From defense deal to resolving trade dispute, India-US strategic partnership registers rapid growth in 2019

indica News Bureau-


After a successful 2+2 meeting, this month between the US and India, the relation between the two countries has touched new skies in the year 2019. The strengthening of the strategic partnership was reflected in the India-US Joint Statement issued after their second 2+2 dialogue towards the end of the year, which was the key highlight of 2019.

Both countries signed an agreement for technology transfer, especially in the defense sector. Not only the deals but a meeting of leaders – president Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi – meeting a record four times post-May elections, displaying growing ties between the world’s two largest democracies.

However, it is a matter of concern that the two countries could not resolve their long-pending trade disputes or a minor trade deal still eludes them, but this is no longer an irritation in the bilateral relationship and it is most likely that India’s GSP provisions might be restored soon.

Under the new tri-service exercise ‘Tiger Trump’ India orders worth billions of dollars of state of the art military equipment from the US. It will now be an annual affair, signed one more foundational agreement and accelerated the pace of the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

Another important aspect of the relations between the two countries is to dominate China together.

The two countries in the Indo-Pacific region are working with other like-minded partners to ensure that there is freedom of navigation and peace in the resource-rich region where China has been trying to spread its influence.

Recently, the US-supported India’s stand on the Maldives as New Delhi took the lead to ensure that a third country does not interfere in its internal affairs.

On fighting with terrorism, the two countries cooperated this year.

As 40 security personnel were killed in a ghastly terrorist attack in Pulwama in February, the United States was the first country which said that India has the right to self-defend itself, Economic Times reported.

Even as India was in the middle of its election season, the US went ahead, worked with its partner countries like Britain and France to ensure that China lifts its veto hold from designating Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohamad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.

In recent events where India is facing strong criticism for shutting down the internet, violating human rights issues, religious freedom and detention of political leaders in Kashmir, the Trump Administration has refused to put India at par with some of the non-democratic countries on these issues as was the case in the past.

The administration feels that India has a strong civil society, free press, the independent judiciary has enough institutional mechanisms to handle such issues.

Throughout the year, including during the 2+2 dialogue or the 26/11 terror attack anniversary, the US asked Pakistan to take sustained and irreversible actions against terrorist networks operating from its soil.

Historic ‘Howdy, Modi’ event was also a big event to showcase the power of people’s power with a huge crowd of 50,000 Indian-Americans.

The event was attended by top Democratic leaders as well. But, no doubt, the proponents of such a view, led by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and progressive legislatures, do not reflect the view of Democratic Party leadership led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is a die-hard supporter of India-US relationship.

However, certainly in the months to come, the bitter domestic political divide is likely to widen these initial cracks in this bipartisan support that the India-US relationship has enjoyed over the last two decades, at least since the Clinton Administration and continued through the successive two administrations of presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.

But for this sour note, the India-US strategic relationship progressed at a much faster pace than in any three years of the Trump Administration.

While differences continued to exist on the way forward in Afghanistan, the White House kept New Delhi in the loop on its peace initiatives. Bitter from its past experiences, the Trump Administration did not fall into the trap or rhetoric of Pakistan.

As reflective in its statements, either in the public or before Congressional committees, the Trump Administration has shown a better understating of India’s position on Kashmir post-August 5.