Arun Kumar talks to a US expert who says Modi regime offers opportunity to reenergise US-India ties
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) assumption of power offers an opportunity to reinvigorate US-India ties and work together for mutual benefit on areas such as defence, security, trade, and counterterrorism cooperation, according to a US expert.
“Many argue that the Obama Administration will be too distracted with other foreign policy challenges to focus on its relationship with India,” wrote Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the conservative think tank at The Heritage Foundation. “But the reality is that our two countries need each other to cope with these global challenges, especially when it comes to international terrorism and maintaining a stable balance of power in the Asia-Pacific,” she wrote.
“The quality of the Indo-US relationship matters more than the quantity of dialogues,” Curtis wrote in a piece ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to the US at the end of this month.
“Both sides should seek to deepen their interactions and cooperation in a purposeful manner while learning to manage day-to-day irritants that almost certainly will arise,” she suggested.
“India will have to manage a balancing act as it seeks to expand economic opportunity for all its citizens while projecting strength outside its borders and managing border tensions with Pakistan on one side and China on the other,” Curtis wrote.
The Modi government has promised to open the economy to more private investment, improve the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, create jobs for the rapidly growing youth population, and quicken the pace of India’s defence modernisation, Curtis noted.
“If the new government sticks to this agenda, it will present numerous opportunities for expanded Indo-US cooperation on a range of issues,” she wrote.
“New Delhi and Washington share similar strategic objectives, whether they involve countering terrorism, maintaining open and free seaways throughout the Indo-Pacific region, or hedging against China’s rise.”
The area in which the US-India relationship may prosper the most is defence, Curtis said noting that the Modi government has already demonstrated a commitment to the defence sector by raising defence spending 12 percent.
The government’s commitment to raise foreign direct investment caps in the defence sector to 49 percent is also encouraging, she said.
“This should provide greater incentive for US defence companies to invest in India and give them a stake in helping India develop its defence industrial base,” Curtis wrote.