Event ReportsPublished on Aug 11, 2015
Grouped under key issues, the just released publication titled 'The Strategic Rationale for Deeper U.S- Indian Economic Ties' by Dr Ashley Tellis and Dr C. Raja Mohan examines the strategic rationale for expanding U.S-Indian economic integration.
The Strategic Rationale for Deeper U.S- Indian Economic Ties

The US-India relationship was often distant during the cold war, but the partnership is now critical for both countries’ strategic aims. India is important for the U.S. efforts to maintain its international primacy, while United States is essential to India’s attainment of its great power ambitions. Deepened economic intercourse, including one through a comprehensive U.S-Indian free-trade agreement, is vital to realising both countries’ aspirations, said Dr. Ashley J. Tellis and Dr. C. Raja Mohan at the release of their book titled "The strategic Rationale for Deeper U.S-Indian Economic Ties" at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, on August 7, 2015.

Grouped under key issues, in this publication, Dr Ashley Tellis and Dr C. Raja Mohan has examined the strategic rationale for expanding U.S-Indian economic integration, which would not only increase the economic vitality of the United States and India, but would benefit their strategic aims as well. The chapters of the book explore these strategic aims for deepening bilateral economic ties from an American and an Indian Perspective respectively.

Highlighting the American viewpoint, Dr. Ashley Tellis argues that in the present era, the strengthening of the U.S. - Indian economic ties is anchored in the fundamental geopolitical task facing the United States which is the task of protecting of its hegemony in the world politics. Stating the importance of strong partnership with the countries of the Asian continents, Dr. Ashley Tellis observed that a strong India with its capacity to grow in power provides a balance in Asia-Pacific and therefore it is critical to the interests of Unites States. India with its capability to project its power provides for one of the most important pillars of balancing the rise of China. Therefore from U.S point of view, the idea of strong India cannot be optional if U.S wishes to protect its own position.

Therefore, in his chapter he highlights the importance of trade and commerce which can further accelerate the partnership between the two countries. Hence, a bilateral free-trade agreement eventually, represents in this context an idea which will create a productive symbiosis between the economies of the world’s oldest and the largest democracies. The arrangement will accelerate the integration of the capital and technology rich United Sates with labor rich India. This would increase India’s growth rates and United States capacity to innovate and compete globally.

To reinforce Washington’s global primacy and advance Indian national development, regional hegemony and international prominence, Mr. Amitabh Kant, Secretary DIPP, made some key observations. Highlighting the importance of economic ties which is vital for India’s integration with the West, Mr. Kant pointed that India must grow rapidly at a rapid growth of 9-10 % for atleast three decades. For this, India needs to take several measures to ease its business environment and simplify its rule and regulations to encourage more investment inflows from America. Further he emphasized on the unique strength of India’s high technology and low cost frugal engineering in defense manufacturing sectors which needs to be explored. Also India’s integration into the global value chains is seen vital for India’s growth and partnership with United Sates by Mr. Kant. Concluding his statement, he said that a concentrated effort to open its economy and sectors by India and resolving issues of visas, social security and Intellectual Property Rights by America is important for strengthening the bilateral ties between New Delhi and Washington.

The event proceeded by providing the Indian perspective of the India-U.S relation. Dr. Mohan reviewed the evolution of India’s worldview and its relationship with the United States over the past several decades. What followed from the discussion was the strategic rationale at the legacy of the British Raj which has helped New Delhi’s contemporary geopolitics and led the framework for a long-term strategic and economic cooperation between India and the west. According to him, the estrangement between the Indian national movement and the west during World War II had complicated the structuring of the regional balance in various parts of Asia and Indian Ocean during the cold war decades. However, the shift from inward oriented policies of India toward the 1991 economic liberalization and globalization had altered the framework of engagement with the United States.

Deliberating on the evolution of U.S-Indian relations, the author also observed the regional security politics involving Pakistan and China, which have had the strong influence on the evolution of Indian perspective of the United States and the crystallization of America’s definitive place in India’s strategic vision. Arguing further, he states that Russia’s inability to consolidate a democratic reform of governance and the reluctance of China to embrace political pluralism makes the construction of a deeper economic partnership between India and the United States a critical imperative. Dr. Raja Mohan concluded that the US-Indian partnership cannot be rooted only in a political and security partnership but has to found in a strong economic partnership.

Observing the role of leaders in bringing the relationship at a trajectory, journalist Maya Mirchandani highlighted upon the renewed enthusiasm of Mr. Modi who has got India to shed its traditional inhibitions on moving forward with the United States. However, she also raises a question on the role of domestic politics which victimizes the relationship from becoming successful. To which, Dr. Ashley added that a successful relationship requires the alteration in the view point of societies and economies. Therefore meeting the long term interest of both the countries will require a consolidated efforts to bring in innovative approaches of bridging the structural differences and finding solution such that the leaders does not have to make the extraordinary efforts to push the relationship in certain direction , observed, Dr. Mohan.

The event concluded with an open-ended discussion and suggestions which further explored the rationale for U.S-India ties.

(This report is prepared by Richa Sekhani, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

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