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India’s relations with USA

RAS/RTS Prelims and Mains Exam Preparation

India’s relations with USA

India-U.S. bilateral relations have developed into a “global strategic partnership”, based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues. The emphasis placed by the Government in India on development and good governance has created opportunity to reinvigorate bilateral ties and enhance cooperation under the motto — “Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go”, and “Sanjha Prayas, Sab ka Vikas” (Shared Effort, Progress for All) adopted during the first two summits of Prime Minister Modi and President Obama in September 2014 and January 2015 respectively. The summit level joint statement issued in June 2016 called the India-U.S. relationship an “Enduring Global Partners in the 21st Century.

Regular exchange of high-level political visits has provided sustained momentum to bilateral cooperation, while the wide-ranging and ever-expanding dialogue architecture has established a long-term framework for India-U.S. engagement. Today, the India-U.S. bilateral cooperation is broad-based and multi-sectoral, covering trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, high-technology, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment, agriculture and health. Vibrant people-to-people interaction and support across the political spectrum in both countries nurture our bilateral relationship.

Political Relations

The frequency of high-level visits and exchanges between India and the U.S. has gone up significantly of late. Prime Minister Modi visited the U.S. on 26-30 September 2014; he held meetings with President Obama, members of the U.S. Congress and political leaders, including from various States and cities in the U.S., and interacted with members of President Obama’s Cabinet. He also reached out to the captains of the U.S. commerce and industry, the American civil society and think tanks, and the Indian-American community. A Vision Statement and a Joint Statement were issued during the visit.

The visit was followed by President Obama’s visit to India on 25-27 January 2015 as the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day. During the visit, the two sides issued a Delhi Declaration of Friendship and adopted a Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. Both sides elevated the Strategic Dialogue between their Foreign Ministers to Strategic and Commercial Dialogue of Foreign and Commerce Ministers.

Prime Minister Modi again visited the U.S. on 23-28 September 2015, during which he held a bilateral meeting with President Obama, interacted with leaders of business, media, academia, the provincial leaders and the Indian community, including during his travel to the Silicon Valley. In 2016, Prime Minister visited the U.S. for the multilateral Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Obama in Washington D.C. on 31 March-1 April. This was soon followed by an official working visit by Prime Minister on 6-8 June, during which he held bilateral discussions with President Obama, and also addressed a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress. Prime Minister Modi was the sixth Indian Prime Minister to address the U.S. Congress.

There is frequent interaction between the leadership of the two countries, including telephone calls and meetings on the sidelines of international summits. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi have spoken thrice over phone since the former’s election in November 2016. A hotline has been established between the Prime Minister’s Office and the U.S. White House.

India-U.S. Dialogue Architecture

There are more than 50 bilateral dialogue mechanisms between the two governments. The first two meetings of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue at the level of EAM and MoS (Commerce & Industry) were held in Washington DC in September 2015 and New Delhi in August 2016. This apex-level dialogue has added a commercial component to the five traditional pillars of bilateral relations on which the erstwhile Strategic Dialogue of Foreign Ministers had focussed, namely: Strategic Cooperation; Energy and Climate Change, Education and Development; Economy, Trade and Agriculture; Science and Technology; and Health and Innovation. The second meeting of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue took place on 30 August 2016 in New Delhi. In addition, there are Ministerial-level dialogues involving home (Homeland Security Dialogue), finance (Financial and Economic Partnership), commerce (Trade Policy Forum), HRD (Higher Education Dialogue), Science & Technology (Joint Commission Meeting on S&T) and energy (Energy Dialogue).

Major Exchanges in 2015, 2016 and 2017

There were a number of high-level delegations in both directions in 2015. In January, Secretary of State John Kerry led the U.S. delegation to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Ahmedabad. In February, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew visited India for the fifth meeting of the Economic and Financial Partnership Initiative with our Finance Minister. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited India in April for meeting with his counterpart Ministers in India. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter paid a bilateral visit to India in June. From the Indian side, Finance Minister and MOS (IC) for Environment, Forests & Climate Change visited Washington DC in April, the former for the Spring meeting of the IMF/World Bank and the latter for the Major Economies’ Forum meeting. Finance Minister again visited the U.S. in June to promote Investment into India. External Affairs Minister and MOS (IC) for Commerce & Industry co-chaired the first meeting of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue with their U.S. counterparts in Washington DC in September. MOS (IC) for Power held the Energy Dialogue with his U.S. counterpart in September in Washington DC. MOS (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy also attended the Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum 2015 hosted by Secretary of State Kerry in Washington DC in October. MOS (IC) for Commerce & Industry held the 9th meeting of the Trade Policy Forum with the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington DC in October. Raksha Mantri visited the U.S. at the invitation of his U.S. counterpart in December 2015. Chief Minister of Haryana led a delegation of the State government in August. There have been numerous visits of parliamentarians and senior officials in both directions.

Major Ministerial visits in 2016 included Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu in January, Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley in April, Minister for Urban Development Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari, and Minister of State (IC) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan in July, Raksha Mantri Shri Manohar Parrikar in August, Minister for S&T and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in September and Finance MinisterShri Arun Jaitley in October (from India to the U.S.) and U.S. Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter twice —in April and December, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in August and U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman in October (from the U.S. to India). In addition, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (August), Shri. Raghubar Das, Chief Minister of Jharkhand (September), Shri Chandra Sekhar Rao, Chief Minister of Telangana(September) and Shri Raman Singh, Honorable Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh (November/December) visited the U.S. promote investment in their states.

In 2017, the high-level exchanges have continued. Minister of State(I/C) Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan visited Houston and Washington DC in Marchand met US Energy Secretary Mr. Rick Perry. Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley visited the U.S. in April for the IMF-WB meeting and met with his U.S. counterpart. National Security Adviser and Foreign Secretary have visited the U.S. in March and interacted with a wide cross-section of top U.S. policymakers. From the U.S. side, NSA H.R. McMaster visited India in April.

Strategic Consultations

There have been regular contacts at political and official levels on bilateral, regional and global issues. Foreign Office Consultations, at the level of Foreign Secretary of India and U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs, are an important part of the dialogue structure. The last round of Foreign Office Consultations was held in New Delhi in April 2015. A new High-level Consultation between Foreign Secretary of India and the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State was launched in September 2015, and has met twice since then, in December 2015 in New Delhi and July 2016 in Washington D.C.. A Policy Planning Dialogue has also been started between the two sides in September 2015.

There have been regular contacts at political and official levels on bilateral, regional and global issues. Foreign Office Consultations, at the level of Foreign Secretary of India and U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs, are an important part of the dialogue structure. The last round of Foreign Office Consultations was held in New Delhi in April 2015. A new High-level Consultation between Foreign Secretary of India and the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State was launched in September 2015, and has met twice since then, in December 2015 in New Delhi and July 2016 in Washington D.C.. A Policy Planning Dialogue has also been started between the two sides in September 2015.

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