Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

Incentives for furthering the India-US partnership are stronger than ever


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-US relations

Changing geopolitical factors have accelerated further the deepening of India-US ties. The article analyses the current circumstances and evolution of the bilateral relations.

Background against which 2+2 dialogue taking place

  • The 2+2 dialogue between India and the United States in Delhi this week marks an important moment in bilateral relations.
  • The 2+2 dialogue comes just three weeks after the foreign ministers of the Quad — or the Quadrilateral Security Framework — met in Tokyo.
  • It also takes place amidst a profound structural shift in great power politics as well as turbulence in the international economic order intensified by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The dialogue follows India’s first-ever participation in a meeting of the exclusive Five Eyes grouping that facilitates intelligence-sharing among the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
  • A few days ago, Delhi announced the much-awaited expansion of the annual Malabar exercises to include Australia.

Background of the past engagements

  • Signing the historic civil nuclear initiative ended India’s prolonged atomic isolation in the world laid the outline of a broader framework for security cooperation.
  • Due to the deep divisions within the national security establishment, the leadership and some political constraints faced by the government, the coalition broke up.
  •  The focus was on keeping visible distance from the US in the name of non-alignment, strategic autonomy, and the quest for a multipolar world.
  • The relationship survived those years, thanks to the US’s perseverance.

3 Factors responsible for rapid progress in the US-India ties

1) Chines aggression on northern border

  • The huge military crisis on the northern borders with China that is well into the sixth month is the first factor.
  • In the past, India avoided closer security ties with the US in deference to Beijing’s sensitivities.
  • In contrast, the government now has refused to pay heed to Chinese sensitivities over its policy on security cooperation with the US.

2) Disruption caused by the corona pandemic

  • The coronavirus has sharpened the US debate on the dangers of excessive economic interdependence on China.
  • Meanwhile, India has begun to reduce its commercial ties to Beijing in response to the PLA’s Ladakh aggression.
  • This has created the conditions for a new conversation between India and the US on rearranging global supply chains away from China.
  • So, the Quad Plus conversations have drawn in Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam with a view to rearrange the global supply chain.

3) Focus on critical technologies

  • Third factor is critical technologies like artificial intelligence that promise to transform most aspects of modern life — including security, political economy and social order.
  • Delhi and Washington are now focused on finding ways to collaborate on the critical technologies of the 21st century and work with their partners in setting new global rules for managing them.


As the regional and global order faces multiple transitions, the incentives for Delhi and Washington to sustain and advance India-US partnership are stronger than ever before and will continue into the next administration.

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