Let’s talk business with Uncle Sam

The US needs to realise that given the Indian psyche of 150 years of British colonial rule, any strategic ties with India will need to be different from what the US has with its Nato allies. India will never accept foreign bases on its soil.

In 2006, whilst in the Navy, I attended and spoke at an international seminar in Manama (Bahrain). I still recall the host country speaker, regaling the audience of politicians, military personnel and diplomats from over a hundred nations when he said, “The US is a great democracy. It always arrives at the right answer to global problems after having exhausted all other options”.

This article examines the possibility of improving Indo-US ties, which have been on the back burner in recent times, though Indo-US trade has risen by 500 per cent to $100 billion in the last 13 years, and could potentially rise to $500 billion in the next 10 years.
Indo-US relations have never achieved their true potential, despite a few recent years of bonhomie during the Bush era, when the nuclear deal was signed. So happy were the Americans with the UPA-2 government that they not only refused to give Narendra Modi (then chief minister of Gujarat) a visa to visit the US, but also, as per media reports, Hillary Clinton had even got European NGOs to organise searches in Gujarat for imaginary graves of the 2002 riot victims. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come to power with a massive majority, the Americans are keen to restore economic and military ties.
Mr Modi has been elected on a promise of development, and he intends to kickstart the economy. The first step he has taken is to get back $1,500 billion black money from tax havens abroad, but this process will take time. India, in the meantime, urgently needs a $1,000 billion in foreign direct investment to modernise its creaking infrastructure, and the only two nations who can spare that amount of money are China (with foreign exchange reserves of $3,500 billion) and Japan (with foreign exchange reserves of $1,000 billion). During the period that Mr Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, he made four visits to China and five to Japan. Not surprisingly, China’s $900 million FDI is mostly for Gujarat. Now the Chinese foreign minister is coming, with a message for Prime Minister Modi, to increase economic co-operation, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan has also spoken warmly of ties with India. Russia will remain a crucial partner for military hardware, space exploration, energy security and nuclear power plants. Further Mr Modi is expected to meet Mr Abe in Tokyo before attending the Brics heads of states summit in Brazil on July 15, and will meet Barack Obama only in end September in US. So where does this leave Indo-US ties?
Despite decades of America backing Pakistan, India cannot ignore the fact that the US is still the world’s number one military and economic power, with the capability to help India and indeed the Asia-Pacific region against China’s numerous territorial claims and sabre rattling.
The Indo-US nuclear deal has been good for India, as badly needed uranium fuel is now freely imported for its designated civil nuclear power plants. The Americans are unhappy that no nuclear power plants have been imported from US because of the Indian Nuclear Liability Bill (NLB). The problem is not the NLB, as the supplier can always factor in the cost of the NLB in insurance and add it to the overall cost as the Russians and French are planning to do. American nuclear plant manufacturers (Westinghouse) have been bought over by a Japanese company (Toshiba), and Japan, despite Mr Abe’s friendly overtures to India, is still not willing to do “nuclear business” with India.
The US also needs to realise that given the Indian psyche of 150 years of British colonial rule, any strategic ties with India will need to be different from what the US has with its Nato allies, Japan and South Korea. India will never accept foreign bases on its soil, and Indian military personnel on global peacekeeping missions will operate only under the United Nations flag. America should stop equating India with Pakistan and stop raising the bogey of an “imminent nuclear war” in the subcontinent. Ukraine presents a far greater threat of a nuclear war given that the Americans have an estimated 200 tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) in Europe and the Russians have 2,000 TNWs. The Asia Pacific too is a dangerous “nuclear arena”, with sabre rattling over territorial claims and the involvement of three nuclear powers (US, China and North Korea).
India expects to spend over $100 billion on its military modernisation in the coming 10 years, and if American companies want a piece of this pie, they need to be willing for ToT (transfer of technology) for indigenous manufacturing. However, there are some areas where ToT can be avoided, and this relates to permitting India to acquire, on 30 years’ lease, a few American Virginia class SSNs (tactical attack submarines) to provide blue water tactical capability at sea. In addition, 11 of the 22 American Ticonderoga class guided missile cruisers (of 9,600 tons) are due to be decommissioned, and these could be transferred to the Indian Navy on “friendship prices”.
A strong Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean, and a strong Japanese Navy in the Pacific Ocean could, by co-ordinating their activities, greatly help in keeping the global sea lanes safe and open for merchant shipping, by ensuring safety against pirates, maritime terrorists, and helping to deter war in areas of tension.
In PPP terms, China is expected to overtake the US economy by end 2014. India, which is already the third-largest global economy in PPP terms (Japan is fourth), has a vested interest in maintaining good relations with Russia, US, China and Japan. It, however, needs to have sufficient military and nuclear capability to deter its two nuclear armed neighbours, while accepting Chinese FDI. The United States, for its part, needs to be sensitive to India’s global interests and aspirations, and provide it with cutting edge technology in strategic fields of civil nuclear power, space and the maritime domain. Mr Modi and Mr Obama can begin a new mutually beneficial chapter in Indo-US relations.

The writer retired as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam

Comments

India is becoming the world

India is becoming the world third largest economy, fair enough but it is useless until the social development is growing. Political parties and the governing bodies think that raping women is sometimes good and sometimes bad, makes India the worst society and Hindu civilization the worst. Real politik if is about gaining power then power that is evil is of no use. Becoming the global power brings the responsibilities and India must realize that if they were ruled by Mughals and British then doing aggressive business with the Americans will make India a barren land. Author may be right in raising many points but still the US is the largest military the world has ever seen.

US has used India as puppet

US has used India as puppet for many years. Uncle Sam follows tissue paper policy. Unfortunately, India yet not understood US policies rather following them blindly without knowing the consequences in future. Though, US pretends to be the India's ally but it always gives top priority to its national interests. India has already experienced in 123 agreement which is still hanging.

ndia should not talk business

ndia should not talk business with any country if they look down to offer us peanuts.
We are a strong economy and the right measure in the right direction will open up numerous opportunities for us to develop our own systems as per our defense needs.
No one is going to give us any high end defense technology on a platter.
What we need are dedicated people in a central pool to over see our armed forces defense needs and coordinate it with countries, Indian manufacturers, Institutions or any one with safeguards, who is willing to establish 100% FDI's in defense technologies with transfer and development agreements, should we wish to acquire them at an extra cost.
By total control with in the country we would be able to ensure better results from day one to the end product; when they become functional with our forces.

Obama himself had

Obama himself had reservations about the nuclear agreement, and supported it reluctantly. Many of his advisors, particularly on nuclear matters, were more overtly critical. nuclear deal forces India to be dependent on U.S.A for nuclear fuel. and may lead to India becoming subservient to the U.S. India will also have to allow regular inspections of their nuclear facilities.the idea of a nuclear deal with India is not in itself the problem — it is just that the terms of the current deal concede too much and ask too little. The deal and associated texts are inconsistent and fuzzy on what happens if India tests another bomb.

US-Indo deal has marked the

US-Indo deal has marked the history and acted as the most important factor in destabilizing the regional strategic balance of South Asia. But this deal is still in pipelines and not implemented to date as yet. There can be certain factors which are hindering the deal from implementing majorly includes the India nuclear liability law, safety and security issues in nuclear power plants of India. Author has tried to convince the USA officials by offering them with cakes and pastries. He very confidently claimed that "A strong Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean will greatly help in keeping the global sea lanes safe and open for merchant shipping, by ensuring safety against pirates, maritime terrorists, and helping to deter war in areas of tension". I would recommend the author before seeing bigger dreams kindly make your navy fool proof and capable enough. At the moment it is not capable even to absorb the accidents.

US-Indo deal has marked the

US-Indo deal has marked the history and acted as the most important factor in destabilizing the regional strategic balance of South Asia. But this deal is still in pipelines and not implemented to date as yet. There can be certain factors which are hindering the deal from implementing majorly includes the India nuclear liability law, safety and security issues in nuclear power plants of India. Author has tried to convince the USA officials by offering them with cakes and pastries. He very confidently claimed that "A strong Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean will greatly help in keeping the global sea lanes safe and open for merchant shipping, by ensuring safety against pirates, maritime terrorists, and helping to deter war in areas of tension". I would recommend the author before seeing bigger dreams kindly make your navy fool proof and capable enough. At the moment it is not capable even to absorb the accidents.

I just Coat this “It is

I just Coat this “It is outrageous that such a critical vote, one that will forever change the global nonproliferation regime, was taken without the benefit of full Congressional review and oversight, as required by the law. This is a terrible bill that threatens the future of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.” – Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) before the House approval on September 27, 2008

United States and India have

United States and India have crashed to their lowest ebb since the last millennium. The implications extend far beyond foreign policy. Also the United States must realize that the country is still stuck in their nuclear liability issue and doesn’t have the nuclear security parameters up to the mark: one that should be of even greater concern to Americans. If the India don’t act in an appropriate manner with the US this will be dent in the relationship between countries forever.

As opposed to the bush era,

As opposed to the bush era, Modi has Potus on the Blackfoot with holding his ground on the visa issue with that moral advantage and unashamedly serenading japan and china he might get Uncle Sam to play ball . A good piece with all the initial moves by the Indian side positive and robust. Interesting developments in the offing.

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