Less rhetoric, more substance: India-US relations reach new heights

US President Joe Biden interacts virtually with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the India-US Summit, at the White House in Washington DC on Monday. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III also attended.

Biden will certainly not take any position that would prove contrary to the growing bonhomie of India-US relations.

The recent virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden just before the start of the 2+2 dialogue reflected mutual respect for each other’s perceptions on various issues impacting global peace and stability. It was also a symbolic affirmation and a great message to the rest of the world that Indo-American convergence on relevant strategic areas would be in the global interest, whether fighting Covid-19 or fighting against climate change. India and the United States have come a long way in building mutual ties based on shared values ​​and interests. There has also been continuity in bilateral consultations and dialogue which, in turn, has created a greater degree of trust. There seems to be a remarkable improvement in respecting each other’s views on complex areas of international relations. We can obviously see more substance and less rhetoric in all these exchanges.
The United States increasingly recognizes that India and the United States can together solve global problems. This shows that India has now reached a stage where it can assume the responsibilities of leading global affairs. Overall, India and the United States share the same global concerns. The two leaders acknowledged that the situation in Ukraine is very worrying and can be resolved through dialogue between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine featured prominently in opening remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Modi. Despite India’s reluctance to call Russia by name for its attack on Ukraine, the United States has shown genuine respect for India’s strategic autonomy in the decision-making process. How to deal with the destabilizing effects of the Russian war became the central part of the discussion. India and the United States sailed smoothly during the virtual summit. There were no concrete demands made by the United States, particularly in the context of its expectations of India, and India made no concrete commitments during the exchange. of detailed and candid views.
It is now becoming clear that India and the United States will become the new poles of the post-pandemic world order. It must be emphasized here that China’s desire to become unipolar in Asia in a multipolar world will be too difficult to achieve in the changing dynamics of geopolitics. China’s growing assertion that it will achieve supremacy and primacy in the international system is reflected in its behavior patterns. The rise of India has become a dominant factor in the failure of China’s strategic aspirations. The United States has become aware of the new phenomenon of “the rise of India”.
The United States understands India’s predicament and the deteriorating regional security environment. Recent developments in Sri Lanka and Pakistan also featured prominently during the virtual summit. Pakistan is increasingly part of the regional and global problem. The economic crisis in Sri Lanka is again seen as a case of negligence in understanding the geopolitical and geoeconomic dimension by China’s growing influence and debt-trap diplomacy.
Over the years, a solid foundation has been built in India-US relations with multi-faceted dimensions such as political, economic, strategic, nuclear and diplomatic. The Indo-US strategic engagement has come a long way and is based on the changing dynamics of geopolitics where it seems that the rise of China figures prominently in the current dynamic. The emerging China-Russia strategic equation also remains a factor in understanding the different permutations and combinations.
Biden will certainly not take any position that would prove contrary to the growing bonhomie of Indo-American ties. India and the United States have converged on a number of issues affecting global peace and stability. India is seen as a responsible and potential greater power in the making. Bilateral strategic engagement has placed greater emphasis on this emerging world order.
India has found its own strategic space in dealing with the issue of US sanctions against Russia. The United States has consistently discouraged India from increasing its purchases of Russian energy resources. Whether the impact of US sanctions on Russia will lead to changes in India’s decision-making process always figures prominently in discussions among members of the academic and policy communities. Technically speaking, this has no direct relevance. India currently imports only a mere 1-2% of its energy from Russia according to available official estimates. India does not need to diversify its energy imports.
India’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine is seen as a very positive step by the United States. President Biden praised India’s approach during the virtual summit. During the 2+2 dialogue, it was indicated that the United States would obviously continue its supply of conventional weapons to India. The United States could be an integral part of India’s “Make in India” campaign. India would very much like to move from a net importer of conventional arms to a net exporter of these arms. The Inter-Agency Task Force, part of the Defense Technology and Commerce Initiative (DTTI), has been seriously engaged in identifying the parameters for such defense cooperation. Defense co-production involving critical technologies will remain a challenge, but the US commitment to India is worth mentioning.
It would be in the interests of the United States for the Biden administration to have continuity in its foreign policy orientations toward India. India-US counter-terrorism cooperation has provided good dividends to both sides in achieving containment of threats emanating from terrorism. Military-to-military exercises have gone through a very positive phase in the maritime domain. India’s role in the Indo-Pacific security architecture is going to be vital along with that of the United States. The role of the Indian diaspora in the Biden administration will become dominant in the key policy area. This is why Prime Minister Modi and President Biden have praised the bond between Indians and Americans.
India and the United States together will remain important partners in the evolving global system in general and in the South Asian region in particular. There has been a noticeable wide arc of positive continuity when it comes to defense cooperation between India and the United States. India has been identified as one of the United States’ key defense partners, and convergences on the global and regional security environment have resulted in increasing cooperation in improving and building capabilities. The renaming of US Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command reflects growing recognition of India’s role as an internet security provider in the Indian Ocean region. This has placed more emphasis on maritime cooperation between India and the United States, resulting in both increased defense sales and purchases as well as increased sharing of maritime information to increase maritime domain awareness of India.
As military-to-military engagement across all services and the sophistication of their exercises increase through the implementation of Basic Agreements, it may be incumbent on both nations to create greater synergy in traditional areas of operations. and non-traditional. How the various United States military commands operating across the globe can further engage with the Indian military in different areas will remain a priority issue in times to come. The inclusion of the Australian Navy in the latest Exercise Malabar has added a new dimension to the trilateral arrangement between India, the United States and Japan, and given new weight to the Quadrilateral Security Initiative (Quad ).
India and the United States will face more strategic risks if they do not converge and become proactive in assuming the leadership role in the emerging global order.

Dr. Arvind Kumar is Professor of American Studies and Chairman of the Center for Canadian, American and Latin American Studies at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.