Strengthening India-US Relations
Highlights: Key Takeaways
PM Modi’s visit to the United States from 21 to 24 June 2023 was a significant milestone in the bilateral relations between India and the US. It marked the third time an Indian leader received the honor of a state visit, emphasizing the friendly ties between the two sovereign states. This visit holds even more significance as President Biden had only hosted two other leaders before Modi, highlighting the remarkable transformation of India-US relations over the past twenty-five years.
The visit took place amidst the US confrontation with Russia due to the Ukraine war and growing concerns over Beijing’s disruptive activities. Although discussions about China were on the agenda, the visit aimed to deepen ties between the world’s two largest democracies, rather than leverage India as a counterweight to China.
Building Stronger Partnerships
The visit began in New York, where PM Modi commemorated the Ninth International Yoga Day at the UN headquarters. This event showcased India’s soft power and the global popularity of Yoga as a cultural export. The following day, in Washington DC, President Biden warmly welcomed Modi at the White House. The leaders held a historic summit, reaffirming their commitment to a “Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.” Modi also had the rare honor of addressing a joint session of the US Congress for the second time.
Technology: A Key Driver of Partnership
Technology emerged as a crucial aspect in shaping the future course of India-US relations. The “Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology” (ICET) framework was established to facilitate technology sharing, co-development, and co-production opportunities between businesses and academic institutions. Collaboration between NASA and ISRO in human spaceflight is set to take place by the end of 2023, with joint efforts planned for the International Space Station in 2024. Additionally, an MOU was signed for the semiconductor supply chain, accompanied by a significant investment of $825 million by Micron Technology Inc to establish a new semiconductor assembly in India. Applied Materials Inc also committed $400 million to establish a collaborative engineering center. Both countries launched joint task forces to promote secure telecommunications, digital inclusion, and advancements in ‘Quantum Information Science and Technology.’ Agreements were signed for collaboration in the fields of AI and atomic energy.
Strengthening Defence Partnership
Several key agreements were signed to enhance the defence partnership between India and the US. These agreements focused on strengthening defence industrial cooperation, streamlining the implementation of foundational agreements, information sharing, maritime security, and initiating dialogues in space and AI domains. The establishment of the ‘India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem’ (INDUS-X) will facilitate joint defence technology development and co-production of advanced technologies.
Notably, a landmark agreement was reached between General Electric (GE) and Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) for the manufacture of GE F-414 engines for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK 2. This agreement will enable a greater transfer of jet engine technology. India’s procurement of 31 General Atomics MQ 9B armed UAVs, to be assembled domestically, will significantly enhance the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces. Furthermore, India’s ship repair capabilities received a boost with the signing of ‘Master Ship Repair Agreements’ with local shipyards, further solidifying its position as a hub for the maintenance and repair of US Navy assets in the region.
Strategic Convergence and Shared Concerns
Both sides emphasized the importance of a rule-based international order, respecting the sovereignty, and territorial integrity of states. The leaders expressed deep concern over the Ukraine conflict and called for greater efforts to mitigate its repercussions. Comprehensive United Nations reforms were advocated, with President Biden reiterating US support for India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council (UNSC). The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Quad and stressed the significance of an open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region while expressing concerns over rising tensions. They also condemned the ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and reiterated their commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
PM Modi’s visit to the US underscored the strengthening of India-US relations across various domains. The focus on technology collaboration, defence partnership, and shared strategic goals demonstrates the growing significance of this bilateral relationship in shaping global dynamics.