India–United States relations

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Indian–American relations
Map indicating locations of India and United States


United States
Diplomatic mission
Embassy of India, Washington, D.C.Embassy of the United States, New Delhi
Ambassador Taranjit Singh SandhuAmbassador Eric Garcetti
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office in September 2021

Relations between India and the United States date back to India's independence movement and have continued well after independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. Currently, India and the United States enjoy close relations and have deepened collaboration on issues such as counterterrorism and countering Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.[1]

In 1954, the United States made Pakistan a Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) ally.[2] As a result, India cultivated strategic and military relations with the Soviet Union to counter Pakistan–United States relations.[3] In 1961, India became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement to abstain from aligning with either the US or the USSR in the Cold War.[4] The Nixon administration's support for Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 affected relations until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the 1990s, Indian foreign policy adapted to the unipolar world and India developed closer ties with the United States.[5]

In the twenty-first century, Indian foreign policy has sought to leverage India's strategic autonomy to safeguard sovereign rights and promote national interests within a multi-polar world.[6][7] Under the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush (2001–09) and Barack Obama (2009–2017), the United States has demonstrated accommodation to India's core national interests and acknowledged outstanding concerns.[8] Increase in bilateral trade and investment, co-operation on global security matters, inclusion of India in decision-making on matters of global governance (United Nations Security Council), upgraded representation in trade and investment forums (World Bank, IMF, APEC), admission into multilateral export control regimes (MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group) and support for admission in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and joint-manufacturing through technology sharing arrangements have become key milestones and a measure of speed and advancement on the path to closer US–India relations.[9][10] Since 2014, strategic cooperation between the two nations has deepened[11] and India was declared a "Major Defense Partner" of the United States.[12] India and the United States have also stepped up their cooperation among multilateral groups such as The Quad and I2U2 Group.[13]

Gallup's annual World Affairs survey shows India is perceived by Americans as their sixth favorite nation in the world, with 71% of Americans viewing India favorably in 2015,[14] and 70% in 2023.[15] Gallup polls found that 74% of Americans viewed India favorably in 2017,[16] 72% in 2019,[17] 75% in 2020[18] and 77% in 2022.[19] According to a Morning Consult poll conducted in August 2021 after the fall of Afghanistan, 79% of Indians viewed the United States favorably, compared to 10% who viewed the United States unfavorably, the highest percentage out of all 15 major countries surveyed, more favorable than even how most Americans viewed the United States.[20]


Age of Exploration[edit]

The term "Indian", which has been used as an alternative for the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, originated with Christopher Columbus, who, in his search for India, thought that he had arrived in the East Indies. This historical misnomer has persisted over the centuries, shaping cultural perceptions and narratives surrounding Native American identity.[21][22][23][24][25][26]

Pre-American Independence Era[edit]

Elihu Yale: British-American colonial administrator, and philanthropist, clerk for the East India Company at Fort St. George (now Madras)

Elihu Yale (1649–1721) was an American-born merchant and official of the British East India Company, best known for his philanthropic contributions that led to the establishment of Yale University. Yale's connection to India was significant; he served as the Governor of the British East India Company settlement in Madras (now Chennai) from 1687 to 1692. During his tenure, he amassed considerable wealth through trade in textiles, spices, and other commodities. His success in India played a pivotal role in his rise to prominence and afforded him the resources to make substantial donations to educational institutions, including the Collegiate School of Connecticut, which was renamed Yale College in his honor in 1718. Elihu Yale's legacy remains intertwined with both the development of British trade in India and the founding of one of the world's most prestigious universities.[27]

American Revolution, the East India Company, and early America context[edit]

Due to connections between the East India Company and the Thirteen Colonies, many Indians were sent to the latter for slavery or indentured servitude. Today, descendants of such East Indian slaves may have a small percent of DNA from Asian ancestors but it likely falls below the detectable levels for today's DNA tests, as most of the generations since would have been primarily of ethnic African and European ancestry.[28]

Great Britain and France had territories in the Americas as well as the Indian subcontinent. In 1778, when France declared war against Britain, fighting broke out between British and French colonies in India.[29] This marked the beginning of the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Hyder Ali, the Sultan of the Kingdom of Mysore, allied himself with the French. From 1780 to 1783, Franco-Mysorean forces fought in several campaigns against the British in western and southern India, in several places such as Mahé and Mangalore.[30]

On June 29, with both sides weakened, the British dispatched HMS Medea to surrender, with letters to the French stating the American Revolutionary War was over.[31] The Treaty of Paris was drafted on 30 November 1782, months before the Siege of Cuddalore but news did not reach India until seven months later, due to the delay of communications to India. The treaty was finally signed on 3 September 1783 and was ratified by the U.S. Congress a few months later. Under the terms of the treaty, Britain returned Pondicherry back to the French and Cuddalore was returned to the British.[30] The flag of the East India Company is said to have inspired the Grand Union Flag of 1775, ultimately inspiring the current flag of the United States, as both flags were of the same design.[32] Mysorean rockets were also used in the Battle of Baltimore, and are mentioned in "The Star-Spangled Banner", the national anthem of the United States: And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air.[33]

British Army officer Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, who led the British surrender during the Siege of Yorktown, which caused the end of warfare operations in North America during the American Revolution, later went on to serve as Governor-General of India and played a significant role in expanding British control over the subcontinent. His burial site is in the North Indian city of Ghazipur.[34][35]

John Parker Boyd: American officer who served for the Maratha Empire

British American born David Ochterlony (1758–1825) was a British military officer who served in India during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He is perhaps best known for his role in the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–1816, also known as the Gurkha War, where he commanded British and Indian forces against the Gurkha Kingdom of Nepal.

American patriot turned British Army officer Benedict Arnold had a son named Edward Shippen Arnold who fought for the British during campaigns in Bengal.[36][37]

American officer John Parker Boyd partook in the Battle of Kharda, fighting on the side of the Nizam of Hyderabad.[38][39][40]

American Founding Father Aaron Burr had a relationship with an East Indian woman named Mary Emmons, who was most likely from the Indian city of Calcutta. Together, they had two children, including John Pierre Burr.[41][42]

Dudley Leavitt Pickman was an early American trader with India who founded the East India Marine Society.

Fitzedward Hall was the first American to edit a Sanskrit text.[43]

Early American Missionaries[edit]

Adoniram Judson: The first Baptist American Missionary to India

Adoniram Judson was known for being the first American missionary to go abroad. On June 17, 1812, the Judsons arrived in Calcutta. During their journey to India, he delved into a thorough examination of the theology of baptism. His conviction emerged that believer's baptism was not only doctrinally sound but also a crucial act of obedience to Jesus's directive (Matthew 28:19–20).[44]

Charlotte White, daughter of Pennsylvania Judge William Augustus Atlee, holds the distinction of being the first American woman appointed as a missionary and sent to a foreign country. Sponsored by the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. she embarked for Calcutta, India, in December 1815.[45][46]

Other American missionaries to India during the pre-British Raj era include: Lyman Jewett, Samuel B. Fairbank, Nathan Brown, John Welsh Dulles, Luther Rice, Samuel Newell, David Oliver Allen, Cynthia Farrar, Henry Richard Hoisington, Samuel Nott, Harriet Newell, George Warren Wood, Miron Winslow, Gordon Hall, Azubah Caroline Condit, Levi Spaulding, George Bowen, Ann Hasseltine Judson, George Boardman, Jeremiah Phillips, and William Arthur Stanton.

Under British Raj (1858–1947)[edit]

Religious connections[edit]

Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament of Religions with Virchand Gandhi, Hewivitarne Dharmapala, and A. G. Bonet-Maury in September 1893
Margaret Woodrow Wilson, daughter of Woodrow Wilson, left to India for her later life

The relationships between India in the days of the British Raj and the United States were thick.[47] Swami Vivekananda promoted Yoga and Vedanta in the United States at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, during the World's Fair in 1893. Mark Twain visited India in 1896[48] 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.[49] Regarding India, Americans learned more from English writer Rudyard Kipling.[50] Mahatma Gandhi had an important influence on the philosophy of non-violence promoted by American civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s.[51]

Former American Military Officer and later a prominent figure in the spiritual and philosophical movement of Theosophy Henry Steel Olcott, left New York in December 1878 to relocate the headquarters of the Theosophical Society to India. He and the society arrived in Bombay on February 16, 1879. Olcott's objective was to immerse himself in the culture of India, the birthplace of his spiritual inspiration, the Buddha. The Society's headquarters were established at Adyar, Chennai, where Olcott also founded the Adyar Library and Research Centre. He aimed to obtain authentic translations of sacred texts from Buddhist, Hindu, and Zoroastrian religions to provide Westerners with a true understanding of Eastern philosophies, countering Westernized interpretations. Throughout his time in India, Olcott worked tirelessly to bridge the cultural and spiritual gap between East and West. He died in Adyar, Madras on the 17th of February, 1907.[52]

Margaret Woodrow Wilson, the daughter of the 28th U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, became a devotee and member of the ashram of Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry for the remainder of her later life. Wilson changed her name to Nistha, meaning "dedication" in Sanskrit. In 1942, she collaborated with Joseph Campbell, as they undertook the editing of the English translation of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, originally authored by Swami Nikhilananda, a classical work on the Hindu mystic Sri Ramakrishna. This edited version was subsequently published by the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center in New York. She died in Pondicherry on the 12th of February, 1944.[53]

American Missionaries during the British Raj[edit]

During the British Raj, there were multiple American missionaries sent to India, including the well known Scudder family, Ralph T. Templin, James Mills Thoburn, Mary W. Bacheler, James Mudge, J. Waskom Pickett, Edward Winter Clark, Miles Bronson, Samuel H. Kellogg, John Nelson Hyde, Nancie Monelle, Lucy Whitehead McGill Waterbury Peabody, Crawford R. Thoburn, Elwood Morris Wherry, Murray Thurston Titus, Titanic victim Annie Funk, Frederick Bohn Fisher, British Raj born & World War II victim Robert M. Hanson, British Raj born Victor Clough Rambo, Hervey De Witt Griswold, British Raj born Robert Ernest Hume, British Raj born John Lawrence Goheen, British Raj born John William Theodore Youngs, Beatrice Marian Smyth, Anna Sarah Kugler, William H. Wiser, Julia Jacobs Harpster, Charlotte C. Wyckoff, Isabella Thoburn, and American expatriate turned Indian freedom fighter Satyananda Stokes.

The Scudder family was renowned for its multigenerational missionary work in India, particularly in the fields of medicine, education, and Christian evangelism. Led by Dr. John Scudder Sr., who arrived in South Asia in 1819 as one of the first medical missionaries sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), the family established hospitals and dispensaries across the region. Dr. John Scudder Jr. continued this legacy, founding the Arcot Mission in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, and later the Ceylon Mission in Sri Lanka. Notably, Dr. Ida Scudder, granddaughter of Dr. John Scudder Sr., established the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore in 1900, which has since become one of India's leading medical institutions. The Scudder family's enduring commitment to healthcare and education has left a lasting impact on India's social and medical landscape, inspiring generations of missionaries and healthcare professionals.[54]

President Franklin D. Roosevelt[edit]

In the 1930s and early-1940s, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt voiced strong support to the Indian independence movement despite being allies with Britain.[55][56] The first significant immigration from India before 1965 involved Sikh farmers going to California in the early-twentieth century.[57]

Case of Bhagat Singh Thind[edit]

United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind was a landmark legal case in the United States that reverberated through issues of immigration, citizenship, and race. In 1920, Bhagat Singh Thind, an Indian Sikh man, applied for naturalization under the Naturalization Act of 1906, which permitted naturalization only for "free white persons" and "persons of African nativity or descent." Thind contended that his high-caste Indian heritage aligned with the scientific definition of "Caucasian," thereby qualifying him for citizenship."[58]

The case reached the Supreme Court of the United States in 1923. However, the Court unanimously ruled against Thind, asserting that while he might indeed meet the scientific classification of "Caucasian," the term "white person" in the naturalization laws was construed to apply exclusively to individuals of European descent. The Court argued that Congress did not intend for this term to encompass individuals from Asia.

This pivotal decision had far-reaching implications, not only for Thind but for countless other South Asians aspiring for U.S. citizenship. It set a legal precedent that explicitly excluded South Asians from being considered "white" for naturalization purposes, effectively prohibiting their path to citizenship.

Despite the setback, Bhagat Singh Thind remained in the United States, contributing significantly as a lecturer and writer on Sikhism and Indian culture. His perseverance in the face of legal adversity underscores the resilience of marginalized communities in navigating discriminatory legal frameworks.

United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind stands as a significant milestone in U.S. legal history, shedding light on the intricate intersections of immigration, citizenship, and racial identity. It serves as a poignant reminder of the biases entrenched within immigration laws and the complexities of racial classifications in American society.

During World War II[edit]

American G.I.s at a market in Calcutta in present-day Kolkata in 1945

During World War II, 1941–1945, 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 currency; they left in 1945. Serious tension erupted over American demands, led by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that India be given independence, a proposition Churchill vehemently rejected. For years, Roosevelt encouraged British disengagement from India. The American position was based on an opposition to Europeans having colonies and a practical concern for the outcome of the war, and the expectation of a large American role in a post-independence era. Churchill threatened to resign if Roosevelt continued to push his case, causing Roosevelt to back down.[59][60] Meanwhile, India became the main American staging base to fly aid to China. During World War II, the Panagarh Airport in Bengal Province of India was used as a supply transport airfield from 1942 to 1945 by the United States Army Air Forces Tenth Air Force and as a repair and maintenance depot for B-24 Liberator heavy bombers by Air Technical Service Command.[61][62]

Post Independence (1947–1997)[edit]

U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Nehru's sister, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Indian ambassador to the United States, in Washington, D.C. in October 1949
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru receiving U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Parliament House prior to Eisenhower's address to a joint session of Parliament of India in 1959
U.S. ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith (left) and U.S. President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County, Maryland in 1961
U.S. President Richard Nixon at the arrival ceremony for Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the South Lawn of the White House in November 1971
Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai in the Oval Office with U.S. President Jimmy Carter in June 1978


The United States under the Truman administration leaned towards favouring India in the late-1940s as a consequence of most U.S. planners seeing India more valuable diplomatically than neighboring Pakistan.[63] However, during the Cold War, Nehru's policy of neutrality was cumbersome to many American observers. American officials perceived India's policy of non-alignment negatively. Ambassador Henry F. Grady told then-Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that the United States did not consider neutrality to be an acceptable position. Grady told the State Department in December 1947 that he had informed Nehru "that this is a question that cannot be straddled and that India should get on the democratic side immediately".[64] In 1948, Nehru rejected American suggestions for resolving the Kashmir crisis via third party mediation.[65]

Nehru's 1949 tour of the United States was "an undiplomatic disaster" that left bad feelings on both sides.[66] Nehru and his top aide V. K. Krishna Menon discussed whether India should "align with United States 'somewhat' and build up our economic and military strength."[67] The Truman administration was quite favorable and indicated it would give Nehru anything he asked for. Nehru refused, and thereby forfeited the chance for a gift of one million tons of wheat.[68] The American Secretary of State Dean Acheson recognized Nehru's potential world role but added that he was "one of the most difficult men with whom I have ever had to deal."[69] The American visit had some benefits in that Nehru gained widespread understanding and support for his nation, and he himself gained a much deeper understanding of the American outlook.[70]

India rejected the American advice that it should not recognize 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 mediator to help end the war, and served as a conduit for diplomatic messages between the US and China. Although no Indian troops took part in the war, India did send a Medical Corps of 346 army doctors to help the UN side.[71] Meanwhile, poor harvests forced India to ask for American aid for its food security, which was given starting in 1950.[72] In the first dozen years of Indian independence (1947–59), the US provided $1.700,000,000 in aid; including $931,000,000 in food. The Soviet Union provided about half as much in monetary terms, however made much larger contributions in kind, taking the form of infrastructural aid, soft loans, technical knowledge transfer, economic planning and skills involved in the areas of steel mills, machine building, hydroelectric power and other heavy industries, especially nuclear energy and space research.[73] In 1961, the U.S. pledged $1,000,000,000 in development loans, in addition to $1,300,000,000 of free food.[74] To ease the tensions, Eisenhower sent John Sherman Cooper as ambassador in 1956–57. Cooper got along very well with Nehru.[75]

In terms of rhetoric, Jawaharlal Nehru—as both prime minister and foreign minister (1947–64), promoted a moralistic rhetoric attacking both the Soviet bloc and the U.S. and its bloc. Instead Nehru tried to build a nonaligned movement, paying special attention to the many new nations in the Third World released from European colonial status at this time. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles themselves used moralistic rhetoric to attack the evils of Communism.[76]

In 1959, Eisenhower became the first U.S. 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."[77]

During John F. Kennedy's presidency from 1961 to 1963, India was considered a strategic partner and counterweight to the rise of Communist China. Kennedy said,[78]

"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."

Relations took a nosedive when India annexed the Portuguese colony of Goa in 1961, in which the Kennedy administration condemned the armed action of the Indian government and demanded that all Indian forces be unconditionally withdrawn from Goan soil, at the same time, cutting all foreign aid appropriation to India by 25 percent.[79] In response, Menon, now the Minister of Defence, lectured Kennedy on the importance of US-Soviet compromise and dismissed the admonishments of Kennedy and Stevenson as "vestige(s) of Western imperialism".[80] The Kennedy administration openly supported India during the 1962 Sino-Indian war and considered the Chinese action as "blatant Chinese Communist aggression against India".[81][82] The United States Air Force flew in arms, ammunition and clothing supplies to the Indian troops and the United States Navy sent the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier from the Pacific Ocean to India, though it was recalled before it reached the Bay of Bengal since the crisis had passed.[83][84] In a May 1963 National Security Council meeting, the United States discussed contingency planning that could be implemented in the event of another Chinese aggression 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."[85][86] Kennedy's ambassador to India was the noted liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who was considered close to India.[87] While in India, Galbraith helped establish one of the first Indian computer science departments, at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

1965 - 1992[edit]

Following the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, India-US relations deteriorated gradually. While Kennedy's successor Lyndon B. Johnson sought to maintain relations with India to counter Communist China, he also sought to strengthen ties with Pakistan with the hopes of easing tensions with China and weakening India's growing military buildup as well.[88] Relations then hit an all-time low under the Nixon administration in the early 1970s. Nixon shifted away from the neutral stance which his predecessors had taken towards India-Pakistan hostilities. He established a very close relationship with Pakistan, aiding it militarily and economically, as India, now under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, was leaning towards 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.[89] The frosty personal relationship between Nixon and Indira further contributed to the poor relationship between the two nations.[90] During the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, the US openly supported Pakistan and 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 West Pakistani forces.[91] 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.[92][93]

In the late 1970s, with the Janata Party leader Morarji Desai becoming the prime minister, India improved its relations with the US, led by Jimmy Carter, despite the latter signing an order in 1978 barring nuclear material from being exported to India due to India's non-proliferation record.[94]

Despite the return of Indira Gandhi to power in 1980, the relations between the two countries continued to improve gradually, although India did not support the United States in its role in the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Indian Foreign Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao expressed "grave concern" over the United States's decision to "rearm" Pakistan; the two countries were working closely together to counter the Soviets in Afghanistan.[95] The Reagan administration led by US President Ronald Reagan provided limited assistance to India. India sounded out Washington on the purchase of a range of US defence technology, including F-5 aircraft, super computers, night vision goggles and radars. In 1984, Washington approved the supply of selected technology to India including gas turbines for naval frigates and engines for prototypes for India's light combat aircraft. There were also unpublicised transfers of technology, including the engagement of a US company, Continental Electronics, to design and build a new VLF communications station at Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, which was commissioned in the late 1980s.[96]

1993 - 1997[edit]

Under Bill Clinton (President 1993–2001) and P. V. Narasimha Rao (Prime Minister 1991–1996) both sides mishandled relations, according to Arthur G. Rubinoff. Clinton simultaneously pressured India to liberalize its economy while criticizing New Delhi on human rights and nuclear issues. In the face of criticism from Washington and opposition at home, Indian leaders lost their enthusiasm for rapprochement and reverted to formalistic protocol over substantive diplomacy. The Brown Amendment that restored American aid to Pakistan in 1995 was an irritant. In returning to a Cold War style rhetoric, Indian parliamentarians and American congressmen demonstrated their unwillingness to establish a new relationship.[97][98]

NDA I and II governments (1998–2004)[edit]

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with U.S. President Bill Clinton at Hyderabad House in New Delhi in March 2000
Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with U.S. President George W. Bush in New York City in September 2003

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 favor of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the tests. President Bill Clinton 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 aerospace technology and uranium exports to India, and requiring the US to oppose all loan requests by India to international lending agencies.[99] 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.[100] In March 2000, Clinton visited India, undertaking bilateral and economic discussions with Vajpayee. This would mark the first U.S. presidential trip to India since 1978.[101] During the visit, the Indo-US Science & Technology Forum was established.[102]

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.[103] In 2004, the US decided to grant Major non-NATO ally (MNNA) status to Pakistan. The US extended the MNNA strategic working relationship to India but the offer was turned down.[104][105] 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.[100]

UPA I and II governments (2004–2014)[edit]

Indian Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee in the Oval Office with U.S. President George W. Bush in March 2008

During the George W. Bush administration, relations between India and the United States blossomed, primarily over common concerns regarding growing Islamic extremism, energy security, and climate change.[106] George W. Bush commented, "India is a great example of democracy. It is very devout, has diverse religious heads, but everyone is comfortable about their religion. The world needs India".[107] Journalist Fareed Zakaria, in his book The Post-American World, described Bush as "being the most pro-Indian president in American history."[108] Similar sentiments are echoed by Rejaul Karim Laskar, a scholar of Indian foreign policy and ideologue of Indian National Congress – the largest constituent of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). According to Laskar, the UPA rule has seen a "transformation in bilateral ties with the US", as a result of which the relations now covers "a wide range of issues, including high technology, space, education, agriculture, trade, clean energy, counter-terrorism, etc".[109]

After the December 2004 tsunami, the US and Indian navies cooperated in search and rescue operations and in the reconstruction of affected areas.[110] 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. First launched in 2005, cooperation on nuclear weapons reversed three decades of American non-proliferation policy. Also in 2005, United States and India signed a ten-year defense framework agreement, with the goal of expanding bilateral security cooperation. The two countries engaged in numerous and unprecedented combined military exercises, and major US arms sales to India were concluded.[111] An Open Skies Agreement was signed in April 2005, enhancing trade, tourism, and business via the increased number of flights,[112] and Air India purchased 68 US Boeing aircraft at a cost of $8 billion.[113] The United States and India also signed a bilateral Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation in 2005.[114] After Hurricane Katrina, India donated $5 million to the American Red Cross and sent two planeloads of relief supplies and materials to help.[115] Then, on 1 March 2006, President Bush made another diplomatic visit to further expand relations between India and the U.S.[116] The value of all bilateral trade tripled from 2004 to 2008 and continued to grow, while significant two-way investment also grows and flourishes.[117] The political influence of a large Indian-American community is reflected in the largest country-specific caucus in the United States Congress,[118] while between 2009 and 2010 more than 100,000 Indian students have attended American colleges and universities.[119] In November 2010, President Barack Obama visited India and addressed a joint session of the Indian Parliament,[120] where he backed India's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.[121]

Strategic and military determinants[edit]

In March 2009, the Obama administration cleared the US$2.1 billion sale of eight P-8 Poseidons to India.[122] 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, made the US one of the top three military suppliers to India (after Israel and Russia).[123]

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen encouraged stronger military ties between the two nations, and said that "India has emerged as an increasingly important strategic partner [of the US]".[124] US Undersecretary of State William J. Burns also said, "Never has there been a moment when India and America mattered more to each other."[125] The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, during his address to the Asia Society in New York City 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 defense and research organizations.[126]

US Spying Incidents[edit]

India, in July and November 2013, demanded that the U.S. respond to allegations that the Indian UN mission in New York City and the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. had been targeted for spying.[127] On July 2, 2014, U.S. diplomats were summoned by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to discuss allegations that the National Security Agency had spied upon private individuals and political entities within India.[128][129] A 2010 document leaked by Edward Snowden and published by The Washington Post revealed that US intelligence agencies had been authorized to spy on the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (who was then the chief minister of Gujarat).[130][131]

WikiLeaks revelations that Western intelligence agencies have used foreign aid workers and staff at non-governmental organizations as non-official cover prompted India to step-up the monitoring of satellite phones and movement of personnel working for humanitarian relief organisations and development aid agencies in the vicinity of sensitive locations.[132][133]

Foreign policy issues during the early 2010s[edit]

President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Indian delegation at the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue reception at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. in June 2010

According to some analysts,[who?] India–U.S. relations have been strained over the Obama administration's approach to Pakistan and the handling of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.[134][135] India's National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan criticized 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."[136] Foreign Policy in February 2009 also criticized 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.[137] In a clear indication of the 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.[citation needed] 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.[138]

In the early 2010s, India and US governments have differed on a variety of regional issues ranging from America's military relations with Pakistan and India's cordial relations with Russia to foreign policy disagreements relating to Iran, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh.[139][140]

Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, dismissed any concerns over a rift with India regarding American Af-Pak policy. Calling India and the United States "natural allies",[141] Blake said that the United States cannot afford to meet the strategic priorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan at "the expense of India".[142]

India criticized the Obama administration's decision to limit H-1B (temporary) visas, and India's then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee (later, the president of India until 2017) said that India would oppose US "protectionism" at various international forums.[143] India's Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said that India may move against Obama's outsourcing policies at the World Trade Organization.[144]

In May 2009, Obama reiterated his anti-outsourcing views and criticized 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."[145] 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."[146]

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".[147] President Obama appeared briefly at a United States Department of State reception to declare his firm belief that America's relationship with India "will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."[148] 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."[149] It outlined extensive bilateral initiatives in 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.[150]

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 (after Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959) 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.[151][152] Calling the India–U.S. 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.[153]

Devyani Khobragade incident[edit]

In December 2013, Devyani Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General of India in New York, was arrested and accused by U.S. federal prosecutors of submitting false work visa documents and paying her housekeeper "far less than the minimum legal wage."[154] The ensuing incident caused protests from the Indian government and a rift in relations, with outrage expressed that Khobragade was strip-searched and held in the general inmate population.[154] Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that Khobragade's treatment was "deplorable".[155]

India demanded an apology from the U.S. over her alleged "humiliation" and called for the charges to be dropped, which the U.S. declined to do.[156] The Indian government retaliated for what it viewed as the mistreatment of its consular official by revoking the ID cards and other privileges of U.S. consular personnel and their families in India and removing security barriers in front of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.[157]

The Indian government also blocked non-diplomats from using the American Community Support Association (ACSA) club and American Embassy Club in New Delhi, ordering these social clubs to cease all commercial activities benefiting non-diplomatic personnel by 16 January 2014.[158] The ACSA club operates a bar, bowling alley, swimming pool, restaurant, video rentals club, indoor gym and a beauty parlour within the embassy premises.[159][160] Tax-free import clearances given to US diplomats and consular officials for importing food, alcohol and other domestic items were revoked with immediate effect. U.S. embassy vehicles and staff were no longer immune from penalties for traffic violations. American diplomats were asked to show work contracts for all domestic help (cooks, gardeners, drivers and security staff) employed within their households.[161] Indian authorities also conducted an investigation into the American Embassy School.[162][163][164]

Nancy J. Powell, the U.S. ambassador to India, resigned following the incident, which was widely seen by India "as fallout from the imbroglio."[165] Some commentators suggested that the incident and response could lead to wider damage in U.S.–India relations.[166][167] Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha called for the arrest of same-sex companions of US diplomats, citing the Supreme Court of India's upholding of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code whereby homosexuality is illegal in India.[168][169] Former State Department legal advisor John Bellinger questioned whether the decision to arrest and detain Khobragade was "wise policy ... even if technically permissible" under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, while Robert D. Blackwill, the former U.S. ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003, said the incident was "stupid."[170][171] Nevertheless, within a year of the incident, U.S.-India relations were warming again, as U.S. President Obama visited India in January 2015.[165]

Relationship between US Government and Narendra Modi (2001–2014)[edit]

Sectarian violence during the 2002 Gujarat riots damaged relations between the US Government and Narendra Modi, then incumbent chief minister of Gujarat. Human rights activists accused Modi of fostering anti-Muslim violence and persistently violating human rights agreements. New York based non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch, in their 2002 report directly implicated Gujarat state officials in the violence against Muslims.[172] In 2005, the US Department of State used a 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) provision to revoke Modi's tourist/business visa citing section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act.[173] The IRFA provision "makes any foreign government official who 'was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom' ineligible for a visa to the United States". In 2012, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Indian Supreme Court found no "prosecutable evidence" against Modi.[174][175] The Court absolved Modi of any criminal wrongdoing during the riots.

Prior to Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India, the US Government had made it known that Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat would not be permitted to travel to the US. Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center opined that although technically speaking there was no US 'visa ban' from 2005 to 2014, the US government policy of considering Modi as persona non grata had resulted in a de facto travel-ban.[176] After the US revoked his existing B1/B2 visa in 2005 and refused to accept his application for an A2 visa, the US State Department affirmed that the visa policy remained unchanged : "(Mr Modi) is welcome to apply for a visa and await a review like any other applicant".[177][178] Exploring opportunities on how to move the relationship out of a state of morose, Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center of The Heritage Foundation, says that, "the U.S. must first signal its willingness and commitment to collaborating with the new government—and that it will not dwell on the controversy of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which led the U.S. to revoke Modi's visa in 2005."[179] In 2009, the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report[180] after ignoring the views and decision of independent body (SIT) set up by India's highest judiciary[181] vehemently alleged that there was "significant evidence" linking Narendra Modi to communal riots in the state in 2002 and asked the Obama administration to continue the policy of preventing him from travelling to the United States of America .[182][183]

The Obama administration maintained the 2005 decision taken by the George W. Bush administration to deny Narendra Modi entry into the United States of America.[184] The US Government says that Modi can circumvent the USCIRF sanctions regime by visiting Washington on a Heads of government A1-visa as long as he is the Prime Minister of India.[185] According to US State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki : "US law exempts foreign government officials, including heads of state and heads of government from certain potential inadmissibility grounds". The visa refusal came after some Indian-American groups and human rights organizations with political view campaigned against Modi, including the Coalition Against Genocide.[186]

On June 11, 2014, Robert Blackwill, the former Coordinator for Strategic Planning and Deputy US National Security Advisor during the presidency of George W. Bush, spoke at length about India–U.S. relations and said : "Mr Modi is a determined leader. He is candid and frank. I also worked with him during the Gujarat earthquake when I was posted as (the US) ambassador to India. ... It was mistake by the current Obama administration to delay engagement with Mr Modi. I do not know why they did so but definitely, this did not help in building relationship. ... The old formula and stereotypes will not work if the US administration wants to engage with Mr Modi. The Indian prime minister is candid, direct and smart. He speaks his mind. The US administration also has to engage in candid conversation when Mr Modi meets President Obama later this year. They have to do something innovative to engage with him."[187] Nicholas Burns, former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008, has spoken about the visa denial by saying: "Bush administration officials, including me, believed this to be the right decision at the time."[188][189] and has opined that "Now that it looks like Modi will become prime minister, it's reasonable for the Obama administration to say it's been 12 years [since the 2002 riots], and we'll be happy to deal with him"[190]

NDA government (2014–present)[edit]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Barack Obama at Hyderabad House in New Delhi in January 2015

India–United States relations have improved significantly during the Premiership of Narendra Modi since 2014.[191] At present, India and the US share an extensive and expanding cultural, strategic, military, and economic relationship[192][193][194] which is in the phase of implementing confidence building measures (CBM) to overcome the legacy of trust deficit – brought about by adversarial US foreign policies[195][196] and multiple instances of technology denial[197][198][199] – which have plagued the relationship over several decades.[200]

Key recent developments include the rapid growth of India's economy, closer ties between the Indian and American industries especially in the Information and communications technology (ICT), engineering and medical sectors, an informal entente to manage an increasingly assertive China, robust cooperation on counter-terrorism, the deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan relations, easing of export controls over dual-use goods & technologies (99% of licenses applied for are now approved),[201] and reversal of long-standing American opposition to India's strategic program.

Income creation in the USA through knowledge-based employment by Asian Indians has outpaced every other ethnic group according to U.S. Census data.[202] Growing financial and political clout of the affluent Asian Indian diaspora is noteworthy. Indian American households are the most prosperous in the US with a median revenue of US$100,000 and are followed by Chinese Americans at US$65,000. The average household revenue in the USA is US$63,000.[203]

The 2014 State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report appeared to classify the Khobragade incident as an example of human trafficking, stating: "An Indian consular officer at the New York consulate was indicted in December 2013 for visa fraud related to her alleged exploitation of an Indian domestic worker."[204] In response, India has shown no urgency to allow visits to India by the newly appointed US anti-human trafficking ambassador Susan P. Coppedge and the US special envoy for LGBT rights Randy Berry. Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code homosexuality was illegal in India. Indian Ambassador to the US, Arun K. Singh reiterated India's commitment to work within an international framework to tackle the problem of trafficking but rejected any "unilateral assessments" by another country saying "We will never accept it" and downplayed the importance of the visits: "When you ask a U.S. official when somebody will be given a visa, they always say 'we will assess when visa is applied for.' ... I can do no better than to reiterate the U.S. position."[205]

In February 2016, the Obama administration notified the US Congress that it intended to provide Pakistan eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighters and assorted military goods including eight AN/APG-68(V)9 airborne radars and eight ALQ-211(V)9 electronic warfare suites[206][207] despite strong reservations from US lawmakers regarding the transfer of any nuclear weapons capable platforms to Pakistan.[208] Shashi Tharoor, an elected representative from the Congress party in India, questioned the substance of India–U.S. ties: "I am very disappointed to hear this news. The truth is that continuing to escalate the quality of arms available to an irresponsible regime that has sent terrorists to India, and in the name of anti-terrorism, is cynicism of the highest order".[209] The Indian Government summoned the US Ambassador to India to convey its disapproval regarding the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.[210]

Relationship under President Trump (2017-2021)[edit]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Donald Trump at the 45th G7 in Biarritz, France, in August 2019

In February 2017, Indian ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna hosted a reception for the National Governors Association (NGA), which was attended by the Governors of 25 states and senior representatives of 3 more states. This was the first time such an event has occurred. Explaining the reason for the gathering, Virginia Governor and NGA Chair Terry McAuliffe stated that "India is America's greatest strategic partner". He further added, "We clearly understand the strategic importance of India, of India–U.S. relations. As we grow our 21st century economy, India has been so instrumental in helping us build our technology, medical professions. We recognise a country that has been such a close strategic ally of the US. That's why we the Governors are here tonight." McAuliffe, who has visited India 15 times, also urged other Governors to visit the country with trade delegations to take advantage of opportunities.[211]

In October 2018, India inked the historic agreement worth US$5.43 billion with Russia to procure four S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile defence system, one of the most powerful missile defence systems in the world ignoring America's CAATSA act. The U.S. threatened India with sanctions over India's decision to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.[212] The United States also threatened India with sanctions over India's decision to buy oil from Iran.[213] According to the President of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), Mukesh Aghi: "sanctions would have a disastrous effect on U.S.-India relations for decades to come. In India’s eyes, the United States would once again be regarded as untrustworthy."[214] The Trump administration avoided sanctioning India for the Russian S-400 missile system, but sanctioned Turkey and China for the same purchases.[215]

President Trump has grown closer to India's BJP government, which shares the similar right-wing views, he has repeatedly praised Modi's leadership and avoided any negative criticism of the Indian government's actions on the citizenship and Kashmir disputes.[216][217] The Trump administration is consistent with the Modi administration in combating "radical Islamic terrorism",[218] and the US reiterates its support for India's elimination of terrorist training camp in Pakistan.[219][220]

In early 2020, India provided its agreement for terminating an export embargo on a medicinal drug known as hydroxychloroquine amidst the combat against the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after Trump threatened retaliation against India, if it did not comply with terminating the export embargo on hydroxychloroquine.[221][222] In June 2020, during the George Floyd protests, the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Washington, D.C., was vandalised by unknown miscreants on the intervening night of June 2 and 3. The incident prompted the Indian Embassy to register a complaint with law enforcement agencies. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the Indian Ambassador to the United States called the vandalism "a crime against humanity".[223][224] U.S. President Donald Trump called the defacement of Mahatma Gandhi's statue a "disgrace".[225]

On 21 December 2020, President of the United States Donald Trump awarded Modi with the Legion of Merit for elevating India–United States relations. The Legion of Merit was awarded to Modi along with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, the "original architects" of the QUAD.[226][227]

Modi–Biden relationship (2021 onwards)[edit]

US-India ties began to strain in April 2021 when India faced a massive spike in COVID-19 infections. The US had invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 to ban the export of raw materials needed to produce vaccines in order to prioritize domestic vaccine production.[228] According to The Times of India, this also caused an explosion of anti-US sentiment in India, as the U.S. had vaccine reserves and refused to share COVID-19 vaccine patents.[229] This came after a plea by Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, to lift the embargo on export of raw materials needed to ramp up production of COVID-19 vaccines, was rejected.[222] However, in late April, right after a phone call with Ajit Doval, the National Security Advisor of India, the Biden administration stated it would make raw materials necessary for production of the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine available to India, and began to send more than 714 crore (equivalent to 801 crore or US$100 million in 2023) worth of drug treatments, rapid diagnostic tests, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and mechanical parts needed to manufacture vaccines to India, along with a team of public health experts from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The US also stated that it planned to finance the expansion of Biological E. Limited, an Indian-based COVID-19 vaccine production company.[230][231][232][233] India entered negotiations with the US after it declared that it would share 60 million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines with the world.[234]

In 2023, it was reported that India preferred a Trump return to the presidency over Biden's re-election in the 2024 United States presidential election.[235][236]

USS John Paul Jones intrusion[edit]

The USS John Paul Jones off the coast of California in November 2002

On April 7, 2021, The United States Navy guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones sailed through India's Exclusive Economic Zone, without New Delhi's prior consent, then publicly announced the event, causing a diplomatic spat.[237][238] At a time when the United States and India had been deepening relations, such a move had raised eyebrows among the general public in both India and the United States. As per the official statement by the United States Navy's 7th Fleet, "On April 7, 2021 (local time) USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone, without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law". India requires prior consent for military exercises or maneuvers in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law. This freedom of navigation operation ("FONOP") upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging India's excessive maritime claims. The Statement further added, "U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows."[239] The Pentagon defended the 7th Fleet's statement by claiming that the event was consistent with international law.[238]

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs released its statement after much media attention, the statement said, "The Government of India's stated position on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is that the Convention does not authorize other States to carry out in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the continental shelf, military exercises or maneuvers, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state", it further added, "The USS John Paul Jones was continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits. We have conveyed our concerns regarding this passage through our EEZ to the Government of USA through diplomatic channels."[237][240] Former Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Admiral Arun Prakash, commented on the event by tweeting "There is irony here. While India ratified [the] UN Law of the Seas in 1995, the US has failed to do it so far. For the 7th Fleet to carry out FoN missions in Indian EEZ in violation of our domestic law is bad enough. But publicizing it? USN please switch on IFF!". He further tweeted, "FoN ops by USN ships (ineffective as they may be) in South China Sea, are meant to convey a message to China that the putative EEZ around the artificial SCS islands is an 'excessive maritime claim.' But what is the 7th Fleet message for India?"[241][242]

Strengthen cooperation in various fields[edit]

Although there are certain differences over the war in Ukraine, the United States and India have strengthened cooperation in defense, semiconductors, critical minerals, space, climate, education, healthcare and other fields during the Joe Biden presidency.[243] Biden also called the ties with India is "one of the defining relationships of the 21st Century".[244] Modi and Biden reiterated the call for concerted action against all groups identified by the United Nations as terrorist organisations, including Al-Qaeda, ISIS (Daesh), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujhahideen (HuM). Also mentioned the Afghan Taliban authorities and Pakistan should to stop terrorism.[245][246] The joint statement declared that two countries have strong ties spanning "seas to stars".[247]

Spying allegations against India[edit]

In November 2023, it has been reported that US authorities prevented a plot to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh separatist leader of the Khalistan movement, within American borders.[248] Pannun has made threats to bomb the Indian Parliament and Air India flights, is now facing charges related to terrorist activities by India's NIA.[249] United States federal prosecutors have filed charges against Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, alleging his involvement in a conspiracy with an Indian government official to carry out the assassination of Pannun.[250] India has voiced apprehension over the connection of one of its government officials to the plot, distancing itself from the incident as it contradicts government policy.[251]

Military relations[edit]

U.S. and Indian Army soldiers during the opening ceremony of Yudh Abhyas at Joint Base Lewis–McChord in Tacoma, Washington in September 2015
Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey stand in ranks as the Indian Navy frigate INS Satpura pulls alongside during a Malabar naval exercise in April 2012
U.S. soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and Indian Army soldiers of the 6th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment, fire each other's weapons during Yudh Abhyas in September 2015
USAF F-15C Eagles (middle of V formation) from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska fly with IAF SU-30MKI Flankers (rear) and Mirage 2000 aircraft over the Indian landscape during Cope India in 2004, the first bilateral fighter exercise between the two air forces in more than 40 years
Sgt. Balkrishna Dave, an India-born U.S. Army paratrooper explains weapons range safety procedures to Indian Army soldiers before their firing of American machine guns at Yudh Abhyas in May 2013
An Indian Army officer is greeted by a U.S. Army officer at Fort Bragg in Cumberland County, North Carolina in May 2013

The U.S. has four "foundational" agreements that it signs with its defence partners. The Pentagon describes the agreements as "routine instruments that the U.S. uses to promote military cooperation with partner-nations". American officials have stated that the agreements are not prerequisites for bilateral defence co-operation, but would make it simpler and more cost-effective to carry out activities such as refueling aircraft or ships in each other's countries and providing disaster relief.[252] The first of the four agreements, the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), was signed by India and the U.S. in 2002. The agreement enables the sharing of military intelligence between the two countries and requires each country to protect the others' classified information.

The second agreement, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), was signed by the two countries on 29 August 2016. The LEMOA permits the military of either country to use the others' bases for re-supplying or carrying out repairs. The agreement does not make the provision of logistical support binding on either country, and requires individual clearance for each request.[253] The third agreement, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) was signed during the inaugural 2+2 dialogue in September 2018.[254] It is an India-specific variant of Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that enables the two countries to share secure communication and exchange information on approved equipment during bilateral and multinational training exercises and operations. The fourth agreement, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), signed in 2020, permits the exchange of unclassified and controlled unclassified geospatial products, topographical, nautical, and aeronautical data, products and services between India and the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).[255]

Harsh V. Pant, professor of International relations at King's College London, highlighted the importance of India to US strategic planning by saying: "India is key to the US' ability to create a stable balance of power in the larger Indo-Pacific and at a time of resource constraints, it needs partners like India to shore up its sagging credibility in the region in face of Chinese onslaught." Robert Boggs, professor of South Asia Studies at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, opines that the US "overestimates both India's desire to improve the relationship and the benefits doing so would bring".[256]

As part of America's policies to counter China,[257] one of the Trump administration policies are to make India as one of the major defence partners for which it is in talks with Indian representatives to sell highly technologically advanced predator drones.[258] India has floated a tender to buy 100 multi role fighter aircraft in the Indian MRCA competition (also called Mother of all defence deals), worth around US$15 billion under Narendra Modi's Make in India initiative. Although the deal is yet to be finalised in 2018, the Trump administration pushed for sales of advanced F-16 jet fighters,[259] and F/A-18 Super Hornet.[260]

The Indian Army and US Army conducts an annual training practice called Yudh Abhyas since 2002.[261] In June 2015, US defence secretary Ashton Carter visited India and became the first American defence secretary to visit an Indian military command. In December of the same year, Manohar Parrikar became the first Indian defence minister to visit the US Pacific Command.[262] In March 2016, India rejected a proposal by the US to join naval patrols in the South China Sea alongside Japan and Australia. Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said: "India has never taken part in any joint patrol; we only do joint exercises. The question of joint patrol does not arise."[263]

In January 2017, Peter Lavoy, Senior Director for South Asian Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, declared that the partnership between India and the United States under Barack Obama's administration had been "incredibly successful". Lavoy stated, "I can tell you quite definitively that due to our partnerships, several terrorism plots were foiled. Indian lives and American lives were saved because of this partnership."[264][265]

On October 27, 2020, the United States and India signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), enabling greater information-sharing and further defense cooperation, to counter China's growing military power in the region.[266] During the 2+2 ministerial dialogue the last agreement of four so-called “foundational agreements” for sharing sensitive information and sales of advanced military hardware.[267]

On August 16, 2022, US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said that Indian defence attaché now has unescorted access to The Pentagon and he also added that this is commencement with our close relationship with India's status as a major defense partner," and future added that "And if you don't think unescorted access to the Pentagon is a big deal, I can't get into The Pentagon without an escort,".[268]

During Modi's visit in 2023, the US and India agreed that Hindustan Aeronautics would jointly produce GE F-414 jet engines.[269] The two sides also reached an agreement to purchase MQ-9B drones.[243]

Nuclear cooperation[edit]

Pokhran tests[edit]

In 1998, India tested nuclear weapons which resulted in several U.S., Japanese, and European sanctions on India. India's then defence minister, George Fernandes, said that India's nuclear programme was necessary as it provided a deterrence to potential nuclear threats. Most of the sanctions imposed on India were removed by 2001. India has categorically stated that it will never use weapons first but will retaliate if attacked.

The economic sanctions imposed by the United States in response to India's nuclear tests in May 1998 appeared, at least initially, to seriously damage India-US relations. President Bill Clinton imposed wide-ranging sanctions pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act. US sanctions on Indian entities involved in the nuclear industry and opposition to international financial institution loans for non-humanitarian assistance projects in India. The United States encouraged India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) immediately and without condition. The United States also called for restraint in missile and nuclear testing and deployment by both India and Pakistan. The non-proliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries.

Easing of Tension[edit]

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. A succession of non-proliferation dialogues bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries.

In December 2006, the US Congress passed the historic India–United States Civilian Nuclear Agreement|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.

The India–United States Civil Nuclear Agreement also referred to as the "123 Agreement", signed on October 10, 2008, is a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation which governs civil nuclear trade between American and Indian firms to participate in each other's civil nuclear energy sector.[270][271] For the agreement to be operational, nuclear vendors and operators must comply with India's 2010 Nuclear Liability Act which stipulates that nuclear suppliers, contractors and operators must bear financial responsibility in case of an accident.

On March 27, 2019, India and the US signed an agreement to "strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation" including the construction of six American nuclear reactors in India.[272]

Post– 9/11[edit]

India's contribution to the War on Terror has helped India's diplomatic relations with several countries. Over the past few years, India has held numerous joint military exercises with United States and European nations that have resulted in a strengthened US-India and EU-India bilateral relationship. India's bilateral trade with Europe and US has more than doubled in the last five years.

However, India has not signed the CTBT, or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, claiming the discriminatory nature of the treaty that allows the five declared nuclear countries of the world to keep their nuclear arsenal and develop it using computer simulation testing. Prior to its nuclear testing, India had pressed for a comprehensive destruction of nuclear weapons by all countries of the world in a time-bound frame. This was not favoured by the United States and by certain other countries. Presently, India has declared its policy of "no-first use of nuclear weapons" and the maintenance of a "credible nuclear deterrence". The USA, under President George W. Bush has also lifted most of its sanctions on India and has resumed military co-operation. Relations with USA have considerably improved in the recent years, with the two countries taking part in joint naval exercises off the coast of India and joint air exercises both in India as well as in the United States.[273][274][275]

India has been pushing for reforms in the United Nations and in the World Trade Organization with mixed results. India's candidature for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council is currently backed by several countries including Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, African Union nations and United States. In 2005, the United States signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with India even though the latter is not a part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States agreed that India's strong nuclear non-proliferation record made it an exception and persuaded other Nuclear Suppliers Group members to sign similar deals with India.

On March 2, 2006, India and the United States signed the Indo-US Nuclear Pact on co-operation in civilian nuclear field. This was signed during the four days state visit of USA President George Bush in India. On its part, India would separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes, and the civilian programmes would be brought under the safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The United States would sell India the reactor technologies and the nuclear fuel for setting up and upgrading its civilian nuclear programme. The US Congress needs to ratify this pact since US federal law prohibits the trading of nuclear technologies and materials outside the framework of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Economic relations[edit]

The United States is one of India's largest direct investors. From 1991 to 2004, the stock of FDI inflow has increased from US$11 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 now can and do 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. According to the data of the commerce ministry, in 2021–22, bilateral trade in goods between the two countries crossed $119.42 billion. Exports to the US increased to $76.11 billion in 2021-22 from $51.62 billion in previous fiscal year, while imports rose to $43.31 billion as compared to about $29 billion in 2020–21.[276]

Trade relations[edit]

U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a meeting with Indian and American business leaders in New Delhi in March 2006
U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Indian Export Inspection Council officials review a memorandum of understanding on food safety in 2015

The United States is India's largest trading partner since 2021,[276] and India is its 7th largest trading partner.[277] In 2017, the US exported $25.7 billion worth of goods to India, and imported $48.6 billion worth of Indian goods.[278] 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.[279][280]

The United States is also India's largest investment partner, with a direct investment of $10 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.[280] American imports from India amounted to $46.6 billion or 2% of its overall imports, and 15.3% of India's overall exports in 2015. Major commodities exported from India to the US include[281][282] Gems, precious metals and coins, Pharmaceuticals, Oil, Machinery, Textiles (including knit & crochet), Organic chemicals, Vehicles, and Iron or steel products American exports to India amounted to $20.5 billion or 5.2% of India's overall imports in 2015. Major commodities exported from the US to India include:[283][284] Gems, precious metals and coins, Machinery, Electronic equipment, Medical equipment, Oil, Aircraft/spacecraft, Plastics, Organic chemicals, fruits and nuts.

In July 2005, President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh created a new programme called the Trade Policy Forum.[285] 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, which 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 recognizing 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.

On August 3, 2018, India became the third Asian nation to be granted Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) status by the United States. STA-1 enables the export of high-technology products in civil space and defence from the US to India.[286][287] On February 15, 2023, Air India announced an order of 470 jets, out of which 220 jets would be bought from Boeing and the other 250 from Airbus. This is one of the biggest aircraft orders in the commercial jet industry. The deal was acknowledged by both the POTUS and the PMO of India.[288] During Modi's visit in 2023, resolution of six of seven outstanding WTO disputes between the US and India through mutually agreed solutions, market access.[243]

Science and technology[edit]

On January 31, 2023, the US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group (CSJWG) met for the eighth time. The group is a collaboration of space agencies ISRO and NASA. The CSJWG has planned to launch The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission in 2024 which is expected to map Earth using two different radar frequencies to monitor resources like water, forests, and agriculture.[289]

In January 2023, the national security advisors of India and the U.S. announced the launch of the U.S.-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET). Under iCET, both sides will work together in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, advanced wireless technology, space and semiconductor supply chain resilience.[290] India signed the Artemis Accords in 2023, joining 26 other countries working on exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond. And NASA will provide advanced training to ISRO astronauts with the goal of launching a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024.[243]

Role of Indian Diaspora[edit]

The Indian diaspora significantly bolsters Indo-U.S. economic relations through key contributions in technology, entrepreneurship, and academia. Their presence in Silicon Valley and leadership roles in various sectors fosters innovation and collaboration, while their entrepreneurial ventures strengthen economic ties. Additionally, the diaspora serves as a vital link for investments between the two countries, and their involvement in education and research contributes to advancements in science and technology. Beyond economics, the diaspora's cultural initiatives promote understanding and dialogue, further enhancing the overall relationship between India and the U.S.[291]

India-US strategic partnership[edit]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office in September 2014
U.S. and Indian Army soldiers during the opening ceremony of Yudh Abhyas military exercise in November 2022

During the Cold War (1960-1990)[edit]

India-U.S. relations grew strategically in the early 1960s, as the rise of the People's Republic of China worried policymakers in Washington, D.C.. The Chinese government's assertion in Tibet, its role in the Korean War, and other such acts concerned Washington. As relations between India and China were heated during the late fifties, the Americans found a golden opportunity to take advantage of this situation to promote India as a counterweight to China.[292]

Post–Cold War era (1990-2014)[edit]

After the end of the Cold War, Indian and American interests converged in a number of areas, including counter-terrorism, promotion of democracy, counter-proliferation, freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean, and the balance of power in Asia.[292] India emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core US foreign policy interests. India, a 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.[293]

In a meeting between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Atal Bihari 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.[294] 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.[295] 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.[116]

As the world's oldest and largest democracies, respectively, the U.S. and India share historic ties.[296] India is a founding member of the "Community of Democracies"—a prominent endeavor of the United States on promotion of democracy. However, India rejected a suggestion by the USA about setting up a Centre for Asian Democracy.[297]

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the guest of honour at the first state dinner of the administration of US President Barack Obama, which took place on 24 November 2009. Obama later visited India from 6–9 November 2010, signing numerous trade and defence agreements with India. He addressed the joint session of the Indian parliament in New Delhi, becoming only the second US president to do so, and announced that the United States would lend its support to India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, signifying the growing strategic dimension of the relationship between the world's two largest democracies.[298]

After the rise of the BJP (2014-present)[edit]

In 2016, India and the United States signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement[299][300] and India was declared a Major Defense Partner of the United States.[12] During US President Trump's visit to India in 2020, both sides agree to establish “Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership”.[301]

In both the 2017 Doklam standoff and the 2020–2021 China–India skirmishes, the United States provided India with intelligence it possessed, and the two sides discussed the crisis on Ladakh border. The US was also involved in securing the release of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistani custody following the 2019 Balakot airstrike.[302] The US played a role in extinguishing tensions between India and Pakistan in 2019, when Pakistan and India were at the verge of nuclear war, as per the claim of former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo.[303]

The strategic meetings between both countries is called the '2+2' dialogue. Representatives holding Foreign and Defense portfolios, from each of the two countries participate in this meeting. The inaugural 2+2 dialogue between the two nations took place in September 2018 during the Trump Administration. The meeting involved the foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman representing India, while Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis represented the United States. Some of the important agreements like Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) (2018) were signed in these meetings.[304]

On October 27, 2020, US and India signed a military agreement on sharing sensitive satellite data. The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, or BECA, allows the US's strategic partners to access a range of sensitive geospatial and aeronautical data which is useful for military actions.[305] In December 2020, US India Business Council president Nisha Desai Biswal claimed that the ties between the two nations will continue and grow stronger in 2021, as the Biden administration will prioritize their trade deals for a prospering economic relationship.[306] In December 2022, based on BECA, the United States provided real-time location information of the PLA soldiers to help India rout China, during the confrontation in Arunachal Pradesh.[307]

Tensions over Russian relations[edit]

The purchase of S-400 missile system by India, resulted in an imbroglio in the US Congress.[308] Previously, the Trump administration admonished India that it might entice economic sanctions by the United States.[309][310] But since India looms as a counterweight to China, the significance of India is creeping upon the US Senate. Following that, two major Senators John Cornyn from the Republican Party and Mark Warner from the Democratic Party urged president Joe Biden to waive sanctions against New Delhi as it might euthanize the cumulative cooperation with India to maintain the hegemony of the United States of America across the region of South Asia & the Indian Ocean region.[311][312]

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, India abstained on a United Nations resolution showing disapproval of (but not politically condemning) the invasion, saying it was "deeply disturbed" by Russia's invasion. Some experts have also pointed out that the reason for India's abstention is because 70% of Indian arms imports are from Russia, 14% from the US, and 5% from Israel.[313] In a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue on the implications of the crisis for the region, President Biden noted India's abstention, saying that most global allies were united against Russia.[314] Speaking to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US diplomat Donald Lu said the Biden administration was still considering sanctions against India over its S-400 deal with Russia, and its abstention at the UN.[315] On 15 July 2022, the United States House of Representatives passed a legislative amendment that granted India a waiver from CAATSA-related sanctions connected to the purchase of the S-400; however the amendment has yet to be passed by the United States Senate.[316]

While some officials of Ukraine have called for economic sanctions against India over its heavy buying of Russian oil, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried told reporters in February 2023: "We are not looking to sanction India. Our partnership with India is one of our most consequential relationships."[317] In the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian War, the U.S. has ruled out secondary sanctions against India for its considerable oil imports or defence engagement from Russia.[215]

Diplomatic exchanges[edit]

Formal visits by counterparts (2014 onwards)[edit]

Modi's visit to America, 2014[edit]

During the run-off to the 2014 Indian general election, there was wide-ranging scepticism regarding the future of the India–U.S. strategic relationship. Narendra Modi, whose US visa had been revoked while he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had been boycotted by US officials for almost a decade[318] for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.[319] However, sensing Modi's inevitable victory well before the election, the US Ambassabor Nancy Powell had reached out to him. Moreover, following his 2014 election as the Prime Minister of India President Obama congratulated him over telephone and invited him to visit the US.[320][321] US Secretary of State John Kerry visited New Delhi on 1 August to prepare the grounds for Modi's first ever US visit as Prime Minister. In September 2014, days before visiting the US in an interview to CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Modi said that "India and the United States are bound together, by history and culture" but acknowledged that there have been "ups and downs" in relations.[322] Modi travelled to US from 27 to 30 September 2014,[323] beginning with his maiden address in the United Nations general assembly followed by attending a gala public reception by the Indian American community in New York's Madison Square Garden before heading Washington, D.C., for the bilateral talk with Obama. While there, Modi also met several American business leaders and invited them to join his ambitious Make in India program in a bid to make India a manufacturing hub.[324][325][326]

Obama's visit to India, 2015[edit]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C. in June 2016

President Barack Obama became the first US president to be the chief guest of the 66th Republic Day celebrations of India held on 26 January 2015.[327] India and the US held their first ever bilateral dialogue on the UN and multilateral issues in the spirit of the "Delhi Declaration of Friendship" that strengthens and expands the two countries' relationship as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.[328] The conspicuous absence of major announcements, a key indicator of the state of US relations with the host country, led political commentators in both countries to highlight the confidence-building aspects of the visit.[329][330][331]

Modi's visit to America, 2015[edit]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the Silicon Valley and met with entrepreneurs – several of whom are persons of Indian origin – involved in successful microelectronics, digital communications and biotechnology start-ups to promote the NDA government's Make in India initiative.[332] Modi left the U.S. West Coast and travelled to New York for the 2015 UN General Assembly meeting where he had bilateral discussions with US President Barack Obama.

Modi's visit to America, 2016[edit]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while visiting the United States addressed a joint session of Congress highlighting the common traits of both democracies and long-term friendship between the two countries.[333] In a speech lasting more than 45 minutes, Mr. Modi drew on parallels between the two countries and addressed a variety of issues where the two countries have worked together in the past and where the future course of action would lie.[334]

Modi's visit to America, 2017[edit]

On June 26, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the United States and met US President Donald Trump. On 8 November 2017, the US announced a grant of nearly US$500,000 for organisations which came up with ideas and projects to promote religious freedom in India and Sri Lanka.[335]

Modi's visit to America, 2019[edit]

In September 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Houston, where he addressed a large Indian American contingent at NRG Stadium. Along with President Donald Trump, he reaffirmed Indian American ties, with an emphasis on increased military cooperation with the initiation of the Tiger Triumph exercises.[336]

Trump's 2020 visit to India[edit]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifts exemplar of Mahatma Gandhi's three wise monkeys to President Donald Trump in Ahmedabad in February 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Namaste Trump rally in Ahmedabad, in February 2020

On February 24, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump visited Ahmedabad, Gujarat to address a large Indian crowd.[337] The event, titled "Namaste Trump", was a response to the "Howdy Modi" event held in 2019.[338] Attendance of over 100,000 people was reported.[339] The event served as a platform for the U.S. president and the Indian prime minister to show off their friendly relationship.[340]

Trump also visited Agra, Uttar Pradesh and the Taj Mahal on the same day.[341] In Agra, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath welcomed the President and the First Lady. There were 3000 cultural artists showcasing art, cultural & music of various regions.[342] However, political commentators state that Trump's first official visit to India had been overshadowed by the 2020 North East Delhi riots.[343]

Modi's visit to America, 2021[edit]

Modi traveled to US from 22 to 25 September 2021, beginning with his maiden address in the United Nations general assembly before heading Washington, D.C., for the bilateral talk with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. While there, Modi also participated in the Quad Leaders' Summit.

Modi's visit to America, 2023[edit]

Prime Minister Modi traveled to the United States in June 2023.[344] It was Modi's first state visit to the United States, and the second time he has been invited to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress.[345] Modi and President Biden answered questions from reporters at a press conference held in the White House.[346]

Embassies and Consulates[edit]

US Missions in India[347]

  • New Delhi (Embassy)
  • Mumbai (Consulate General)
  • Kolkata (Consulate General)
  • Chennai (Consulate General)
  • Hyderabad (Consulate General)
  • Bengaluru (Consulate, planned)
  • Ahmedabad (Consulate, planned)

Indian Missions in US[348]

  • Washington, DC (Embassy)
  • Atlanta (Consulate General)
  • Houston (Consulate General)
  • Chicago (Consulate General)
  • New York (Consulate General)
  • San Francisco (Consulate General)
  • Seattle (Consulate General)[349]

See also[edit]

Cultural and peoples relations
Foreign relations


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Further reading[edit]

  • Aspen Institute India. The United States and India: A Shared Strategic Future (Council on Foreign Relations, 2011) online
  • Ayres, Alyssa and C. Raja Mohan, eds. Power Realignments in Asia: China, India and the United States (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Barnds, William J. India, Pakistan, and the Great Powers (1972)
  • Brands, H. W. India and the United States: The Cold Peace (1990) online free to borrow
  • Brands, H. W. Inside the Cold War: Loy Henderson and the Rise of the American Empire 1918–1961 (1991) pp 196–230; Loy Henderson was US Ambassador, 1948–51
  • Chary, M. Srinivas. The Eagle and the Peacock: U.S. Foreign Policy toward India since Independence (1995) excerpt
  • Chaudhuri, Rudra. Forged in Crisis: India and the United States since 1947 (Oxford UP, 2014); online; DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199354863.001.0001
  • Clymer, Kenton J. Quest for Freedom: The United States and India's Independence (1995)
  • Fink, Leon. "Siren Song of Economic Development: U.S. Missions to India, 1952–1975" in Fink, Undoing the Liberal World Order: Progressive Ideals and Political Realities Since World War II (Columbia UP, 2022) online pp. 126–162
  • Gopal, Sarvepalli. Jawaharlal Nehru: a Biography Volume 1 1889-1947 (1975); Jawaharlal Nehru Vol. 2 1947-1956 (1979); Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography Volume 3 1956-1964 (2014), detailed coverage of diplomacy
  • Gould, H.A. and S. Ganguly, eds. The hope and the reality: US-Indian relations from Roosevelt to Reagan (1992).
  • Govil, Nitin. Orienting Hollywood: A Century of Film Culture Between Los Angeles and Bombay (NYU Press, 2015)
  • Hart, David M., and Zoltan J. Acs. "High-tech immigrant entrepreneurship in the United States." Economic Development Quarterly (2011) 25#2 pp: 116–129. online
  • Heimsath, C.H. and Surjit Mansingh. A diplomatic history of modern India (1971) online
  • Hilsman, Roger. To move a nation; the politics of foreign policy in the administration of John F. Kennedy (1967) pp 275–357. on 1961–63.
  • Hooper, Jane. Yankees in the Indian Ocean: American Commerce and Whaling, 1786–1860 (Ohio University Press, 2022) online review
  • Isaacs, Harold R. Scratches on Our Minds: American Images of China and India (1958) online
  • Jackson, Carl T. "The Influence of Asia upon American Thought: A Bibliographical Essay." American Studies International 22#1 (1984), pp. 3–31, online covers China, India & Japan
  • Jain, Rashmi K. The United States and India: 1947–2006 A Documentary Study (2007)
  • Karl, David J. "U.S.-India Relations: The Way Forward," Orbis (2012) 56#2 pp 308–327 online
  • Kux, Dennis. India and The United States: Estranged Democracies 1941–1991 (1993)
  • McMahon, Robert J. Cold War on the Periphery: The United States, India and Pakistan (1994) excerpt and text search
  • Madan, Tanvi. "With an eye to the east: the China factor and the US-India relationship, 1949-1979" (PhD dissertation, U Texas 2012). online free
  • Malone, David M., C. Raja Mohan, and Srinath Raghavan, eds. The Oxford handbook of Indian foreign policy (2015) pp 481–94.
  • Merrill, Dennis (1990). Bread and the Ballot: The United States and India's Economic Development, 1947–1963. UNC Press.
  • Mishra, Sylvia. "Forged in Crisis: India and the United States since 1947." Indian Foreign Affairs Journal 9#3 (2014): 301+.
  • Mistry, Dinshaw. Aligning Unevenly: India and the United States (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2016), focus after 2000 online.
  • Pant, Harsh V (2009). "The US-India Nuclear Pact: Policy, Process, and Great Power Politics". Asian Security. 5 (3): 273–95. doi:10.1080/14799850903179012. S2CID 144493366.
  • Raghavan, Srinath. The Most Dangerous Place: A History of the United States in South Asia. (Penguin Random House India, 2018); also published as Fierce Enigmas: A History of the United States in South Asia.(2018 )
  • Rani, Sudesh. "Indo-US Maritime Cooperation: Challenges and Prospects," Maritime Affairs: Journal of the National Maritime Foundation of India, Vol. 8, No. 2, (December 2012) Pages: 123-43 doi:10.1080/09733159.2012.742664
  • Rotter, Andrew J. Comrades at Odds: The United States and India, 1947–1964 (2000)
  • Roy, Dr. P. C. Indo-U.S. Economic Relations. Rajouri Garden, New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1986. 73–125.
  • Schaffer, Teresita C. India and the United States in the 21st Century: Reinventing Partnership (2010)
  • Sharma, G. D. Indo Us Defence Cooperation (Vij Books, 2012), excerpt and text search
  • Sokolski, Henry. United States and India Strategic Cooperation (2010)
  • Vinod, M.J. United States foreign policy toward India (1991)


  • Bajpai, Kanti, Selina Ho, and Manjari Chatterjee Miller, eds. Routledge Handbook of China–India Relations (Routledge, 2020). excerpt
  • Malone, David M., C. Raja Mohan, and Srinath Raghavan, eds. The Oxford handbook of Indian foreign policy (2015) excerpt pp 481–494.
  • Martin, Michael F., et al. "India-U.S. Economic Relations: In Brief" Current Politics and Economics of Northern and Western Asia 24#1 (2015): 99+.
  • Mukherjee, Rohan. "Chaos as opportunity: the United States and world order in India’s grand strategy." Contemporary Politics 26.4 (2020): 420-438 online.
  • Raghavan, Srinath. The Most Dangerous Place: A History of the United States in South Asia. (Penguin Random House India, 2018); also published as Fierce Enigmas: A History of the United States in South Asia.(2018). online review; also see excerpt
  • Rajagopalan, Rajesh. "U.S.-India Relations under President Trump: Promise and Peril." Asia Policy, no. 24 (2017).
  • Rubinoff, Arthur G. "Missed opportunities and contradictory policies: Indo-American relations in the Clinton-Rao years." Pacific Affairs (1996): 499-517 online
  • Talbott, Strobe. Engaging India: Diplomacy, democracy, and the bomb (Brookings Institution Press, 2010). online
  • Tellis, Ashley J. ‘The Surprising Success of the U.S.-Indian Partnership: Trump and Modi Have Deepened Defense Cooperation Against the Odds’. Foreign Affairs 20 (February 2020) online
  • Tellis, Ashley. "Narendra Modi and US–India Relations." in Making of New India: Transformation Under Modi Government (2018): 525-535 online.
  • van de Wetering, Carina. Changing US Foreign Policy toward India: US-India Relations since the Cold War (2016) excerpt

Primary sources[edit]

  • Bowles, Chester (1969). A View from New Delhi: Selected Speeches and Writings, 1963–1969. Yale U.P. ISBN 978-0-300-10546-9., US ambassador 1951–53 and 1963–69; excerpt and text search
  • Bowles, Chester. Promises to Keep (1972), autobiography; pp 531–79 by US ambassador 1951–53 and 1963–69
  • Galbraith, John K. Ambassador's journal: a personal account of the Kennedy years (1969) online, he was US ambassador to India 1961–63
  • U.S. Department of State. Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), many volumes of primary sources; the complete texts of these large books are all online. See Guide to FRUS. For example, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971 was published in 2005 and is online here. The most recent volumes are Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972 (2005) online here and Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume E–8, Documents on South Asia, 1973–1976 (2007) online here.

External links[edit]