India–United States relations
|Indian Embassy, Washington, D.C.||U.S. Embassy, New Delhi|
|Indian Ambassador |
U.S. Ambassador |
Prominent leaders of India's freedom movement had friendly relations with the United States of America which continued well after independence from Great Britain in 1947. In 1954, United States of America made Pakistan a Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) treaty-ally. India cultivated strategic and military relations with the Soviet Union to counter Pakistan–United States relations. In 1961, India became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement to avoid involvement in the Cold War power-play between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Nixon administration's support for Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 affected relations until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the 1990s, Indian foreign policy adapted to the unipolar world and developed closer ties with the United States.
In the 21st century, Indian foreign policy has sought to leverage India's strategic autonomy in order to safeguard sovereign rights and promote national interests within a multi-polar world. Under Presidents Bush and Obama, the United States has demonstrated accommodation to India's core national interests and acknowledged outstanding concerns.
Increase in bilateral trade & investment, cooperation on global security matters, inclusion of India in decision-making on matters of global governance (United Nations Security Council), upgraded representation in trade & investment forums (World Bank, IMF, APEC), admission into multilateral export control regimes (Nuclear Suppliers Group, MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group) and joint-manufacturing through technology sharing arrangements have become key milestones and a measure of speed and advancement on the path to closer US-India relations. In 2016, India and United States signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement and India was declared a Major Defense Partner of the United States.
According to Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, India is perceived by Americans as their 6th favorite nation in the world, with 71% of Americans viewing India favorably in 2015. A 2017 poll by Gallup found that 74% of Americans viewed India favorably.
In the year 2017 bilateral trade (in both goods & services) grew by 9.8% to reach US$126.1 billion. India's exports to the US stood at US$77.3 billion while USA's exports to India stood at US$48.8 billion
The relationships between India in the days of the British Raj and the US were thin. Swami Vivekananda promoted Yoga and Vedanta in America at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, during the World's Fair in 1893. Mark Twain visited India in 1896 and described it in his travelogue Following the Equator with both revulsion and attraction before concluding that India was the only foreign land he dreamed about or longed to see again. Regarding India, Americans learned more from English writer Rudyard Kipling. Mahatma Gandhi had an important influence on the philosophy of non-violence promoted by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s.
In the 1930s and early 1940s the United States gave very strong support to the Indian independence movement in defiance of the British Empire. The first significant immigration from India before 1965 involved Sikh farmers going to California in the early 20th century.
World War II
Everything changed in World War Two, when India became the main base for the American China Burma India Theater (CBI) in the war against Japan. Tens of thousands of American servicemen arrived, bringing all sorts of advanced technology, and money; they left in 1945. Serious tension erupted over American demands, led by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that India be given independence, a proposition Prime Minister Winston Churchill vehemently rejected. For years Roosevelt had encouraged Britain's disengagement from India. The American position was based on principled opposition to colonialism, practical concern for the outcome of the war, and the expectation of a large American role in a post-colonial era. However, in 1942 when the Indian National Congress launched a Quit India movement, the British authorities immediately arrested tens of thousands of activists. Meanwhile, India became the main American staging base for aid to China. Churchill threatened to resign if Roosevelt pushed too hard, so Roosevelt backed down.
America under the Truman administration leaned towards favouring India in the late 1940s as a consequence of most U.S. planners seeing India more valuable diplomatically than its neighbour Pakistan. However, during the Cold War Nehru's policy of neutrality was cringeworthy to many American observers. American officials perceived India's policy of non-alignment negatively. Ambassador Henry F. Grady told then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that the United States did not consider neutrality to be an acceptable position. Grady told the State Department in December 1947 that he had informed Nehru "that this is a question that cannot be straddled and that India should get on the democratic side immediately.
In 1948, Nehru rejected American suggestions for resolving the Kashmir crisis via third party mediation. His 1949 tour of the US was "an undiplomatic disaster" that left bad feelings on both sides. India rejected the American advice that it should not recognise the Communist conquest of China, but it did back the US when it supported the 1950 United Nations resolution condemning North Korea's aggression in the Korean War. India tried to act as a broker to help end that war, and served as a conduit for diplomatic messages between the US and China. Meanwhile, poor harvests forced India to ask for American aid for its food security, which was given starting in 1950. In the first dozen years of Indian independence (1947–1959), the US provided $1.7 billion in aid, including $931 million in food. The Soviet Union provided about half as much in monetary terms, however made much larger contributions in kind, taking the form of infrastructural aid, soft loans, technical knowledge transfer, economic planning and skills involved in the areas of steel mills, machine building, hydro-electric power and other heavy industries especially nuclear energy and space research. In 1961, the US pledged $1.0 billion in development loans, in addition to $1.3 billion of free food.
In 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first US President to visit India to strengthen the staggering ties between the two nations. He was so supportive that the New York Times remarked, "It did not seem to matter much whether Nehru had actually requested or been given a guarantee that the US would help India to meet further Chinese Communist aggression. What mattered was the obvious strengthening of Indian-American friendship to a point where no such guarantee was necessary."
During John F. Kennedy's Presidency (1961–63), India was considered a strategic partner and counterweight to the rise of Communist China. Kennedy said,
"Chinese Communists have been moving ahead the last 10 years. India has been making some progress, but if India does not succeed with her 450 million people, if she can't make freedom work, then people around the world are going to determine, particularly in the underdeveloped world, that the only way they can develop their resources is through the Communist system."
The Kennedy administration openly supported India during the 1962 Sino-Indian war and considered the Chinese action as "blatant Chinese Communist aggression against India". The United States Air Force flew in arms, ammunition and clothing supplies to the Indian troops and the United States Navy even sent the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier from the Pacific Ocean to protect India, only to recall it back before it reached the Bay of Bengal. In a May 1963 National Security Council meeting, the United States discussed contingency planning that could be implemented in the event of another Chinese attack on India. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor advised the president to use nuclear weapons should the Americans intervene in such a situation. Kennedy insisted that Washington defend India as it would any ally, saying, "We should defend India, and therefore we will defend India." Kennedy's ambassador to India was the noted liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who was considered close to India. While in India, Galbraith helped establish one of the first Indian computer science departments, at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. As an economist, he also presided over the (at the time) largest US foreign aid program to any country.
Following the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, Indo-US relations deteriorated gradually. While Kennedy's successor Lyndon Johnson sought to maintain relations with India to counter Communist China, he also sought to strengthen ties with Pakistan with the hopes of easing tensions with China and weakening India's growing military buildup as well. Relations then hit an all-time low under the Nixon administration in the early 1970s. Richard Nixon shifted away from the neutral stance which his predecessors had taken towards Indo-Pakistani hostilities. He established a very close relationship with Pakistan, aiding it militarily and economically, as India, now under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, was seen as leaning towards the Soviet Union. He considered Pakistan as a very important ally to counter Soviet influence in the Indian subcontinent and establish ties with China, with whom Pakistan was very close. The frosty personal relationship between Nixon and Indira further contributed to the poor relationship between the two nations. During the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, the US openly supported Pakistan and even deployed its aircraft carrier USS Enterprise towards the Bay of Bengal, which was seen as a show of force by the US in support of the beleaguered West Pakistani forces. Later in 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test, Smiling Buddha, which was opposed by the US, however it also concluded that the test did not violate any agreement and proceeded with a June 1974 shipment of enriched uranium for the Tarapur reactor.
In the late 1970s, with the anti-Soviet Janata Party leader Morarji Desai becoming the Prime Minister, India improved its relations with the US, now led by Jimmy Carter, despite the latter signing an order in 1978 barring nuclear material from being exported to India due to India's non-proliferation record.
Despite the return of Indira Gandhi to power in 1980, the relations between the two countries continued to improve gradually, although India did not support the United States in its role in the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The Reagan Administration provided limited assistance to India. India sounded out Washington on the purchase of a range of US defence technology, including F-5 aircraft, super computers, night vision goggles and radars. In 1984 Washington approved the supply of selected technology to India including gas turbines for naval frigates and engines for prototypes for India’s light combat aircraft. There were also unpublicised transfers of technology, including the engagement of a US company, Continental Electronics, to design and build a new VLF communications station at Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, which was commissioned in the late 1980s. However, it was not until the late 1990s that there was a significant effort by both countries to improve relations with each other.
NDA government (1998–2004)
Soon after Atal Bihari Vajpayee became Indian Prime Minister, he authorised nuclear weapons testing at Pokhran. The United States strongly condemned this testing, promised sanctions, and voted in favour of a United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning the tests. President Bill Clinton imposed economic sanctions on India, including cutting off all military and economic aid, freezing loans by American banks to state-owned Indian companies, prohibiting loans to the Indian government for all except food purchases, prohibiting American aerospace technology and uranium exports to India, and requiring the US to oppose all loan requests by India to international lending agencies. However, these sanctions proved ineffective - India was experiencing a strong economic rise, and its trade with the US only constituted a small portion of its GDP. Only Japan joined the US in imposing direct sanctions, while most other nations continued to trade with India. The sanctions were soon lifted. Afterward, the Clinton administration and Prime Minister Vajpayee exchanged representatives to help rebuild relations.
India emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core US foreign policy interests. India, a dominant actor in its region, and the home of more than one billion citizens, is now often characterised as a nascent Great Power and an "indispensable partner" of the US, one that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to the growing clout of China.
In March 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton visited India, undertaking bilateral and economic discussions with Prime Minister Vajpayee. During the visit, the Indo-US Science & Technology Forum was established.
Over the course of improved diplomatic relations with the Bush Administration, India agreed to allow close international monitoring of its nuclear weapons development, although it has refused to give up its current nuclear arsenal. In 2004, the US decided to grant Major non-NATO ally (MNNA) status to Pakistan. The US extended the MNNA strategic working relationship to India but the offer was turned down.
After the September 11 attacks against the US in 2001, President George W. Bush collaborated closely with India in controlling and policing the strategically critical Indian Ocean sea lanes from the Suez Canal to Singapore.
UPA I & II governments (2004–2014)
During the tenure of the George W. Bush administration, relations between India and the United States were seen to have blossomed, primarily over common concerns regarding growing Islamic extremism, energy security, and climate change. George W. Bush commented, "India is a great example of democracy. It is very devout, has diverse religious heads, but everyone is comfortable about their religion. The world needs India". Fareed Zakaria, in his book The Post-American World, described George W. Bush as "being the most pro-Indian president in American history." Similar sentiments are echoed by Rejaul Karim Laskar, a scholar of Indian foreign policy and ideologue of India's Congress Party- the largest constituent of the UPA. According to Laskar, the UPA rule has seen a "transformation in bilateral ties with the US", as a result of which the relations now covers "a wide range of issues, including high technology, space, education, agriculture, trade, clean energy, counter-terrorism, etc".
After the December 2004 tsunami, the US and Indian navies cooperated in search and rescue operations and in the reconstruction of affected areas.
Since 2004, Washington and New Delhi have been pursuing a "strategic partnership" that is based on shared values and generally convergent geopolitical interests. Numerous economic, security, and global initiatives - including plans for civilian nuclear cooperation - are underway. This latter initiative, first launched in 2005, reversed three decades of American non-proliferation policy. Also in 2005, the United States and India signed a ten-year defence framework agreement, with the goal of expanding bilateral security cooperation. The two countries engaged in numerous and unprecedented combined military exercises, and major US arms sales to India were concluded. An Open Skies Agreement was signed in April 2005, enhancing trade, tourism, and business via the increased number of flights, and Air India purchased 68 US Boeing aircraft at a cost of $8 billion. The United States and India also signed a bilateral Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina, India donated $5 million to the American Red Cross and sent two planeloads of relief supplies and materials to help. Then, on 1 March 2006, President Bush made another diplomatic visit to further expand relations between India and the U.S.
The influence of a large Indian-American community is reflected in the largest country-specific caucus in the United States Congress, while between 2009-2010 more than 100,000 Indian students have attended American colleges and universities.
Between 2004 and 2014 Western think-tanks, especially in the US and UK, failed to foresee the swing in electoral voting patterns of the growing middle-class and anticipate the scale of political change in India brought about by improvements in basic education and freedom of the press. According to Michael Kugelman, South and Southeast Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, the US was unprepared to meet new challenges in India because of its "inability to keep pace with the transformations."
Strategic and military determinants
In March 2009, the Obama Administration cleared the US$2.1 billion sale of eight P-8 Poseidons to India. This deal, and the $5 billion agreement to provide Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft and General Electric F414 engines announced during Obama's November 2010 visit, makes the US one of the top three military suppliers to India (after Israel and Russia). Indians have raised concerns about contract clauses forbidding the offensive deployment of these systems. India is trying to resolve performance-related issues on the Boeing P-8I that have already been delivered to India.
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen has encouraged stronger military ties between India and the United States, and said that "India has emerged as an increasingly important strategic partner [of the US]". US Undersecretary of State William Joseph Burns also said, "Never has there been a moment when India and America mattered more to each other." The Deputy Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, during his address to the Asia Society in New York on August 1, 2012, said that India–US relationship has a global scope, in terms of the reach and influence of both countries. He also said that both countries are strengthening the relations between their defence and research organisations.
Revelations about US spying operations against India
On 2 July 2014, U.S. diplomats were summoned by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to discuss allegations that the National Security Agency had spied upon private individuals and political entities within India. A 2010 document leaked by Edward Snowden and published by the Washington Post revealed that US intelligence agencies had been authorised to spy on the Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi.
WikiLeaks revelations that Western intelligence agencies have used foreign aid workers and staff at NGOs as non-official cover prompted the Government of India to step-up the monitoring of satellite phones and movement of personnel working for humanitarian relief organisations and development aid agencies in the vicinity of sensitive locations.
Foreign policy issues
According to some analysts, India-US relations have been strained over the Obama administration's approach to Pakistan and the handling of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. India's National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, criticised the Obama administration for linking the Kashmir dispute to the instability in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and said that by doing so, President Obama was "barking up the wrong tree." Foreign Policy in February 2009 also criticised Obama's approach to South Asia, saying that "India can be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem" in South Asia. It also suggested that India take a more proactive role in rebuilding Afghanistan, irrespective of the attitude of the Obama Administration. In a clear indication of growing rift between the two countries, India decided not to accept a US invitation to attend a conference on Afghanistan at the end of February 2009. Bloomberg has also reported that, since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the public mood in India has been to pressure Pakistan more aggressively to take actions against the culprits behind the terrorist attack, and that this might reflect on the upcoming Indian general elections in May 2009. Consequently, the Obama Administration may find itself at odds with India's rigid stance against terrorism.
India and US governments have differed on a variety of regional issues ranging from India's cordial relations with Iran and Russia to foreign policy disagreements relating to Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, dismissed any concerns over a rift with India regarding American AfPak policy. Calling India and the United States "natural allies", Blake said that the United States cannot afford to meet the strategic priorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan at "the expense of India".
India criticised the Obama Administration's decision to limit H-1B (temporary) visas, and India's then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee (later, the President of India until 2017) said that his country would oppose US "protectionism" at various international forums. India's Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, said that India may move against Obama's outsourcing policies at the World Trade Organization. However, the outsourcing advisory head of KPMG said that India had no reason to worry, since Obama's statements were directed against "outsourcing being carried out by manufacturing companies" and not outsourcing of IT-related services.
In May 2009, Obama reiterated his anti-outsourcing views and criticised the current US tax policy "that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York." However, during the US India Business Council meeting in June 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advocated for stronger economic ties between India and the United States. She also rebuked protectionist policies, saying that "[United States] will not use the global financial crisis as an excuse to fall back on protectionism. We hope India will work with us to create a more open, equitable set of opportunities for trade between our nations."
In June 2010, the United States and India formally re-engaged the US-India Strategic Dialogue initiated under President Bush when a large delegation of high-ranking Indian officials, led by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, visited Washington, D.C. As leader of the US delegation, Secretary of State Clinton lauded India as "an indispensable partner and a trusted friend". President Obama appeared briefly at a United States Department of State reception to declare his firm belief that America's relationship with India "will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century." The Strategic Dialogue produced a joint statement in which the two countries pledged to "deepen people-to-people, business-to-business, and government-to-government linkages ... for the mutual benefit of both countries and for the promotion of global peace, stability, economic growth and prosperity." It outlined extensive bilateral initiatives in each of ten key areas: (1) advancing global security and countering terrorism, (2) disarmament and nonproliferation, (3) trade and economic relations, (4) high technology, (5) energy security, clean energy, and climate change, (6) agriculture, (7) education, (8) health, (9) science and technology, and (10) development.
In November 2010, Obama became the second US President (after Richard Nixon in 1969) to undertake a visit to India in his first term in office. On 8 November, Obama also became the second US President (after Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959) to ever address a joint session of the Parliament of India. In a major policy shift, Obama declared US support for India's permanent membership on the UN Security Council. Calling the India-US relationship "a defining partnership of the 21st century", he also announced the removal of export control restrictions on several Indian companies, and concluded trade deals worth $10 billion, which are expected to create and/or support 50,000 jobs in the US.
Devyani Khobragade incident
In December 2013, Devyani Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General of India in New York, was arrested and accused by U.S. federal prosecutors of submitting false work visa documents for her housekeeper and paying the housekeeper "far less than the minimum legal wage." The ensuing incident caused protests from the Indian government and a rift in India–United States relations; Indians expressed outrage that Khobragade was strip-searched (a routine practice for all persons arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service) and held in the general inmate population. For example, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that Khobragade's treatment was "deplorable".
India demanded an apology from the U.S. over her alleged "humiliation" and called for the charges to be dropped, which the U.S. declined to do. The Indian government retaliated for what it viewed as the mistreatment of its consular official by revoking the ID cards and other privileges of U.S. consular personnel and their families in India and removing security barriers in front of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
The Indian government also blocked non-diplomats from using the American Community Support Association (ACSA) club and American Embassy Club in New Delhi, ordering these social clubs to cease all commercial activities benefiting non-diplomatic personnel by 16 January 2014. The ACSA club operates a bar, bowling alley, swimming pool, restaurant, video-rentals club, indoor gym and a beauty parlour within the embassy premises. Tax-free import clearances given to US diplomats and consular officials for importing food, alcohol and other domestic items were revoked with immediate effect. U.S. embassy vehicles and staff are no longer immune from penalties for traffic violations. American diplomats were asked to show work contracts of all domestic help (cooks, gardeners, drivers and security staff) employed within their households. Indian authorities also conducted an investigation into the American Embassy School.
Khobragade was subject to prosecution at the time of her arrest because she had only consular immunity (which gives one immunity from prosecution only for acts committed in connection with official duties) and not the more extensive diplomatic immunity. After her arrest, the Indian government moved Khobragade to the Indian's mission to the United Nations, upgrading her status and conferring diplomatic immunity on her; as a result, the federal indictment against Khobragade was dismissed in March 2014, although the door was left open to refiling of charges. A new indictment was filed against Khobragade, but by that point she had left the country. (In an effort to resolve the dispute, the U.S. State Department had told Khobragade to leave the country).
Nancy J. Powell, the U.S. ambassador to India, resigned following the incident, which was widely seen by India "as fallout from the imbroglio." Some commentators suggested that the incident and response could lead to wider damage in U.S.-India relations. Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha called for the arrest of same-sex companions of US diplomats, citing the Supreme Court of India's upholding of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code whereby homosexuality is illegal in India. Former State Department legal advisor John Bellinger questioned whether the decision to arrest and detain Khobragade was "wise policy ... even if technically permissible" under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, while Robert D. Blackwill, the former U.S. ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003, said the incident was "stupid." Nevertheless, within a year of the incident, U.S.-India relations were warming again, as U.S. President Obama visited India in January 2015.
Speaking at Harvard Law School in 2014, U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara, in the Khobragade case, said: "(It was) not the crime of the century but a serious crime nonetheless, that is why the State Department opened the case, that is why the State Department investigated it. That is why career agents in the State Department asked career prosecutors in my office to approve criminal charges." Bharara, who was born in India, said that he was upset by attacks on him in the Indian press.
Khobragade was originally a highly sympathetic figure in India, as Indians viewed her arrest as an affront to national dignity. Opinions in India shifted, however, after Khobragade was the subject of two inquiries by the Indian government. One internal investigation found that Khobragade had violated regulations "by failing to inform the government that her children had been issued American passports" and resulted in Khobragade being administratively disciplined; a second inquiry was held into Khobragade's series of interviews about the case, undertaken without authorization from the Ministry of External Affairs.
Relationship between US Government and Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi (2001-2014)
Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat between 2001 and 2014, became the Prime Minister of India on 26 May 2014 after the Bharatiya Janata Party decisively won the 2014 Indian General Elections. The US Government completely failed to anticipate the political rise of Narendra Modi to the office of Prime Minister of India.
Sectarian violence during the 2002 Gujarat riots damaged relations between the US Government and Narendra Modi, the then incumbent Chief Minister of Gujarat. Human rights activists accused Modi of fostering anti-Muslim violence. New-York based NGO Human Rights Watch, in their 2002 report directly implicated Gujarat state officials in the violence against Muslims.
In 2012, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Indian Supreme Court found no "prosecutable evidence" against Modi. The Supreme Court of India absolved Narendra Modi of any criminal wrongdoing during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Prior to Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India, the US Government had made it known that Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat would not be permitted to travel to the US. Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center opined that although technically speaking there was no US 'visa ban' from 2005 to 2014, the US government policy of considering Modi as persona non grata had resulted in a de facto travel-ban. After the US revoked his existing B1/B2 visa in 2005 and refused to accept his application for an A2 visa, the US State Department affirmed that the visa policy remained unchanged : "(Mr Modi) is welcome to apply for a visa and await a review like any other applicant".
Exploring opportunities on how to move the relationship out of a state of morose, Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation, says that "the U.S. must first signal its willingness and commitment to collaborating with the new government—and that it will not dwell on the controversy of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which led the U.S. to revoke Modi’s visa in 2005."
On 11 June 2014, Robert Blackwill, the former Coordinator for Strategic Planning and Deputy US National Security Advisor during the presidency of George W. Bush, spoke at length about India-US relations and said : "Mr Modi is a determined leader. He is candid and frank. I also worked with him during the Gujarat earthquake when I was posted as (the US) ambassador to India. (...) It was mistake by the current Obama administration to delay engagement with Mr Modi. I do not know why they did so but definitely, this did not help in building relationship. (...) The old formula and stereotypes will not work if the US administration wants to engage with Mr Modi. The Indian prime minister is candid, direct and smart. He speaks his mind. The US administration also has to engage in candid conversation when Mr Modi meets President Obama later this year. They have to do something innovative to engage with him."
2005 Denial of Visa Application and Revocation of Visa
In 2005, the US Department of State used a 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) provision to revoke Modi’s tourist/business visa citing section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act. The IRFA provision "makes any foreign government official who ‘was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom’ ineligible for a visa to the United States."
David C. Mulford, the US Ambassador to India from 2003 to 2009, justified the rejection of a diplomatic visa to Modi in a statement released on 21 March 2005 stating that the US State Department re-affirmed the original decision to revoke Modi's tourist/business visa to which India's highest judiciary abstained all the charges from Modi later on the particular issue:
- This decision applies to Mr. Narendra Modi only. It is based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department's detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was "a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state."
Modi remains the only person ever to be banned to travel to the United States of America under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) provision of US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) due to political interest.
Robert Blackwill, former US ambassador to India opined : "I think it was a serious mistake on the part of the last (Bush) administration to do that (deny Modi a visa) and the current (Obama) administration to keep it in place... all the way till the 2014 Indian elections,". Blackwill highlighted the decision to deny Modi a visa as "absolutely unique" involving private political interest saying that the people who made the decision "thought, it’s pretty safe, because, he’s never going to be Prime Minister". Modi was found not guilty of the charges by India's judiciary.
Nicholas Burns, former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008, has spoken about the visa denial by saying : "Bush administration officials, including me, believed this to be the right decision at the time." and has opined that "Now that it looks like Modi will become prime minister, it’s reasonable for the Obama administration to say it’s been 12 years [since the 2002 riots], and we’ll be happy to deal with him"
2009 USCIRF visa black-list
In 2009, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report after ignoring the views and decision of independent body (SIT) set up by India's highest judiciary vehemently alleged that there was "significant evidence" linking Narendra Modi to communal riots in the state in 2002 and asked the Obama administration to continue the policy of preventing him from travelling to the United States of America .
The Obama administration maintained the 2005 decision taken by the George W. Bush administration to deny Narendra Modi entry into the United States of America. The US Government says that Modi can circumvent the USCIRF sanctions regime by visiting Washington on a Heads of government A1-visa as long as he is the Prime Minister of India. According to US State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki : "US law exempts foreign government officials, including heads of state and heads of government from certain potential inadmissibility grounds,". The visa refusal came after some Indian-American groups and human rights organizations with political view campaigned against Modi, including the Coalition Against Genocide.
BJP government (2014–present)
At present, India and the US share an extensive and expanding cultural, strategic, military, and economic relationship which is in the phase of implementing confidence building measures (CBM) to overcome the legacy of trust deficit - brought about by adversarial US foreign policies and multiple instances of technology denial - which have plagued the relationship over several decades. Unrealistic expectations after the conclusion of the 2008 U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement (which underestimated negative public opinion regarding the long-term viability of nuclear power generation and civil-society endorsement for contractual guarantees on safeguards and liability) has given way to pragmatic realism and refocus on areas of cooperation which enjoy favourable political and electoral consensus.
Key recent developments include the rapid growth of India's economy, closer ties between the Indian and American industries especially in the Information and communications technology (ICT), engineering and medical sectors, an informal entente to manage an increasingly assertive China, robust cooperation on counter-terrorism, the deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan relations, easing of export controls over dual-use goods & technologies (99% of licenses applied for are now approved), and reversal of long-standing American opposition to India's strategic program.
Income creation in the USA through knowledge-based employment by Asian Indians has outpaced every other ethnic group according to U.S. Census data. Growing financial and political clout of the affluent Asian Indian diaspora is noteworthy. Indian American households are the most prosperous in the USA with a median revenue of US$100,000, followed by Chinese Americans at US$65000. The average household revenue in the USA is US$50000.
US and India continue to differ on issues ranging from trade to civil liberties. The Indian Home Ministry, through an affidavit submitted to the Delhi High Court on 13 February 2015, claimed that Country Reports on Rights & Practices have become instruments of foreign policy: "The US, UK and EU have clearly mentioned in government documents and pronouncements that these reports are made for the purpose of their being used as instruments of foreign policy." The affidavit also claimed that the reports by US, UK and European Parliament were biased since they "do not provide opportunity to the Government of India or the local embassy/high commission to record their opinion and are heavily biased against the targeted country". The 2014 State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report appeared to classify the Khobragade incident as an example of human trafficking, stating: "An Indian consular officer at the New York consulate was indicted in December 2013 for visa fraud related to her alleged exploitation of an Indian domestic worker." In response, India has shown no urgency to allow visits to India by the newly appointed US anti-people trafficking ambassador Susan P. Coppedge and the US special envoy for LGBT rights Randy Berry. Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code homosexuality is illegal in India. Indian Ambassador to the USA, Arun K.Singh reiterated India's commitment to work within an international framework to tackle the problem of trafficking but rejected any "unilateral assessments" by another country saying "We will never accept it" and downplayed the importance of the visits: "When you ask a U.S. official when somebody will be given a visa, they always say ‘we will assess when visa is applied for.’ ... I can do no better than to reiterate the U.S. position."
In February 2016, the Obama administration notified the US Congress that it intended to provide Pakistan eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighters and assorted military goods including eight AN/APG-68(V)9 airborne radars and eight ALQ-211(V)9 electronic warfare suites despite strong reservations from US lawmakers regarding the transfer of any nuclear weapons capable platforms to Pakistan. Shashi Tharoor, an elected representative from the Congress party in India, questioned the substance of India-US ties: "I am very disappointed to hear this news. The truth is that continuing to escalate the quality of arms available to an irresponsible regime that has sent terrorists to India, and in the name of anti-terrorism, is cynicism of the highest order,". The Indian Government summoned the US Ambassador to India to convey its disapproval regarding the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
In February 2017, Indian ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna hosted a reception for the National Governors Association (NGA), which was attended by the Governors of 25 states and senior representatives of 3 more states. This was the first time such an event has occurred. Explaining the reason for the gathering, Virginia Governor and NGA Chair Terry McAuliffe stated that "India is America's greatest strategic partner". He further added, "We clearly understand the strategic importance of India, of India-US relations. As we grow our 21st century economy, India has been so instrumental in helping us build our technology, medical professions. We recognise a country that has been such a close strategic ally of the US. That's why we the Governors are here tonight." McAuliffe, who has visited India 15 times, also urged other Governors to visit the country with trade delegations to take advantage of opportunities.
Relationship between US Government and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (2014 onwards)
Modi's visit to America, 2014
During the run-off to the 2014 Indian general election, there was wide-ranging scepticism regarding the future of the India-US strategic relationship. Narendra Modi, whose US visa had been revoked while he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had been boycotted by US officials for almost a decade for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. However, sensing Modi’s inevitable victory well before the election, the US Ambassabor Nancy Powell had reached out to him. Moreover, following his 2014 election as the Prime Minister of India President Obama congratulated him over telephone and invited him to visit the US. US Secretary of State John Kerry visited New Delhi on 1 August to prepare the grounds for Modi's first ever US visit as Prime Minister. In September 2014, days before visiting the US in an interview to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Modi said that "India and the United States are bound together, by history and culture" but acknowledged that there have been "ups and downs" in relations. Modi travelled to US from 27–30 September 2014, beginning with his maiden address in the United Nations general assembly followed by attending a gala public reception by the Indian American community in New York’s Madison Square Garden before heading Washington, D.C. for the bilateral talk with Obama. While there, Modi also met several American business leaders and invited them to join his ambitious Make in India program in a bid to make India a manufacturing hub.
Barack Obama's visit to India, 2015
President Barack Obama became the first US president to be the chief guest of the 66th Republic Day celebrations of India held on 26 January 2015. India and the US held their first ever bilateral dialogue on the UN and multilateral issues in the spirit of the "Delhi Declaration of Friendship" that strengthens and expands the two countries' relationship as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The conspicuous absence of major announcements, a key indicator of the state of US relations with the host country, led political commentators in both countries to highlight the confidence-building aspects of the visit
Modi's visit to America, 2015
Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the Silicon Valley and met with entrepreneurs - several of whom are persons of Indian origin - involved in successful microelectronics, digital communications and biotechnology start-ups to promote the NDA government's Make in India initiative. Modi left the U.S. West Coast and travelled to New York for the 2015 UN General Assembly meeting where he had bilateral discussions with US President Barack Obama.
Modi's visit to America, 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while visiting the United States addressed a joint session of Congress highlighting the common traits of both democracies and long-term friendship between the two countries. In a speech lasting more than 45 minutes, Mr. Modi drew on parallels between the two countries and addressed a variety of issues where the two countries have worked together in the past and where the future course of action would lie.
Modi's visit to America, 2017
On June 26 Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited US and met President Donald Trump. On 8 November 2017, US has announced a grant of nearly USD 500,000 for organisations which can come up with ideas and projects to promote religious freedom in India and Sri Lanka
The U.S. has four "foundational" agreements that it signs with its defence partners. The Pentagon describes the agreements as "routine instruments that the U.S. uses to promote military cooperation with partner-nations". American officials have stated that the agreements are not prerequisites for bilateral defence co-operation, but would make it simpler and more cost-effective to carry out activities such as refueling aircraft or ships in each other's countries and providing disaster relief. The first of the four agreements, the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), was signed by India and the U.S. in 2002. The agreement enables the sharing of military intelligence between the two countries and requires each country to protect the others' classified information. The second agreement, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), was signed by the two countries on 29 August 2016. The LEMOA permits the military of either country to use the others' bases for re-supplying or carrying out repairs. The agreement does not make the provision of logistical support binding on either country, and requires individual clearance for each request.
The remaining two agreements that have not yet been signed are the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geospatial Intelligence. CISMOA enables the two countries to share secure communication and exchange information on approved equipment during bilateral and multinational training exercises and operations. BECA permits the exchange of unclassified and controlled unclassified geospatial products, topographical, nautical, and aeronautical data, products and services between India and the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar stated at the signing of the LEMOA that India would eventually sign the remaining two agreements.
Harsh V. Pant, professor of International relations at King's College London, highlighted the importance of India to US strategic planning by saying: "India is key to the US’ ability to create a stable balance of power in the larger Indo-Pacific and at a time of resource constraints, it needs partners like India to shore up its sagging credibility in the region in face of Chinese onslaught." Robert Boggs, professor of South Asia Studies at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, opines that the US "overestimates both India’s desire to improve the relationship and the benefits doing so would bring". Neelam Deo, director of foreign policy think tank Gateway House, underscored the importance that India attaches safeguarding its national interests by saying: "India is a big country, with its own strategic objectives and imperatives and it will act on opportunities where interests converge, as it has done in the past."
Recognising India as a key to its strategic interests, the United States has sought to strengthen its relationship with India. The two countries are the world's largest democracies, and both are committed to political freedom protected by representative government. The US and India have a common interest in the free flow of commerce and resources, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. In recent years, India has conducted large joint military exercises with the US in the Indian Ocean.
USA as part of his foreign policy to counter China which is now aggressively growing to the top position now held by USA, wants to make India as one of the major defence partners for which it is in talks with Indian representatives to sell highly technologically advanced predator drones. India has floated a tender to buy 100 multi role fighter aircraft Indian MRCA competition ( also called Mother of all defence deals ) of around 15 billion USD under Narendra Modi 's Make in India initiative. Although the deal is yet to be finalised in 2018, Present USA Trump's administration is now pushing for sales of advanced F-16 jet fighters, and F/A-18 Super Hornet
There have been some differences, however, including US concerns over the nuclear weapons programmes and the pace of economic reforms in India. In the past, these concerns may have dominated US thinking, but today the US views India as a growing world power with which it shares common strategic interests. A strong partnership between the two countries will continue to address differences and shape a dynamic and collaborative future.
In a meeting between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in November 2001, the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the US-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. In January 2004, the US and India launched the "Next Steps in Strategic Partnership" (NSSP), which was both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress.
In July 2005, Bush hosted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington, D.C. The two leaders announced the successful completion of the NSSP, as well as other agreements which further enhanced cooperation in the areas of civil nuclear, civil space, and high-technology commerce. Other initiatives announced included a US-India economic dialogue, the fight Against HIV/AIDS, disaster relief, technology cooperation, an agriculture knowledge initiative, a trade policy forum, energy dialogue, CEO Forum, and an initiative to assist each other in furthering democracy and freedom. President Bush made a reciprocal visit to India in March 2006, during which the progress of these initiatives were reviewed, and new initiatives were launched.
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In June 2015, US defence secretary Ashton Carter visited India and became the first American defence secretary to visit an Indian military command. In December of the same year, Manohar Parrikar became the first Indian defence minister to visit the US Pacific Command.
In March 2016, India has rejected a proposal by the USA to join naval patrols in the South China Sea alongside Japan and Australia. Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said: "India has never taken part in any joint patrol; we only do joint exercises. The question of joint patrol does not arise.”
In January 2017, Peter Lavoy, Senior Director for South Asian Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, declared that the partnership between India and the United States under Barack Obama's administration had been "incredibly successful". Lavoy stated, "I can tell you quite definitively that due to our partnerships, several terrorism plots were foiled. Indian lives and American lives were saved because of this partnership."
In late September 2001, President Bush lifted sanctions imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India's nuclear tests in May 1998. A succession of non-proliferation dialogues bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries.
In December 2006, the US Congress passed the historic Henry J. Hyde US-India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act, which allows direct civilian nuclear commerce with India for the first time in 30 years. US policy had been opposed to nuclear cooperation with India in prior years because India had developed nuclear weapons against international conventions, and had never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT). The legislation clears the way for India to buy US nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian use.
The India–United States Civil Nuclear Agreement also referred to as the "123 Agreement", signed on 10 October 2008 is a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation which governs civil nuclear trade between American and Indian firms to participate in each other's civil nuclear energy sector. For the agreement to be operational, nuclear vendors and operators must comply with India’s 2010 Nuclear Liability Act which stipulates that nuclear suppliers, contractors and operators must bear financial responsibility in case of an accident.
Prominent industrial accidents (1984 Bhopal chemical-gas disaster and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster) has led to greater scrutiny by civil society into corporate responsibility and financial liability obligations of vendors and operators of critical infrastructure. In 2010, the Indian Parliament voted the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act to address concerns and provide civil liability for nuclear damage and prompt compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident.
The United States is one of India's largest direct investors. From 1991 to 2004, the stock of FDI inflow has increased from USD $11.3 million to $344.4 million, and totaling $4.13 billion. This is a compound rate increase of 57.5 percent annually. Indian direct investments abroad began in 1992, and Indian corporations and registered partnership firms are now allowed to invest in businesses up to 100 percent of their net worth. India's largest outgoing investments are in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for 54.8 percent of the country's foreign investments. The second largest are in non-financial services (software development), accounting for 35.4 percent of investments.
The US is India's second largest trading partner, and India is its 9th largest trading partner. In 2017, the US exported $25.7 billion worth of goods to India, and imported $48.6 billion worth of Indian goods. Major items imported from India include information technology services, textiles, machinery, gems and diamonds, chemicals, iron and steel products, coffee, tea, and other edible food products. Major American items imported by India include aircraft, fertilisers, computer hardware, scrap metal, and medical equipment.
The United States is also India's largest investment partner, with a direct investment of $10 billion (accounting for 9 percent of total foreign investment). Americans have made notable foreign investments in the Asian country's power generation, telecommunications, ports, roads, petroleum exploration and processing, and mining industries.
- Gems, precious metals and coins ($9.5 billion)
- Pharmaceuticals ($6.1 billion)
- Oil ($2.8 billion)
- Machinery: $2.5 billion
- Other textiles, worn clothing: $2.5 billion
- Clothing (not knit or crochet): $2.2 billion
- Organic chemicals: $2.1 billion
- Knit or crochet clothing: $1.7 billion
- Vehicles: $1.4 billion
- Iron or steel products: $1.3 billion
- Gems, precious metals and coins ($3.4 billion)
- Machinery: $3 billion
- Electronic equipment: $1.6 billion
- Medical, technical equipment: $1.4 billion
- Oil: $1.3 billion
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $1.1 billion
- Plastics: $815.9 million
- Organic chemicals: $799.4 million
- Other chemical goods: $769.1 million
- Fruits, nuts: $684.7 million
In July 2005, President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh created a new programme called the Trade Policy Forum. It is run by a representative from each nation. The United States Trade Representative was Rob Portman, and the Indian Commerce Secretary then-Minister of Commerce Kamal Nath. The goal of the programme is to increase bilateral trade and investment flow. There are five main sub-divisions of the Trade Policy Forum, including:
- The Agricultural Trade group has three main objectives: agreeing on terms that will allow India to export mangoes to the United States, permitting India's Agricultural and Process Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) to certify Indian products to the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and executing regulation procedures for approving edible wax on fruit.
- The goals of the Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers group include agreeing that insecticides manufactured by US companies can be sold throughout India. India had also agreed to cut special regulations on trading carbonated drinks, many medicinal drugs, and lowering regulations on many imports that are not of an agricultural nature. Both nations have agreed to discuss improved facets of Indian regulation in the trade of jewellery, computer parts, motorcycles, fertiliser, and those tariffs that affect American exporting of boric acid. The group has also discussed matters such as those wishing to break into the accounting market, Indian companies gaining licenses for the telecommunications industry, and setting policies regarding Indian media and broadcasting markets. Other foci include the exchange of valuable information on recognising different professional services, discussing the movement and positioning of people in developing industries, continuation of talks on financial services markets, limitation of equities, insurance, retail, joint investment in agricultural processing and transportation industries, and small business initiatives.
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- Indian Americans
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- India as an emerging superpower
- United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act
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