where he backed India's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
|Area||3,287,240 km2 (1,269,210 sq mi)||9,526,468 km2 (3,678,190 sq mi)|
|Population Density||370/km2 (958.2/sq mi)||33.7/km2 (87.4/sq mi)|
|Capital||New Delhi||Washington, D.C.|
|Largest City||Mumbai – 13,922,125 (21,347,412 Metro)||New York City – 8,363,710 (19,006,798 Metro)|
|Government||Federal parliamentary constitutional republic||Federal presidential constitutional republic|
|First Leader||Jawaharlal Nehru||George Washington|
|Current Leader||Dr. Manmohan Singh||Barack Obama|
|Official languages||Hindi and English, 21 other constitutionally recognised languages||English (de facto)|
|Main religions||80.5% Hinduism, 13.4% Islam, 2.3% Christianity, 1.9% Sikhism, 0.8% Buddhism, 0.4% Jainism||78.4% Christianity, 16.1% non-Religious, 1.7% Judaism, 0.7% Buddhism, 0.6% Islam, 0.4% Hinduism|
|Ethnic groups||See Ethnic Groups of India||58.08% White American, 14.8% Hispanic and Latino Americans (of any race), 13.4% African American,
6.5% Some other race, 4.4% Asian American, 2.0% Two or more races,
0.68% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.14% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
|GDP (nominal)||$1.848 trillion ($1,389 per capita) (10th)||$15.094 trillion ($48,386 per capita) (1st)|
|GDP (PPP)||$4.515 trillion ($3,694 per capita)(3rd)||$15.094 trillion ($48,386 per capita) (1st)|
|Indian Americans||60,000 American born people living in India||2,765,815 People of Indian origin living in the United States|
|Military expenditures||$48.9 billion (FY 2012)||$700.7 billion (FY 2012) |
|Telecommunications (Mobile Phones)||893,843,534||327,577,529|
US-India military relations derive from a common belief in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, and seek to advance shared security interests. These interests include maintaining security and stability, defeating violent religious extremism and terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and associated materials, data, and technologies, and protecting the free flow of commerce.
In recent years, India has conducted large joint military exercises with the US in the Indian Ocean.
Recognising India as a key to its strategic interests, the United States has sought to strengthen its relationship with India. The two countries are the world's largest democracies, and both are committed to political freedom protected by representative government. The US and India have a common interest in the free flow of commerce and resources, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. They also share an interest in creating a strategically stable[clarification needed] Asia.
There have been some differences, however, including US concerns over the nuclear weapons programmes and the pace of economic reforms in India. In the past, these concerns may have dominated US thinking, but today the US views India as a growing world power with which it shares common strategic interests. A strong partnership between the two countries will continue to address differences and shape a dynamic and collaborative future.
In late September 2001, President Bush lifted sanctions imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India's nuclear tests in May 1998. The non-proliferation dialogue has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. In a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee in November 2001, the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the US-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. In January 2004, the US and India launched the "Next Steps in Strategic Partnership" (NSSP), which was both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress.
In July 2005, Bush hosted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington, D.C. The two leaders announced the successful completion of the NSSP, as well as other agreements which further enhanced cooperation in the areas of civil nuclear, civil space, and high-technology commerce. Other initiatives announced included a US-India economic dialogue, the fight Against HIV/AIDS, disaster relief, technology cooperation, an agriculture knowledge initiative, a trade policy forum, energy dialogue, CEO Forum, and an initiative to assist each-other in furthering democracy and freedom. President Bush made a reciprocal visit to India in March 2006, during which the progress of these initiatives were reviewed, and new initiatives were launched.
In December 2006, the US Congress passed the historic Henry J. Hyde US-India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act, which allows direct civilian nuclear commerce with India for the first time in 30 years. US policy had been opposed to nuclear cooperation with India in prior years because India had developed nuclear weapons against international conventions, and had never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT). The legislation clears the way for India to buy US nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian use.
In July 2007, the two countries reached a historic milestone in their strategic partnership by completing negotiations on the bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, also known as the "123 Agreement." Signed on 10 October 2008 by Secretary of State Rice and Indian External Affairs Minister Mukherjee, the agreement governs civil nuclear trade between the two countries, and opens the door for American and Indian firms to participate in each other's civil nuclear energy sector. Rani argues that India benefits from the agreement in terms of energy security, economic growth, environmental impact, and improvements in science and technology. The benefits to the U.S. include economic market improvements, job creation, and the advancement of non-proliferation objectives.
The United States is one of India's largest direct investors. From 1991 to 2004, the stock of FDI inflow has increased from USD $11.3 million to $344.4 million, and totaling $4.13 billion. This is a compound rate increase of 57.5 percent annually. Indian direct investments abroad began in 1992, and Indian corporations and registered partnership firms are now allowed to invest in businesses up to 100 percent of their net worth. India's largest outgoing investments are in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for 54.8 percent of the country's foreign investments. The second largest are in non-financial services (software development), accounting for 35.4 percent of investments.
The US is one of India's largest trading partners. In 2011, the US exported $21.50 billion worth of goods to India, and imported $36.15 billion worth of Indian goods. Major items imported from India include information technology services, textiles, machinery, gems and diamonds, chemicals, iron and steel products, coffee, tea, and other edible food products. Major American items imported by India include aircraft, fertilisers, computer hardware, scrap metal, and medical equipment.
The United States is also India's largest investment partner, with a direct investment of $9 billion (accounting for 9 percent of total foreign investment). Americans have made notable foreign investments in the Asian country's power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration and processing, and mining industries.
In July 2005, President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh created a new programme called the Trade Policy Forum. It is run by a representative from each nation. The United States Trade Representative was Rob Portman, and the Indian Commerce Secretary then-Minister of Commerce Kamal Nath. The goal of the programme is to increase bilateral trade and investment flow. There are five main sub-divisions of the Trade Policy Forum, including:
- The Agricultural Trade group has three main objectives: agreeing on terms that will allow India to export mangoes to the United States, permitting India's Agricultural and Process Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) to certify Indian products to the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and executing regulation procedures for approving edible wax on fruit.
- The goals of the Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers group include agreeing that insecticides manufactured by US companies can be sold throughout India. India had also agreed to cut special regulations on trading carbonated drinks, many medicinal drugs, and lowering regulations on many imports that are not of an agricultural nature. Both nations have agreed to discuss improved facets of Indian regulation in the trade of jewellery, computer parts, motorcycles, fertiliser, and those tariffs that affect American exporting of boric acid. The group has also discussed matters such as those wishing to break into the accounting market, Indian companies gaining licenses for the telecommunications industry, and setting policies regarding Indian media and broadcasting markets. Other foci include the exchange of valuable information on recognising different professional services, discussing the movement and positioning of people in developing industries, continuation of talks on financial services markets, limitation of equities, insurance, retail, joint investment in agricultural processing and transportation industries, and small business initiatives.
The majority of exports from the US to India include: aviation equipment, engineering materials and machinery, instruments used in optical and medical sectors, fertilisers, and stones and metals. Below are the percentages of traded items (India to US), which have increased by 21.12 percent to $6.94 billion:
- Diamonds & precious stones (25 percent)
- Textiles (29.01 percent)
- Iron & Steel (5.81 percent)
- Machinery (4.6 percent)
- Organic chemicals (4.3 percent)
- Electrical Machinery (4.28 percent)
Major items of export (US to India) for the year 2006 (up to the month of April) were $2.95 billion USD:
- Engineering goods & machinery (including electrical) (31.2 percent)
- Aviation & aircraft (16.8 percent)
- Precious stones & metals (8.01 percent)
- Optical instruments & equipment (7.33 percent)
- Organic chemicals (4.98 percent)
Ties under the Obama Administration (2009-present)
Just days into President Barack Obama’s term, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and India’s External Affairs Minister agreed to "further strengthen the excellent bilateral relationship" between the two countries. Soon afterward, President Obama issued a statement asserting that, "Our rapidly growing and deepening friendship with India offers benefits to all the worlds citizens", and that the people of India "should know they have no better friend and partner than the people of the United States." As part of her confirmation hearing, Hillary Clinton told US senators she would work to fulfill President Obama’s commitment to "establish a true strategic partnership with India, increase our military cooperation, trade, and support democracies around the world."
Despite such top-level assurances from the new US Administration, during 2009 and into 2010, many in India became increasingly concerned that Washington was not focusing on the bilateral relationship with the same vigor as did the previous. Many concerns arose in New Delhi that the Obama Administration was overly focused on US relations with China in ways that would reduce India’s influence and visibility. In addition, the government of India was concerned that America was intent on deepening relations with India’s main rival, Pakistan, in ways that could be harmful to Indian security and perhaps lead to a more interventionist approach to the Kashmir problem, that a new US emphasis on nuclear nonproliferation and arms control would lead to pressure on India to join such multilateral initiatives as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty, and that the Administration might pursue (so-called) protectionist economic policies that could adversely affect bilateral commerce in goods and services.
New Delhi has also long sought the removal of Indian companies and organisations from US export control lists, seeing these as discriminatory and outdated. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake contends that much progress has been made in this area, with less than one-half of one percent of all exports to India requiring any license.
India also continued to seek explicit US support for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. However, the Obama Administration said it recognised a "need to reassess institutions of global governance", and asserted that India’s rise "will certainly be a factor in any future consideration of reform" of that Council.
Secretary of State Clinton was widely seen to have concluded a successful visit to India in July 2009, inking several agreements, making important symbolic points by staying at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel (site of a major terrorist attack in 2008), and having a high-profile meeting with women’s groups. While in New Delhi, Clinton set forth five "key pillars" of the US-India engagement: (1) strategic cooperation, (2) energy and climate change, (3) economics, trade, and agriculture, (4) education and development, and (5) science, technology, and innovation.
In November 2009, President Obama hosted an inaugural state visit with Prime Minister Singh at the White House. Despite its important symbolism, the resulting diplomacy was seen by many proponents of closer ties as disappointing (if not an outright failure) in its outcome, at least to the extent that no "breakthroughs" in the bilateral relationship were announced. Yet from other perspectives there were visible ideational gains: the relationship was shown to transcend the preferences of any single leader or government, the two leaders demonstrated that their mutual strategic goals were increasingly well-aligned, and plans were made to continue taking advantage of complementarities, with differences being well-managed. Perhaps most significantly, the visit itself contributed to ameliorating concerns in India that the Obama Administration was insufficiently attuned to India’s potential role as a US partner.
President Obama’s May 2010 National Security Strategy noted that, "The United States and India are building a strategic partnership that is underpinned by our shared interests, our shared values as the world’s two largest democracies, and close connections among our people," and
"Working together through our Strategic Dialogue and high-level visits, we seek a broad-based relationship in which India contributes to global counterterrorism efforts, nonproliferation, and helps promote poverty reduction, education, health, and sustainable agriculture. We value India’s growing leadership on a wide array of global issues, through groups such as the G-20, and will seek to work with India to promote stability in South Asia and elsewhere in the world."
June 2010 Strategic Dialogue
In June 2010, the United States and India formally re-engaged the US-India Strategic Dialogue initiated under President Bush when a large delegation of high-ranking Indian officials, led by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, visited Washington, D.C. As leader of the US delegation, Secretary of State Clinton lauded India as "an indispensable partner and a trusted friend". President Obama appeared briefly at a United States Department of State reception to declare his firm belief that America "will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century." The Strategic Dialogue produced a joint statement in which the two countries pledged to "deepen people-to-people, business-to-business, and government-to-government linkages ... for the mutual benefit of both countries and for the promotion of global peace, stability, economic growth and prosperity." It outlined extensive bilateral initiatives in each of ten key areas: (1) advancing global security and countering terrorism, (2) disarmament and nonproliferation, (3) trade and economic relations, (4) high technology, (5) energy security, clean energy, and climate change, (6) agriculture, (7) education, (8) health, (9) science and technology, and (10) development.
President Obama’s planned travel to India
While US-India engagement under the Obama Administration has not (to date) realised any groundbreaking initiatives (comparable to that of the Bush Administration), it may be that the growing "dominance of ordinariness" in the relationship is a hidden strength that demonstrates its maturing into diplomatic normalcy. In this way, the nascent partnership may yet transform into a "special relationship" similar to those the United States has with the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan, as is envisaged by some proponents of deeper US-India ties.
As the US President planned his November 2010 visit to India, an array of prickly bilateral issues confronted him, including differences over the proper regional roles to be played by China and Pakistan, the status of conflict in Afghanistan, international efforts to address Iran’s controversial nuclear program, restrictions on high-technology exports to India, outsourcing, and sticking points on the conclusion of arrangements for both civil nuclear and military cooperation, among others.
According to some foreign policy experts, Obama's India visit was going to change US approach towards India permanently. This was later proved when President Obama saw India as a prominent Great Power on the world stage and declared it as one of the most important allies of the US President Obama also openly supported India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Obama's India Visit is seen by some foreign relations experts as the most successful US Presidential Visit to India.
Foreign policy issues
According to some analysts, India-US relations have been strained over the Obama administration's approach to handling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. India's National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, criticised the Obama administration for linking the Kashmir dispute to the instability in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and said that by doing so, President Obama was "barking up the wrong tree." Foreign Policy in February 2009 also criticised Obama's approach to South Asia, saying that "India can be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem" in South Asia. It also suggested that India take a more proactive role in rebuilding Afghanistan, irrespective of the attitude of the Obama Administration. In a clear indication of growing rift between the two countries, India decided not to accept a US invitation to attend a conference on Afghanistan at the end of February 2009. Bloomberg has also reported that, since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the public mood in India has been to pressure Pakistan more aggressively to take actions against the culprits behind the terrorist attack, and that this might reflect on the upcoming Indian general elections in May 2009. Consequently, the Obama Administration may find itself at odds with India's rigid stance against terrorism.
Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, dismissed any concerns over a rift with India regarding American AfPak policy. Calling India and the United States "natural allies", Blake said that the United States cannot afford to meet the strategic priorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan at "the expense of India".
India strongly criticised the Obama Administration's decision to limit H-1B (temporary) visas, and India's then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee (Now the President of India) said that his country would oppose US "protectionism" at various international forums. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a close aide to India's main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said that if the United States continues with its anti-outsourcing policies, India will "have to take steps to hurt American companies in India." India's Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, said that India may move against Obama's outsourcing policies at the World Trade Organization. However, the outsourcing advisory head of KPMG said that India had no reason to worry, since Obama's statements were directed against "outsourcing being carried out by manufacturing companies" and not outsourcing of IT-related services.
In May 2009, President Obama reiterated his anti-outsourcing views and criticised the current US tax policy "that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York." However, during the US-India Business Council meeting in June 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advocated for stronger economic ties between India and the United States. She also rebuked protectionist policies, saying that "[United States] will not use the global financial crisis as an excuse to fall back on protectionism. We hope India will work with us to create a more open, equitable set of opportunities for trade between our nations."
In June 2009, United States provided diplomatic help in successfully pushing through a $2.9 billion (USD) loan for India sponsored by the Asian Development Bank, despite considerable opposition from China.
Strategic and military relations
|“||"As part of that strategy, we [India and U.S.] should expand our broader security relationship and increase cooperation on counterterrorism and intelligence sharing."||”|
In March 2009, the Obama Administration cleared the $2.1 billion sale of eight P-8 Poseidons to India. This deal, and the $5 billion agreement to provide Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft and General Electric F414 engines announced during Obama's November 2010 visit, makes the US one of the top three military suppliers to India (after Israel and Russia).
India has expressed its concerns that the Obama Administration's non-military aid to Pakistan will not be used for counter-insurgency, but for building up the Pakistani military, which India strongly opposes. However, Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said that the Pakistani government was increasingly focused on fighting the Taliban insurgency, and expressed hope that the people of India would "support and agree with what we are trying to do".
Concerns were raised in India that the Obama Administration was also delaying the full implementation of the India-US Nuclear Deal. The Obama administration has strongly advocated for the strengthening of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and has pressured India to sign the agreement. India's special envoy, Shyam Saran, "warned" the United States that India would continue to oppose any such treaty, as it was "discriminatory". In June 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Obama administration was "fully committed" to the India-US civil nuclear agreement.
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen has encouraged stronger military ties between India and the United States, and said that "India has emerged as an increasingly important strategic partner [of the US]". US Undersecretary of State William Joseph Burns also said, "Never has there been a moment when India and America mattered more to each other."  The Deputy Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, during his address to the Asia Society in New York on August 1, 2012 said that India-US relationship has a global scope, in terms of the reach and influence of both countries. He also said that both countries are strengthening the relations between their defence and research organisations.
While they have been pleased with the quality of the American weapons, the Indians have raised concerns about contract clauses forbidding the offensive deployment of these systems.
2010 visit by President Obama
In November 2010, Obama became the second US President (after Richard Nixon in 1969) to undertake a visit to India in his first term in office. On 8 November, Obama also became the second US President to ever address a joint session of the Parliament of India. In a major policy shift, Obama declared US support for India's permanent membership on the UN Security Council. Calling the India-US relationship "a defining partnership of the 21st century", he also announced the removal of export control restrictions on several Indian companies, and concluded trade deals worth $10 billion, which are expected to create and/or support 50,000 jobs in the US.
- Indian Americans
- Americans in India
- India as an emerging superpower
- Embassy of India in Washington, DC
- Foreign relations of India
- Foreign relations of the United States
- United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act
- American Library (New Delhi)
- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
- United States Ambassador to India
- Teresita C. Schaffer, India and the United States in the 21st Century: Reinventing Partnership (2010)
- India-U.S. Economic and Trade Relations
- The Evolving India-U.S. Strategic Relationship
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