IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

A new direction for India-U.S. ties  

10th August, 2020 Editorial

Context: History of India-US ties and way forward


The UN and China

  • India appeared to the U.S. as worthy of replacing China in the Security Council, as a Permanent Member with a Veto in view of the Communist overthrow of the Chiang Kai-shek-led government.
  • The U.S.’s offer for India to join the UN Security Council was conveyed by India’s Ambassador to the U.S. then, viz., Ms. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister.
  • Nehru not only declined the U.S. offer to India to become a UNSC Permanent Member with Veto but also instead campaigned for China to take up that seat.
  • The U.S. however resisted that campaign till 1972, when in a turnaround the U.S. supported Communist People’s Republic of China and entered into “strategic partnership” in the 1970s onwards with the reform-minded new leadership of Deng Xiaoping.


The shift to Pakistan

  • In 1953 after India’s tilt to the Soviet Union and China in the Korean War, the U.S. turned to Pakistan as a possible counterweight in South Asia against the Soviet Union and China.
  • The U.S. made Pakistan a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), and liberally gave aid and armaments.
  • Pakistan began to dream of equality with India in the international domain.
  • India had to go to war with Pakistan in 1965, 1971 and 1999, losing precious lives defending our own territory. The U.S. even sent a Seventh Fleet Task Force with nuclear weapons on board to threaten us on the dismemberment of Pakistan.


Present Relations:

  • In inner U.S. circles our purchase from Russia of the S-400 air defence missile system and the refusal to agree to America’s request to send Indian troops to Afghanistan have mostly browned off U.S. officials.
  • We need to build trust with the U.S. that we will give to the U.S. as good as it gives us, and not give us lectures instead.
  • The new or fresh paradigm should be on how to structure India-U.S. understanding and which is in sync with common India-U.S. perspectives. For this structuring, we must: first realise that India-U.S. relations require give and take on both sides.


Way Forward:

  • What India needs to take today is for dealing with the Ladakh confrontation on our side of the Line of Actual Control by China.
  • India needs U.S. hardware military equipment. India does not need U.S. troops to fight our battles against China on our border.
  • The U.S. needs India to fight her enemies in the neighborhood such as in Afghanistan. India should send two divisions gradually to Afghanistan and relieve U.S. troops to go home.
  • India needs the support of the U.S. and its ally, Israel, in cyber warfare, satellite mappings of China and Pakistan, intercepts of electronic communication, hard intelligence on terrorists, and controlling the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence in Pakistan.
  • India needs the U.S. to completely develop the Andaman & Nicobar, and the Lakshadweep Islands as a naval and air force base, which the U.S. can share along with its allies such as Indonesia and Japan.
  • India must be firm in two areas, which are not amenable to give and take. One is that economic relations must be based on macroeconomic commercial principles. Free, indiscriminate flow of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) is not in India’s national interest.
  • India needs technologies such as thorium utilization, desalination of seawater, and hydrogen fuel cells, but not Walmart and U.S. universities to start campuses in India, as proposed in the new National Education Policy draft.
  • The U.S. must allow India’s exports of agricultural products including Bos indicus milk, which are of highly competitive prices in the world.
  • Tariffs of both India and the U.S. should be lowered, and the Indian rupee should be gradually revalued to ₹35 to a dollar. Later, with the economy picking up, the rupee rate should go below 10 to the dollar.