world-news

Looking Ahead to 2022: A path of deep convergence with the US

Looking Ahead to 2022: A path of deep convergence with the US

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unlike the UPA II regime and unlike most of his predecessors, comes with no ideological baggage when it comes to relations with the United States (US). And so, despite all the predictions of a chill at the very least, in Indo-US ties, PM Modi has successfully dealt with three US Presidents, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and the incumbent, Joe Biden, who are as diverse in policy execution as can be. It is worth noting that the relationship was expected to head south with Biden’s victory and yet, bilateral ties are strong, and becoming stronger as the world’s largest and oldest democracies chart a course of deep convergence in future. Partnerships in the areas of economy, technology, intelligence sharing, defence and geo-politics have deepened, with both countries on the same page when it comes to the Indo-Pacific and the freedom of navigation in the South China sea. India and the US also have a strong convergence on China and want Beijing to follow the rules of the road (and laws of the sea) and not be belligerent when called out to change its wolf-warrior mentality. While the previous UPA II regime could not take advantage of the opportunity presented by the US, the Modi government has taken ties with Washington to higher levels in the past seven years. Relations have improved to an extent that India and the US can now have fundamental differences in some areas — yet hear and respect each other’s concerns. A classic example in this context is Afghanistan, where India believed that destabilizing the Ashraf Ghani regime would lead to chaos even while understanding the need for the US to exit from Kabul after nearly 20 years of policing and trillions of dollars spent on reconstruction. When the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15, both countries were constantly in touch over the evacuation of their citizens and diplomatic personnel. And even though the exit of the US forces was rather embarrassing for that country, New Delhi chose to take the larger view — that the US was not taking a backseat, but only changing its priorities towards East Asia. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral summit with President Biden followed by the QUAD physical summit on September 24 in the White House made it very clear that this informal grouping with Japan and Australia as its other partners is here to stay with the objective of setting up resilient global supply chains rather than be dependent only on one country (read: China). The high-level official and political engagement between India and US in 2021 makes the depth of the relations quite evident and the two-plus-two dialogue between Defence and External Affairs Ministers of two countries in Washington in the first half of 2022 is next on the agenda. Over the years, India and the US have developed a robust defence relationship with New Delhi buying top-of-the-line technologies including P 8I multi-mission platforms, C-17s, C-130 heavy lift aircraft, and Chinook, Apache and MH60R helicopters for all three services. In 2022, the US sale of 30 MQ 9 Predator armed drones to India is expected to be announced during the two-plus-two dialogue in light of China and its client state Pakistan having armed drone capability. The missile firing Predator drone will be a game-changer for India as the technology is proven and has been tested in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While India and US are partners in critical technologies, the strong intelligence sharing mechanism between the two countries remains behind the shadows. Even though India practices strategic autonomy, the two natural allies share intelligence on terrorists in the Af-Pak region as well as notes on Islamic radicalization in the region. During the 2017 Doklam stand-off with China at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction as well as the 2020 Ladakh face-off with PLA, key intelligence inputs were provided by the US with its P8I aircraft conducting surveillance runs over the Himalayas. Although the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) alliance has created friction within the Anglo-Saxon alliance, India has made it known to both US and France that the only gainer in this would be the common adversary and that it is time for both parties to sink their differences through dialogue and not allow grievances to fester. With QUAD countries participating in the two-phase Malabar Naval exercises in the Philippines Sea in August and then in the Bay of Bengal in October, the objective of enforcing UN Laws of Seas and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific has been secured with US and Indian Navies leading from the front. The India-US relationship is gaining momentum by the day — regardless of who is in the White House. Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011 Hatchette) and Himalayan Face-off : Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Indian Defence and Strategic Analyses (IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel. ...view detail .

world-news 2022-01-05 hindustantimes