How India and the United States Are Building a 21st-Century Partnership
The ties between our two countries will help create prosperity and ensure security for billions of people.
Five years ago, President Barack Obama declared the U.S.-India relationship one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. Acknowledging this unique bond and its transformative potential, our two countries inaugurated a Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) this week. The S&CD is a new mechanism to broaden and deepen U.S.-India cooperation on a range of critical bilateral, regional, and global issues and focus increased attention on the significant role of economics and commerce in our bilateral ties.
The world is experiencing huge social, economic and security challenges that the United States and India are uniquely positioned to address — but only together. Our two large, market-oriented democracies have already demonstrated an ability to work together to protect diversity in the face of sweeping social change; tackle regional challenges, old and new; and cooperate to increase the prosperity and security of our citizens.
The launch of the S&CD is an important step toward realizing our leaders’ shared vision of a stronger and more comprehensive U.S.-India relationship. In an effort to support India’s integration into global supply chains, we have injected new energy into efforts focused on improving India’s ease of doing business, infrastructure development, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and standards collaboration. Progress in each of these areas will create new opportunities for American businesses and deepen our relationship with a critical strategic partner.
We also brought together our respective private sectors in a reinvigorated U.S.-India CEO Forum, during which our business leaders offered input and recommendations on issues that are critical to the economic partnership. Their priorities include improving India’s business climate, smart cities and infrastructure financing, supply-chain integration, aerospace and defense, and renewable energy. Input from U.S. and Indian business leaders will continue to inform our policymaking discussions as we work toward our leaders’ shared goal of increasing U.S.-India trade fivefold, to $500 billion annually.
Efforts to expand our economic partnership go hand-in-hand with our work to strengthen the U.S.-India relationship in a number of priority areas, including promoting stability, health, and prosperity around the globe. U.S. and Indian researchers are teaming up to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. In March, our joint research helped to launch the world’s cheapest vaccine against rotavirus, potentially saving millions of lives. Across the African continent, our development experts are partnering to increase agricultural productivity, boost farmer incomes, and reduce malnutrition. Last spring, our militaries and aid workers together delivered humanitarian relief following Nepal’s devastating earthquake. And just last month, our governments led more than 20 other countries from Africa to Southeast Asia in pledging to end preventable maternal and child deaths.
We are collaborating beyond the confines of sovereign boundaries into the borderless domains of cyberspace and outer space — discussing norms of responsible state behavior, increased cybersecurity cooperation, and a multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance to better realize an open, secure, and reliable cyberspace. NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization are increasingly working together, including on the future exploration of Mars.
Climate change also transcends borders and economic status. Indeed, it represents a monumental test of global leadership. Every country has a responsibility to step up because every country is at risk. Our two are working more closely than ever before to confront this threat.
India’s strategic location at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region also presents challenges and opportunities. Rooted in common values of democracy, pluralism, and free enterprise, our two nations serve as champions of the rules-based international order for that region. We both recognize that peace, prosperity, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region can only be secured by connected economies, freedom of navigation and overflight, and a rules-based architecture where maritime and territorial disputes are settled amicably.
On the high seas, our navies are partnering to promote maritime security across the Indo-Pacific region. This year, we began working together on aircraft carrier technology and design. Our annual joint naval exercise, Malabar, continues to grow in complexity, with the United States, India, and Japan participating this year in the Indian Ocean — a region that accounts for nearly half of global seaborne trade.
Beyond partnering to address bilateral, regional, and global challenges, our people continue to bring us closer together. More than 1 million Americans traveled to India in 2013, and more than 100,000 Indian students studied in the United States during the past academic year. The Indian diaspora has also made enormous contributions to every facet of American society, contributing its talents and ingenuity at the tech start-ups of Silicon Valley, the lecture halls and labs of premier educational institutions, the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, and the corridors of power in Washington and in state capitols across the country.
The United States and India share so much — democratic principles, common values, and aspirations for our citizens to live economically secure and peaceful lives. We are committed to improving this partnership at every level to achieve those aspirations.
Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images
Correction, Sept. 24, 2015: An earlier version of this article included two high-ranking members of the Indian government as co-authors. Their bylines have been removed.