With India-US relations stronger than ever since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two countries have become drivers of growth across the region and around the world, according to a senior US official
“If there is one overarching positive trend that is driving the energy and optimism across South Asia, it is the resurgence of India,” Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, told a Congressional panel Tuesday.
This was “evidenced by their vibrant election last year, which was the largest such democratic exercise in history, she said testifying on “The US Rebalance in South Asia: Foreign Aid and Development Priorities.”
Asserting that less than one year after Modi’s election as Prime Minister US “relations with India are stronger than ever,” Biswal said President Barack Obama’s historic Republic Day visit was critical beyond its symbolism.
She listed “important outcomes in four key areas – advancing our strategic partnership, deepening our security cooperation, revitalizing the economic partnership, and advancing critical clean energy and environmental goals.
“As we have energised bilateral relations with the new Indian government, there can be no doubt about the strength of our joint strategic vision,” Biswal said.
“Our two countries are indispensable partners in promoting peace, prosperity, and stability across the Indo-Pacific region,” she said.
“We are drivers of growth across the region and around the world. And we are net providers of security, together ensuring freedom of navigation and safeguarding the maritime domain,” Biswal said.
The US, she said, supported “India’s economic rise, including its domestic economic transformation” because for “India to be a strong partner in the region and around the world, it must be strong at home.”
So Obama and Modi had agreed to “elevate our commercial and economic partnership as part of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue to advance our shared prosperity.”
Biswal said the US was optimistic that the many challenges to creating the investment climate and innovation economy that will power India’s growth in the 21st century can be overcome.
Modi and Obama, she noted had agreed that the two “countries will continue to work together on our ambitious energy and environment goals by renewing and expanding a five-year MOU on Energy Security, Clean Energy, and Climate Change.”
They also committed to work together towards a successful climate agreement in Paris and pledged to work toward the goal of phasing down hydrofluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol, Biswal said.
US assistance programmes in India are a model for making “a little go a long way,” she said noting “by leveraging the private sector and Indian resources, we are getting sizable outcomes out of small inputs.”
“Our programmes connect to India’s public and private sectors to jointly achieve development gains in a cost-effective manner in India and in third countries, where India’s achievements stand to jump-start development results,” Biswal said.
“This model of assistance – which positions India as a development lab with global reach – combines US and Indian innovation and best practices, which can be road-tested and refined in India and then exported to developing countries in Africa and Asia,” she said.
In keeping with both US and Indian priorities, the USAID programme focuses on four key areas: health, energy and environment, education, and food security, Biswal said.
“With nearly 2 billion people, a growing middle class, an entrepreneurial culture, and a resurgent Indian economy, South Asia will play an increasingly important role in the Asian growth story,” she said.