Event ReportsPublished on Aug 14, 2015
The shared values that the United States and India hold dear face profound challenges in a number of areas that threaten global security and the international order, according to the US Ambassador to India, Mr. Richard Verma.
Shared values of US, India face profound global challenges, say US Ambassador

The shared values that the United States and India hold dear face profound challenges in a number of areas that threaten global security and the international order, according to the US Ambassador to India Richard Verma.

Delivering a talk on "Protecting our shared spaces" at ORF on 14 August, the Ambassador said that "from emboldened terrorist organisations, to attempts to discredit the principles of democratic governance, to aggressive tactics in the seas and skies, the values that define our open, democratic societies are at risk."

He said that it is clear that the problems and opportunities that confront our countries and the world require a resolute commitment to partner beyond our borders.

"The steps we take should not only focus on tangible, realistic wins that serve our interests today, but on how we can cooperate to uphold our common values and project power for decades to come. What we do together can be a force for greater peace, prosperity and security in the world. Shared spaces offer us a platform to realise this potential. I look forward to your comments and questions," the Ambassador said.

He stated that in the midst of signing MOUs, collaborating on defense initiatives, improving economic cooperation and advancing health priorities, "let us not lose sight of the primary goal of our bilateral cooperation. We work together because the summation of our efforts as "Best Partners" makes our citizens and the world more stable, secure and prosperous."

The Ambassador remarked that as we’ve become used to saying Chalein Saath Saath - "Forward, Together, We Go" - we can now also proclaim that the US and India are "stronger together" when we work together. That much has become crystal clear, he said.

It is the US-India relationship that can help counter the trend of global uncertainty and reinforce the rules-based international order, the Ambassador said. In fact, what the US and India do together has the potential to help underwrite global security and prosperity for the long term. It is for this reason that the US supports India’s aspiration to become what Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar calls a "leading power" instead of a "balancing power." "To realise this goal, our countries will not only have to work together on our bilateral priorities, but partner on global issues to strengthen the rules-based international order, in which India has an important stake," he said.

The Ambassador stated that the US has committed itself to deepening its maritime and security relationship with India. The two nations are well into the planning stages for the 2015 Malabar joint naval exercise, and the US want to see this exercise continue to grow in complexity to better build habits of cooperation among our navies.

Another area where the maritime interests of both countries align is in the dual commitment to counter the use of intimidation or force to assert unfounded territorial or maritime claims, the Ambassador said. Paraphrasing Secretary Kerry, he said that freedom of navigation and overflight are not privileges. They are rights. And these principles bind all nations equally. He pointed out that India has been a leader in showing the world how to peacefully resolve maritime and territorial disputes through international arbitration, as you have done with Bangladesh.

The Ambassador said the pace and scale of cooperation in space too has grown rapidly over a short period of time. He pointed out that NASA and ISRO collaborated on the Chandrayaan Mission to explore the surface of the moon, and on India’s hugely successful Mars Orbiter Mission, which completed its 100th orbit around the red planet last month. That kind of collaboration would have been considered impossible a decade ago, he said. "But we have only scratched the surface of what we can accomplish in space. The opportunities that lie ahead extend as far as space itself", he said.

As space-based activity increases, important questions must be addressed about how to preserve the space environment for future generations. While a general framework has been set by the UN’s Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, there needs to be greater global consensus on how to protect space in the future. This will require Indian and U.S. leadership, he said, adding India and the United States can together advance a vision of what constitutes responsible behavior in space based on transparency and international law.

The Ambassador said the US condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent cross-border terror attacks, and stand with the people of India - and all free people - in fighting this scourge of terrorism, wherever it occurs. He said FBI Director Comey has pledged the full support of his agency and our government in supporting India in its investigation.

The event was chaired by ORF Director Sunjoy Joshi. Welcoming the Ambassador, Mr Joshi said ORF feel rather privileged as we recall our association with Excellency Verma during his stint at the Centre for American Progress where he was heading the India Initiative, when we had the privilege of working with him.

He pointed out India and the US are doing and can do a lot together to build that vital trust in the architecture, the rule making that goes into defending the global commons. We believe in the vitality of these Commons for the free flow of information and trade for the health of our economies depends upon these.

Joshi noted that, on Cyberspace, Washington has already indicated its support for the ambitious Digital India programme in the Joint Declaration of Intent to further bilateral cooperation. India and the US have made clear their awareness of the threats to national security and the economy from cyber activities. He said "we at ORF are putting together a platform in consultation with the two governments that would help further an ambitious partnership and we are delighted that the US Government will be a headline partner of the CyFy - which is ORF’s flagship cyber and internet event".

Joshi said that he is confident that under the leadership of Ambassador Verma, India and US have begun to capitalise on some of the opportunities and that "we at ORF do assure him that we will continue to be strong supporter of this partnership."

C. Raja Mohan, Head, ORF Strategic Affairs Programme, ORF, gave the vote of thanks.

Text of US Ambassador’s speech

Welcome remarks by ORF Director

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