India-US Ties: Strategic Delineation or Changing Geo-economic Stability

Sweta Basu

May 21, 2020

10 MIN READ

India-US Ties: Strategic Delineation or Changing Geo-economic Stability
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The bilateral ties between India and the United States have taken a new-fangled semblance in the past few weeks. With the changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 crisis, there is a need to maximize the geopolitical and economic interests of nations.

India and the United States realized that they no longer can have the means for neutrality and better look for resistance against fragility in their ties and renewed exorbitance for newer prospects by protecting mutual concerns of benefit.

Given the ongoing health crisis, India exported 50 million hydroxychloroquine tablets, paracetamols, and few other essential drugs to the US for treating the COVID-19 positive patients.

This is being perceived as a major turning point in the Indo-US bilateral relations that has become the “new normal” post the US President Trump’s India visit in February 2020.

As India aimed for economic pursuits along with the reforms of globalization and liberalization, it was evident that the United States and India will have to locate a modus vivendi for profound commitment amongst each other.

As the international mood has been changing concerning the American leadership it is interesting to note India’s position concerning the same. This article, therefore, looks at the Indian reassessment of its relationship with the United States by revitalizing the newer dynamics of cooperation.

Conventional Alliance

The end of the Cold War saw a drastic change in the international structural placement. India too emerged as an ideologically different country with economic liberalization post-Cold War and exhibited its nuclear ambition following the reluctance to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty that further changed the Indian identity from a third world country to a developing one.

However, with the US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in the year 2000, the bilateral relations between India and the US started thawing.

As India aimed for economic pursuits along with the reforms of globalization and liberalization, it was evident that the United States and India will have to locate a modus vivendi for profound commitment amongst each other.

The US taking away India’s “developing status” to terminating preferential trade progress under the Generalized System of Preferences, has been a bone of contention between the two countries.

The rudimentary peace negotiations concerning the Indo-Pacific for ensuring freedom of navigation, are means for the US to avert Chinese and Iranian ambitions.

On one hand, trade tensions have inflated after the US shelved a lawsuit in 2018 against India for receding exports but on the other hand, the significance of Indian diaspora and people to people contacts played a major role in enhancing diplomatic ties as was noticeable when the US President Donald Trump appointed Indians in his administration offering them distinguished positions like Nikki Haley as the US Ambassador to United Nations or Raj Shah as a member of his cabinet’s Deputy Assistant and Research Director.

The India-US relations have warmed up over the past two decades but with growing congruence in challenges arising from terrorist activities radiating from Pakistan both the countries are trying to check the concern.

During the 2+2 dialogue held in Washington, the US asked Pakistan to grip perpetual actions against debouching terrorist activities from their soil. This had direct implications on India as well.

The rudimentary peace negotiations concerning the Indo-Pacific for ensuring freedom of navigation, are means for the US to avert Chinese and Iranian ambitions.

China has long been trying to exert her influence in the Indo-Pacific but India retaliated by advising the forces to prepare against Chinese foray in the Indian Ocean Rim. The US is equally optimistic about India and its aim to create a new institutional configuration to Quad, through the security dialogue.

It is tantalizing for the two nations now to resort to a zero-sum approach rather than an aggressive one while catering to foreign policy imperatives.

India’s firm stand on the Maldives for helping them to come out of its economic debts was also supported by the United States since the Maldives has major pending debts owing to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

New Synergies

While President Trump did express his displeasure at the way China had handled the spread of the virus, he praised India for coming out with the anti-malarial drug (hydroxychloroquine) and called it a game-changer in combatting the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. India equally exhibited its humanitarianism and utilitarianism and sent immediate medical help to the US by exporting the drugs in huge quantities.

Conversely, India also imported medical devices from the US such as the COVID-19 test kits which according to the Indian ambassador, Taranjit Singh Sandhu was the display of India-US full strength in partnership to combat COVID-19.

Such an acclamation implicates that perspectives change along with vision and this partnership will benefit both countries at large.

Currently, with the highest percentage of death toll following a huge number of COVID-19 positive patients, the US is concerned with containing its reputation worldwide as well as equally engaging in productive relations and reap tactical advantages which further aims to deepen the India-US relations.

The US and India having expertise in biomedical research and technology, are aspiring to cooperate in discovering a vaccine. India’s supply of essential drugs made the US realize India’s affirmative global supply chains and they might conclude a limited trade deal.

Following this, the US announced a grant of an additional USD 3 million to India for combatting the emerging challenges of the coronavirus outbreak followed by the US’s offer of around 200 ventilators for India’s assistance to treat the COVID-19 infected patients.

This is another evidence of the emerging strong coordination between the two countries enabling the US to further consider India as their closest ally and vice versa.

These instances are nothing but strong grounds for harnessing friendly relations that indicate a new venture of engagements further opening channels of geo-economic partnerships.

Earlier the US had mentioned that India’s Intellectual Property Rights regulation and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement was not boosting trade transactions but in the current scenario, it is evident that through joint ventures, India’s textile and pharmaceutical industry is prospering after the signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) and states of North and South Carolina, by taking Indian investors in the textiles sector.

The crucial sectors of oil, civil aviation, and defense might take a back seat but new opportunities have emerged following the textile and pharmaceutical sectors where joint investments could be made to derive benefits.

Such initiatives pave the way that India and the US are looking ahead to play effective roles by adopting global governance initiatives, as at the recent G-20 virtual meet, both the nations hinted to move towards multilateralism by implying effective collaboration through multilateral institutions.

Way Forward

It is tantalizing for the two nations now to resort to a zero-sum approach rather than an aggressive one while catering to foreign policy imperatives.

Barack Obama, the former US President had mentioned that India-US relationship will focus on determining the avenues of cooperative partnership in the 21st century despite the American administration’s regression from multilateralism and adoption of a transactional approach towards bilateral ties.

This is much along the lines of the current way in which India-US ties are prospering. However, new engagements are flourishing despite frictions.

The crucial sectors of oil, civil aviation, and defense might take a back seat but new opportunities have emerged following the textile and pharmaceutical sectors where joint investments could be made to derive benefits.

The two countries must work for ensuring adequate production and supply of medical equipment through enhanced protocols of channelization and also focus on collaborating the Indian strength of fiber to fabric and America’s technological superiority to extract amenable advantages.

However, the onus is also on India as to how it will play the cards by delineating new prospects in the international arena of development and stability following the period of a global pandemic especially in the context of its changed vision evident through the NAM policy.

(The writer is a Research Intern with NIICE)

(Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE), Nepal’s independent think tank, and Khabarhub — Nepal’s popular news portal — have joined hands to disseminate NIICE research articles from Nepal)

Just In

0