US and India: A New Page

Cover Story

By Lisa Curtis

If ever there were a time to expect US-India relations to improve, many would say it is now. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to open the economy to private, foreign and domestic investment, improve the GDP growth rate, create jobs for the rapidly growing youth population, and quicken the pace of India’s defence modernisation.

This agenda could facilitate the expansion of US-India ties and open opportunities for the US to draw closer to India, especially on defence and security issues. New Delhi and Washington share many strategic objectives, whether they involve countering terrorism, maintaining open and free seaways, or hedging against China’s rise.

The key for both the countries is to remain focussed on the larger strategic picture, while managing expectations of the day-to-day relationship. The Obama administration and the Modi government should count on irritants arising in the relationship, but they should seek to handle the problems carefully and discreetly in ways that don’t threaten their fundamental strategic understanding.

The BJP’s assumption of power offers an opportunity to revive US-India ties by focussing on building cooperation on defence, security, economic and trade, counterterrorism, and other issues of mutual concern. There may be greater openness to cooperating with the US from BJP leaders, who are not beholden to Leftists opposed to closer US ties in the same way as Congress party.

Many argue that the Obama administration will be too distracted with other foreign policy challenges to focus on its relationship with India. However, the reality is that cooperating with India would likely help the US cope with global challenges, especially when it comes to international terrorism and maintaining a stable balance of power in the Asia Pacific.

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Lisa Curtis

Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow on South Asia in the Asian Studies Centre at The Heritage Foundation.

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    Kenneth Rabpoza, ‘China’s Latest Economic Data Nothing to Cheer About’, Forbes Magazine 2014/07/16 internet edition Parmit Pal Chaudri, Hindustan Times, July 14 2014

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