Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

New horizon of India-U.S. ties


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-U.S. relations and area of cooperation

The article explores the area of cooperation for India and the U.S. under a new administration in U.S. amid changing geopolitical realities.

China: Shared cause of concern

  • The Biden administration’s approach to India will be shaped by its position towards China.
  • There is a bipartisan change in the US’s attitude to China.
  • The Biden administration will continue Trump administrations trade policy- reducing the trade deficit, ensuring a level-playing field, keeping a keen eye on technology rivalry etc.
  • There are parallels in the concerns of India and the U.S. — invigorating the domestic economy and dealing with a rising rival.
  • These concerns can translate into opportunities for both countries.

How India and U.S can convert concerns into opportunities

1) Cooperation in healthcare

  • Healthcare is clearly an area that India can play up in bilateral relations.
  • The two countries can also work with multilateral agencies across the spectrum of vaccine (including Covid vaccine) development, logistics and distribution.
  • India produces around 20 per cent of the global requirement for generic drugs by volume and every third tablet of generics consumed in the US.
  • The President-elect has indicated his commitment to providing better and affordable healthcare
  • This could be an opportunity for the Indian pharma sector to play a role in reducing health costs of the American consumer.
  • India can benefit from advancements in medical technologies, devices, new medicines and R&D capabilities, presenting opportunities for American companies.

2) Job creation through trade and exports

  • Biden has set an ambitious target for US-India trade.
  • Businesses in both countries are also looking for diversifying their manufacturing supply chains.
  • This portends well for the creation of employment in manufacturing.
  • An area where strategic considerations and imperatives of job creation converge is defence, especially since India has been designated a Major Defence Partner of the US.

3) Focus on infrastructure in both countries

  • For the US, this can mean opportunities in India in transportation, power and other urban amenities.
  • The US’s renewed focus on climate change should lead to greater cooperation with India in energy-related areas.
  • Cooperation in energy-related areas includes more efficient energy dissemination and management (such as smart grids) to renewable energy technologies.

4) Enhance opportunities in 5G tech

  • There is potential to enhance mutual opportunities in the 5G tech sector.
  • Increased partnership between the two nations can accelerate the development of technology solutions, promote vendors in the 5G open ecosystem and drive economic growth.
  • The two countries should engage in shaping the rules of a new order in this space.
  • This also has an important strategic element when seen in the light of developments in the Indo-Pacific as well as China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

5) Multilateralism for cooperation in wider areas

  • Once the Biden administration assumes office, we should expect the U.S.’s return to multilateralism.
  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership aimed to create a rules-based order that all parties could subscribe to.
  • With the ascendancy of the Indo-Pacific paradigm and the Quad and Quad Plus, a successor to the TPP could include a wider canvas.
  • For India, this could mean cooperation beyond defence and security, including economics, technology and developments pertaining to the regional order.


Both countries should treat the economic and commercial dimension with as much priority as the strategic dimension. Both governments should embrace the prosperity-creating potential of such an approach.

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