The Potomac and the Ganges are nature’s bountiful gifts. The former is witness to the evolution of modern America just around 240 years. The latter is holy, mystical and emotional to India for over 5000 years. Material wealth and metaphysics, even when disregarded have an immutable, overarching influence in the ways humans deal with each other. Often times diplomacy tend to overlook this in their transactions.
India cannot comprehend the aspect of continuing US aid and support to Pakistan despite all its internal and external transgressions.
Before one gets to read about the, Kerry, India trip, 5th strategic dialogue and the much hyped up US visit of Prime Minister Modi, it is necessary to know the statics, stagnancies, kinetics of flow Up the Potomac and down the Ganges in the context of Indo-US relationship.
- Statics & Stagnancies
South Asia Today
The sub-continent presents an intransigent impasse across sovereignty, security, trade and inter/intra-regional relationships. On the ground, illegal migrations, smuggling of goods, NGO and cultural interactions continue unabated. A notional SAARC now and then inches up to dialogue and some discussion. Yet it is nowhere near bringing in a consensus on acceptable effective changes for the greater good of the region. India and America are at different if not on opposite sides on matters “South Asia”
American awkwardness in the region is never as dire as it is today. Pakistan feels betrayed and let down by US actions. The Bin Laden killing in its own soil by navy seals, The Af-Pak and US led NATO forces contrarian positions in Afghanistan, drone strikes and growing Indo-US cooperation are illustrative examples. Antagonism or ambivalence about America is the prevailing sentiment of the Pakistani people!
India is learning to be silent on the paradoxical US-Pakistan relationship. The failure of Nawaz Shariff, to restrain, the Pakistan Army/ISI, let alone control the former; is becoming, increasingly evident. India cannot comprehend the aspect of continuing US aid and support to Pakistan despite all its internal and external transgressions. Whether there be yet another coup in Pakistan is also an open ended question!
Both sides are aware that the USA would be unwilling or even unable to take any sides in any future regional conflicts.
Divergence in American global interests and India’s regional interests has serious geopolitical implications. Both sides are aware that the USA would be unwilling or even unable to take any sides in any future regional conflicts. This being a considered position by both sides has enabled momentum to maintain tempo of dialogue in their cooperation construct!
The imminent withdrawal of US led NATO forces from Afghanistan, with high probability of a Taliban take over; India-Pakistan imbroglio over anything and everything, possibility of an insidious Chinese influence in a Taliban dominant Afghanistan are realities that have neither answers nor any possibility of dialogue. ISIS inroads in Iraq are stark reminders of what awaits the region. By default or design, Indo-US dialogue on cooperation, seeks to be rather passive on the impending Afghan implosion post, US/NATO military withdrawal.
Liability Clause in Nuclear Bill and WTO Trade facilitation
Both India and the US hold divergent positions and are also unlikely to yield. This would continue to be a black mark in the progressing relationships between the two democracies. Political and commercial considerations are much in play at present for any break through. Both sides do however recognize the importance of continuing dialogue and negotiations.
Indian & American Approaches
Americans like agreements and articulations. Indians love arrangements and adjustments.
The former likes commitment, while latter operates in diffused accountability of a tentative collectiveness in decision making. Both these have their plusses and minuses. This is a tactical static that must be become part of the negotiating calculus.
India too has to realize the strategic, and edge of technology advantage America can add to the already eclectic character of Indian Defense.
National Security & Governance
The military is inherent in American Governance and National Security. The Indian Military is expedient in both internal and external security. It is also stands outside of Governance. A recent example is the aspect of Indo-US military cooperation and the Defense Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI) between both countries. Military cooperation, exercises have increased in scope along with some international dimensions. In more ways than one these have enabled greater understanding between America and India, and have helped FMS sales of $ 9 billion in the last eight years. This is a striking example of a static becoming a flow. On the other hand the DTTI despite being an opportune high velocity positive push by USA virtually stagnates due to differing Indian and American approaches.
Bad & Good News
The bad news is that often times, splinters of these statics pierce the India-US balloon, which is being slowly and steadily being filled up by both sides. The good news of course is a willingness of both democracies to not only stop the leaks but prevent them by moving it out of reach of these elements!
- Kinetics and Flows
The Indian diaspora in the US has made positive inroads into; positions of decision/ influence in the Government, major business houses, financial and commercial entities. USA too is conscious of the objective relationship value add that this brings to the discussion table. India is yet to recognize what this can do towards Indo-US relationships.
The 5th Strategic Dialogue seeks to repair the Indo-US political and business relationship track in preparation and anticipation of Prime Minister Modi’s September US visit. Ground work in; education, defense commerce, energy cooperation is getting more focused attention. The dormant DTTI would be revived and readjusted towards pragmatic possibilities. The visit of Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel would propel the present defense cooperation towards more effective objectives. India too has to realize the strategic, and edge of technology advantage America can add to the already eclectic character of Indian Defense.
America is a technology civilization that can enable India to learn and earn this transformation.
A Defense Technology India American Cooperation (DEFTIAC), NGO, has already been mooted by USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee) and AUSIB (Alliance of US India Business). This in effect would be a ground upwards movement to complement the Top down DTTI thrust. Most importantly, India needs to become a builder’s Military from a buyer’s.
The USA has bandwidth, capability to help it become competently self-reliant, technologically advanced, with combat preparedness. It can also repair and prepare, upgrade its defective and aging assets in a cost effective manner to reduce operational and maintenance hollowness.
India has private and public assets to transition to a Military Industrial complex sooner than later. America is a technology civilization that can enable India to learn and earn this transformation. This footprint can be inclusive of all other countries already in India. There is so much to do by everyone.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s discussions, with government and business leadership also underscore the strategic and commercial value across the span and spectrum of manufacturing, infrastructure, engineering practices and technology exchanges.
India requires more than one iconic personality in the large and long term of its growth and development.
Indo-US partnership on education and skills development to help India’s overall work force capacities and capabilities is another important aspect of cooperation between both nations.
The Indian Ocean is a bridging waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific. The American proposal, carried by Secretary Kerry; to build a South Asia–ASEAN economic corridor by India Japan and USA would bring immense regional strategic and economic benefit. It would also hopefully bring down temperatures in the tensions of the South China Sea. It is also a harbinger for the imminent Indo-Pacific corridor that Washington is pushing for. UK, Russia and China have all expressed interest in building corridors with India. Japan being already in the corridor should also give greater comfort to the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea and Taiwan too in the context of the disputes over the islands in that sea!
- Crystal Ball Gazing
There is tacit support for India to be a member in the modified UN Security Council and for India’s phased entry to the Multilateral Export Control Regimes.
Modi for the present is more a Politi-Icon than a Prime Minister and that too with a “nascent government” still wet behind the ears. That he would bring in a holistic salutary change in India is never in doubt. However he and his team must recognize the imperative need to bring in systems and processes. India requires more than one iconic personality in the large and long term of its growth and development. A systems process would also give Indo-US cooperation, definition direction in a dimensional didactic.
India and America need each other, above and beyond the narrow confines of diplomatic visits and regional geopolitics.
A mutually calibrated mature Indo-US dialogue that takes into account; the statics and stagnancies, their causes and effects, the opportunities of kinetics, for the flow up the Potomac and down the Ganges is the optimal way ahead.
India and America need each other, above and beyond the narrow confines of diplomatic visits and regional geopolitics. Their elevation from present cooperation to several umbrella partnership arrangements within the limits of their Interests and threats is in itself a catalytic process of lessening military conflicts, containing radicalism and, countering terrorism. Consequent collateral advantages of being able to focus more on regional; cooperation, trade/economic development, health, education and improving state of human securities need to be impressed upon the polity of the region.
The flow up the Potomac and down the Ganges is the kinetic that can first meander around the statics and then hopefully overcome them.