US- India relations

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Some facts; Indian firms in the US; Graphic courtesy: India Today, August 3, 2015

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


An overview


Visits of Indian PMs to the USA and US Presidents to India
Arms exported by the USA and the USSR to India and Pakistan
US aid to India and Pakistan
The migration of Indians to the top 5 destination countries
The number of Indians studying in the USA
The number of Indian tourists visiting the USA and US tourists visiting India
The main countries whose satellites were launched by India.
The biggest Hollywood hits in India in 2019
From: February 23, 2020: The Times of India

See picture:

Visits of Indian PMs to the USA and US Presidents to India
Arms exported by the USA and the USSR to India and Pakistan
US aid to India and Pakistan
The migration of Indians to the top 5 destination countries
The number of Indians studying in the USA
The number of Indian tourists visiting the USA and US tourists visiting India
The main countries whose satellites were launched by India.
The biggest Hollywood hits in India in 2019

1971 war

U.S. thought India might seize PoK after ’71 victory

U.S. thought India might seize PoK after 1971 war: CIA files, January 28, 2017: The Times of India

The Indian Army held a farewell parade at a stadium in Dhaka on March 12, 1972, marking the victorious role it played in the liberation of Bangladesh.; PHOTO: The HINDU ARCHIVES
From: U.S. thought India might seize PoK after 1971 war: CIA files, January 28, 2017: The Times of India

The U.S. government had thought that the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi might order an attack on West Pakistan to capture Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir after India’s operation to create Bangladesh got over, recently declassified CIA documents say.

As per CIA reports and minutes of high-level meetings in Washington on Indo-Pak. tensions, it was clear that the U.S. government was readying a strategy should India smash military power of West Pakistan. The then U.S. President Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger discussed various possibilities due to deteriorating Indo-Pak. ties in the wake of India’s military offensive in East Pakistan. But, some top security officials in Washington felt the possibility of India launching a strike on West Pakistan was remote.

At one of the meetings of Washington’s Special Action Group, the then CIA Director Richard Holmes said, “It is reported that prior to terminating the present hostilities, Mrs. Gandhi intends to attempt to eliminate Pakistan’s armour and air force capabilities,” as per papers which are part of nearly 12 million documents CIA declassified last week.

According to the documents, though Nixon had “warned India to cut off economic aid in case of war in East Pakistan, the U.S. administration was clueless on how to implement it.

“Both the President and the Secretary of State have warned the Indians that we will ‘cut off’ economic aid in case of war. But do we know what that means? No one has looked at the consequences or examined the means of implementing a cut off,” Mr. Kissinger told a meeting of top defence and CIA officials on August 17, 1971.

1971-2018: points of discord

February 25, 2020: The Times of India

Indulging in diplomatic grandstanding in front of a packed stadium in Ahmedabad, US President Donald Trump said “America will always be a faithful and loyal friend to the Indian people.”

In the past, though, US-India relations have fluctuated from warmth and friendship to open hostility.

"America loves India, America respects India and America will always be a faithful and loyal friend to the Indian people," said US President Donald Trump at Ahmedabad's Motera Stadium on February 24

Friends don’t threaten friends 

During the 1971 Indo-Pak war for the creation of Bangladesh, the then US President Richard Nixon ordered the US Navy's seventh fleet, led by the USS Enterprise nuclear powered aircraft carrier into Bay of Bengal to threaten India to withdraw its offensive in what was then East Pakistan. This is remembered as the almost direct military intervention of the US on behalf of Pakistan. On India’s request, the Soviet Union dispatched nuclear submarines and other surface ships to counter the threat of the Americans.

Friends don’t cripple friends 

After the 1998 nuclear tests, the US came crashing down on India by imposing economic sanctions— which were particularly hard as they came in the middle of the Indian economy’s efforts to shed its lethargy of socialism and become a more liberalised economy. The US even recalled its ambassador to India. Earlier, in 1978, after the US enacted the nuclear non-proliferation act that required countries like India who hadn’t signed the NPT to allow international inspectors to inspect its nuclear facilities, Washington ended all nuclear assistance to New Delhi after the latter refused to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.

Friends don’t humiliate friends 

One of the low points of the India-US relations in recent times had been the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the then Indian Deputy Consul General in December 2013. Khobragade was arrested by American authorities in New York for allegedly underpaying her maid and was strip searched, handcuffed and subjected to cavity searches. The incident created an uproar in India and the Indian government responded by initiating a slew of steps in which privileges issued to US diplomats and their families were withdrawn and import clearances given to the embassy were withdrawn. The incident led to the resignation of US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell.

The arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in 2013 was a low point in India-US ties

Friendship isn’t a 'trade off’

When it comes to bilateral trade, US President Donald Trump has been vocal on the perceived injustice that is meted out to companies in trade ties with India. In 2018, certain trade privileges were withdrawn from India and higher tariffs were imposed on steel and aluminium products.

Washington has been asking for removal of the “developing nation” tag from India at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The tag enables developing countries to seek various trade benefits, such as entitlement to longer timeframe for the imposition of safeguards, generous transition periods, softer tariff cuts, procedural advantages for WTO disputes and the ability to avail themselves of certain export subsidies. Trump said India and China -- two economic giants of Asia -- are no longer developing nations and as such they cannot take advantage of this benefit from the WTO, an intergovernmental organisation that regulates international trade among nations. Trump has been a vocal critic of India for levying "tremendously high duties" on US products and has described the country as a 'tariff king'. A few days ahead of his visit to India, the Trump- administration terminated India’s preferential trade status, part of a program dating back to the 1970s that allows products from developing countries to enter the US market duty free. The reason given by the US was that India has not provided “equitable and reasonable access” to its own market and was not a developing country as it was part of the G20 group.

1988-98: The Bush-era

Chidanand Rajghatta, He set stage for post-Cold War US-India ties, December 2, 2018: The Times of India

The one-term, four-year Presidency of George HW Bush set the stage for a post- Cold War realignment of US-India relations, his administration navigating through a thicket of contentious trade and commerce issues amid the nuclear weaponisation on the sub-continent.

Bush came to the White House in 1988 even as India plunged into a period of political uncertainly after the Bofors scandal led to the emergence of a National Front government and the emergence of the Mandal and Mandir imbroglios. As a former CIA director, US ambassador to China, and a two-term vice-president under Ronald Reagan (during which time he visited India to attend Mrs Indira Gandhi’s funeral), Bush was familiar with the region. He recognised the decreased salience of Pakistan as a frontline state after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and in his second year in office, he declined to certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapon, a step that began US downgrading of ties with Islamabad, although New Delhi believed it was too little too late because Pakistan had already crossed the nuclear red line, taking advantage of the Reagan administration’s indulgence of it.

Still, defence ties between Washington and New Delhi, ramped up during the Reagan era with first visits to India by defence secretaries Caspar Weinberger and Frank Carlucci, began to look up with the visit to US in July 1989 by K C Pant, the first visit to Washington by an Indian defence minister after Y B Chavan in 1964 (current defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be in Washington this weekend). This, despite the usual niggles: The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project doddered along and the Bush administration kvetched over the potential misuse of US technologies, including the Cray supercomputer and a Combined Acceleration Vibration Climatic Test System, to enhance India’s nuclear weapons programme.

It was another matter that Washington had pretty much slept through Pakistan’s nuclearisation, mostly through theft and skullduggery. In 1989, Bush sent his National Security Advisor Robert Gates to New Delhi and Islamabad to defuse a military confrontation that Washington believed could lead to a nuclear flashpoint — the only time the US has involved itself directly in an India-Pakistan spat. But the Gates mission also made it clear that Washington no longer backed a UN plebiscite as a preferred way to solve the Kashmir issue, and instead supported bilateral talks in accordance with the Simla Agreement.

Washington and New Delhi continued to squabble on the trade front over sums and issues that are pitiful and trivial in today’s terms. In what came to be known as a Super 301 dispute, the Bush administration came down on New Delhi because of its $ 690million trade surplus with Washington, clubbing it with Japan (which had a surplus of billions), in the same way the Trump administration often clubs India with China.

But the biggest development on the US-India front during the Bush years was the decision by New Delhi to allow refuelling during the Gulf War of US military planes in Mumbai. This went on secretly for several months through the V P Singh and Chandrasekhar governments till a TOI photographer, Sudharak Olwe, spotted a US plane refuelling and the photo made it to the front pages the next day.


US: Arunachal is Indian territory

Arunachal is Indian territory, reiterates US, October 3, 2020: The Times of India

Washington/New Delhi:

As the India-China border stand-off continues in Ladakh, the US reiterated its position that it recognises Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory. Though this is a stated position, its articulation in the current contest is significant as the US also criticised “unilateral attempts” to advance territorial claims.

China claims the Indian state as its territory and had recently again said it doesn’t recognise India’s sovereignty over Arunachal. A top State Department official was quoted as saying that US position on “some parts of the border” for sure was explicitly clear and it has recognised Arunachal as Indian territory for six decades. TNN & AGENCIES

Bilateral visits

China related issues

2019, Mar:  US, China clash at UN over Azhar

US, China in bitter showdown at UN over sanctions on Azhar, March 29, 2019: The Times of India

Chidanand Rajghatta, Sachin Parashar & Saibal Dasgupta

The US and China are engaged in a bitter showdown at the UN over Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Masood Azhar, with Beijing accusing Washington of “forcefully moving” a resolution in the Security Council which is intended to compel China to make public its reasons for stalling efforts to tag him as a “global terrorist”.

With Beijing persisting with a “technical hold”, thereby preventing the sanctions committee of the UNSC from designating the Jaish-e-Muhammed chief as a terrorist, Washington has sought to raise the heat by seeking a discussion in the council — inviting a sharp Chinese retort that it should act with caution.

Acting with the support of France and the UK, the US bumped up the issue of listing Azhar on Wednesday.

The move came two weeks after China, for the fourth time, put a hold on a proposal to list him under the 1267 Al Qaida Sanctions Committee of the council. Never before has a terrorist of interest to India been targeted at the council in this manner. The other 14 council members are said to be supporting the proposed ban.

Tread cautiously, China tells US on its Azhar move

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in Beijing that the US was undermining the authority of the sanctions committee. “This is not in line with resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations. This has reduced the authority of the committee as a main anti-terrorism body of the UNSC and this is not conducive to the solidarity and only complicates the issue,” Geng said.

“We urge the US to act cautiously and avoid forcefully moving forward this resolution draft,” China said, using unusually blunt language as the Trump administration made good its expressed intent to take the JeM chief ’s issue to the UNSC since the sanctions committee had been repeatedly thwarted.

Adding to the friction was US secretary of state Mike Pompeo calling out the contradiction of China’s forcible detention of Uighur Muslims while supporting terror groups like JeM. “The world cannot afford China’s shameful hypocrisy toward Muslims. On one hand, China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other, it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN,” Pompeo said.

The US resolve in pushing China reflects a determination to press down on Pakistan in the wake of the JeM claiming responsibility for the suicide bombing in Pulwama despite its efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan, a strategy that is seen to require the cooperation of Pakistan. Its cruciality to US plans is seen as a factor that emboldens the Pakistan military to “sanction” a big attack in J&K.

The US move means that China, if it doesn’t lift the "technical hold”, will likely have to explain publicly for the first time the rationale behind its support to the leader of a UN-designated terrorist group. It is understood that the next step for the council is to have informal discussions on the resolution.

Contentious issues

As in 2020 Feb

Bloomberg, India offers concessions on US farm goods to reach trade deal, February 18, 2020: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: India is open to greater market access for American farm and dairy products and lower duties on Harley-Davidson Inc motorcycles as it seeks to conclude a trade deal with the US in time for President Donald Trump’s scheduled visit next week, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

New Delhi is willing to allow market access for US-produced cranberries, blueberries, pecan nuts and avocados at lower duties. Also on the cards is allowing some imports of dried distilled grains soluble, a by-product of ethanol production used in animal feed and alfalfa hay, a plant used for fodder, said the people, asking not to be identified citing rules.

Even as talks are on between the two nations to have some sort of a deal on the table ahead of Trump’s state visit on February 24-25, there is no clarity yet on when a final agreement will be ready, the people said, adding that work was still underway on the finer details, which aims to resolve long-pending issues on both sides.

Trade talks between Washington and New Delhi have been stalled since before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit in September.

A trade deal, even a small one, with New Delhi comprising greater market access for the US is likely to help Trump further consolidate his position in an election year. He’s fresh off the success of having signed a ‘phase one’ agreement with China last month as well as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement or USMCA deal.

Harley Davidson

India has also yielded ground on an issue that Trump has championed by agreeing to cut import duties for Harley-Davidson motorcycles by creating a separate tariff classification for them.

New Delhi has also indicated its willingness to relent on domestically sensitive issues like price caps on medical devices and market access to US dairy products.

Washington though is yet to blink on several issues which are of interest to India including exemptions from high steel and aluminum tariffs, the people said. So far, it has indicated easing rules to provide greater market access for Indian grapes, mangoes and pomegranate arils along with slashing import duty for these items. The restoration of an exception that had allowed India duty-free exports of about 2,000 products until last year, is also on the cards. This tops India’s agenda because of its competitiveness with low-cost rivals.

Trade ministry spokesman Yogesh Baweja declined to comment on the matter. The spokesperson for the office of the United States Trade Representative was not immediately available for comment because of a public holiday.

Shifting goalposts

Trade talks between the two sides have been in limbo largely because the Americans have been adding new items during negotiations, the people said. These include India’s proposed policy for e-commerce, its data protection bill and US companies MasterCard and Visa being treated at par with government-backed RuPay. This has made it difficult for the Indian side to conclude negotiations, they said. New Delhi has signaled willingness to discuss any new issues once an initial pact is finalised.

US-India bilateral trade was at $88 billion in the year ended March 2019, with New Delhi running a surplus of $17 billion. That surplus has been narrowing since 2017 after India started buying more oil, natural gas and coal, drones and aircraft from America.

Indian Prime Ministers who visited the USA


Indian Prime Ministers in US Congress; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, June 9, 2016
Indian Prime Ministers in US Congress; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, June 9, 2016
The outcome of PM Narendra Modi’s 4th visit to the USA, in June 2016; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, June 9, 2016

End of section

2015: Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley

US-India relations in various arenas, trade, energy, climate, science, health, strategic defence and security; The Times of India, Jan 21, 2017

Preparing for Mr Modi’s visit

WikiLeaks emails reveal preparations for PM Narendra Modi's 2015 Silicon Valley visit, October 11, 2016: India Today

The email gives an insight into the preparations done by the US for a successful visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Silicon Valley in 2015.

  • US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia wrote an email to John Podesta on making the trip successful.
  • Biswal also wrote to checka if former US president Bill Clinton can co-host a clean energy event with Modi at Stanford.
  • Biswal in email said there is lot of interest in Indian govt to focus on two themes for Modi's Silicon Valley visit.

The latest batch of emails released by WikiLeaks from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta gives an insight into the planning done by the Obama administration to ensure a successful visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Silicon Valley in 2015.

More than a month and half before Modi was to visit Silicon Valley in the last week of September, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal wrote an email to John Podesta, who had by then joined the Clinton campaign, seeking his advice and input on making the trip successful and also checking if former US president Bill Clinton can co-host a clean energy event with Modi at Stanford.

In an email to Podesta dated August 12, Biswal said there is a lot of interest in the Indian government to focus on two themes for the Silicon Valley visit.

First is the digital economy, she wrote and added that here the focus will be a visit to Google and some announcements on Google's massive investments in India, she said.

"The other focus is on clean energy. Here the Indians want to visit Tesla and hopefully announce a Tesla partnership/venture with India focusing on their battery storage system for solar energy," Biswal said.

"The other major effort is around a clean energy roundtable with Stanford that commerce had been working on. It now seems (Commerce Secretary Penny) Pritzker cannot make it to California and the Indians are looking for some other USG (US government) principal to participate with industry, academia and government," she wrote.

"Before I engage the WH (State Department) and State or DoE (Department of Energy), I wanted to see if you had thoughts on how we should approach this. The Indians have said that it would need to be a Cabinet rank principal to convene this with the PM (Prime Minister)," Biswal said.

"We will of course see if Secretary (of State John) Kerry or Secretary (of Energy Earnest) Moniz can go to California that weekend but things are complicated by the (Chinese President) Xi (Jinpings) visit and the UNGA (UN General Assembly) schedule. Are there other options you would suggest we pursue?" she asked.

"Another option would be to see if (California) Governor (Jerry) Brown or perhaps President Clinton would be interested in co-hosting/convening. Also, would you want to participate in the roundtable? Let me know if you have thoughts on this or want to discuss," Biswal wrote as per the email released by WikiLeaks.

The State Department has not authenticated the email.

2016, PM Modi's speech to the US Congress

PM Narendra Modi’s speech to the US Congress, June 2016, analysed; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

See graphic:

PM Narendra Modi’s speech to the US Congress, June 2016, analysed

Indian PMs who have addressed US Congress

Till 2016, Nehru to Modi

June 22, 2023: The Indian Express

Jawaharlal Nehru

“I have come here on a voyage of discovery of the mind and heart of America and to place before you our own mind and heart. Thus we may promote that understanding and cooperation which, I feel sure, both our countries earnestly desire.

We realise that self-help is the first condition of success for a nation, no less than for an individual. We are conscious that ours must be the primary effort and we shall seek succour from none to escape from any part of our own responsibility. But though our economic potential is great, its conversion into finished wealth will need much mechanical and technological aid.

We shall, therefore, gladly welcome such aid and cooperation on terms that are of mutual benefit… But we do not seek any material advantage in exchange for any part of our hard-won freedom.”

CONTEXT: The House Chamber was under renovation, and Nehru addressed a reception in the Ways and Means Committee Room in the New House Office Building (later renamed Longworth) for 15 minutes. He then headed to the Senate, temporarily meeting in the Old Supreme Court Chamber, to give the same address. Relations between India and the US, then led by President Harry S Truman, were at a nascent stage. Nehru’s policy of non-alignment, and socialist views, were generally met with scepticism in Washington DC.

“I have been elected Prime Minister of India at a time when our nation stands poised for a new surge of growth. Our leaders in the past 30 years have established firm foundations on which we have now to build. India is an old country, but a young nation; and like the young everywhere, we are impatient.

I am young, and I have a dream. I dream of an India — strong, self-reliant, and in the front rank of the nations of the world in the service of mankind. I am committed to realising that dream through dedication, hard work, and the collective determination of our people. We will welcome all the cooperation that we can get.”

CONTEXT: India was seen as close to the Soviet bloc, although it claimed non-alignment. With President Ronald Reagan, the differences were mainly around arming Pakistan. Rajiv’s visit was a huge hit; Secretary of State George P Shultz said it had “exceeded everything expected”. In a commentary in The New York Times, Bernard Weinraub quoted a Reagan administration official as saying: “There’s a night and day contrast between Rajiv and his mother… This fellow has an open mind. Reagan and Mrs Gandhi were roughly the same generation and the irony is that Reagan has far more rapport with Rajiv than he had with Mrs Gandhi”. The seeds of high-technology transfers and space cooperation were sown during Rajiv’s period.

P V Narasimha Rao

“US and India have learned a great deal from each other throughout history. Distances did not matter. Indeed, distances never mattered in the transmission of ideas because their medium is the mind.
 Then came the Cold War. That great opportunity seemed to be slipping through our fingers even as we tried to hold it in our hands. Today we have to worry about the fingers.

Being transient, term-bound representatives of our peoples, you and I have neither the time nor the need to review what we do not wish to repeat. It is the future we have to think about — in fact, worry about. And, of course, the fingers. The fingers are simply democracy and development. From my own personal experience, I have no doubt that this is an extremely difficult combination and equally essential, in India’s view.

Indo-US relations are on the threshold of a bold, new era.
As India stands poised to contribute to global prosperity and peace in the next century, we look forward to continuing our partnership with America and with the American people. India is one of the developing countries in which the process of development is firmly established. We have realised that no quick fixes are possible and that there is no substitute for hard work with full involvement of the people.”

CONTEXT: The Soviet Union had collapsed, the Cold War had ended, and India had unveiled a radical programme of economic reforms. It was a time of great opportunity and hope, and aptly enough, Rao spoke of the need to look to the future without the baggage of the past. President Bill Clinton was some months into his first term when Rao visited.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

“If we want… a democratic, prosperous, tolerant, pluralistic, stable Asia… where our vital interests are secure, then it is necessary for us to re-examine old assumptions… In the years ahead, a strong, democratic and economically prosperous India, standing at the crossroads of all the major cultural and economic zones of Asia, will be an indispensable factor of stability in the region.

Security issues have cast a shadow on our relationship. I believe this is unnecessary. We have much in common and no clash of interests. India understands your concerns. We do not wish to unravel your non-proliferation efforts. We wish you to understand our security concerns. Let us remove the shadow of hesitation that lies between us and our joint vision.”

CONTEXT: Vajpayee’s government had carried out a nuclear test just two years ago, inviting a range of global sanctions. But a new phase of economic reforms were being unveiled in India, the IT sector was booming, and growth was picking up. Vajpayee, the second Prime Minister to visit under Clinton’s presidency, spoke with vision and conviction.

Manmohan Singh

“President Bush and I arrived at an understanding in finding ways and means to enable (civil nuclear energy) cooperation… India’s track record in nuclear non-proliferation is impeccable. We have adhered scrupulously to every rule and canon… even though we have witnessed unchecked nuclear proliferation in our own neighbourhood… We have never been, and will never be, a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies.

The United States and India must work together in all possible forums to counter all forms of terrorism. We cannot be selective in this area. We must fight terrorism wherever it exists, because terrorism anywhere threatens democracy everywhere.

CONTEXT: With the economic relationship blooming, India and the US took steps to take ties to a higher strategic level. President George W Bush offered India a sweetheart civil nuclear deal, the framework agreement for which was signed a day before Singh’s address to Congress, and which was finally concluded in 2008.

Narendra Modi (2016)

“More than fifteen years ago, Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee stood here and gave a call to step out of the ‘shadow of hesitation’ of the past. The pages of our friendship since then tell a remarkable story.

Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations. Through the cycle of elections and transitions of Administrations the intensity of our engagements has only grown. And, in this exciting journey, the U.S. Congress has acted as its compass. You helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership.”

CONTEXT: It was President Barack Obama’s last year in office, and Modi arrived in the US, riding the tide of a strong partnership between the two countries. The tenure of Obama, who became the first US President to visit India twice during the term, witnessed some key developments in the relationship — trade had jumped from $60 billion in 2009 to $107 billion in 2015, India’s defence purchase from the US had spiked to $14 billion and foreign direct investment into the US from India had tripled.

2023: Takeaways of Mr Modi’s visit

June 23, 2023: The Times of India

India, US to launch 35 innovative research collaborations in emerging technologies

Such is the emphasis on tech, particularly critical technologies, that agriculture, once the cornerstone of ties with a country that helped India become food sufficient, finds only one fleeting mention in the 6,000-word joint statement. The two sides have also chosen to put behind them decades of US sanctions that constrained India space and nuclear programmes. 
 “The US-India Comprehensive Global and Strategic Partnership is anchored in a new level of trust and mutual understanding and enriched by the warm bonds of family and friendship that inextricably link our countries together,” the joint statement said, affirming a vision characterising them as “among the closest partners in the world”. Indicative of the imminent passing of heavy-handed US restriction on technology exports, President Biden reiterated his commitment to work with US Congress to lower barriers to exports to India of High Performance Computing technology and source code. The two leaders also directed their aides to undertake regular efforts to address export controls, explore ways of enhancing high technology commerce, and facilitate technology transfer between the two countries.

The two sides also launched two joint task forces on advanced telecommunications, including development in 5G/6G technologies, standards cooperation, facilitating access to chipsets for system development, and establishing joint research and development projects. They also welcomed the launch of a $2 million grant programme under the US-India Science and Technology Endowment fund for the joint development and commercialisation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and quantum technologies.

“The visit has not only been extremely rich on form but also rich in substance,” India’s foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said.

As part of the enhanced cooperation the two sides will launch 35 innovative joint research collaborations in emerging technologies funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST). Under a new implementation arrangement between NSF and DST, both sides will fund joint research projects in computer and information science and engineering, cyber physical systems, and secure and trustworthy cyberspace.

Furthermore, NSF and India’s ministry of electronics and information technology will bring fresh funding for joint projects in applied research areas such as semiconductors, next generation communication, cyber secu- rity, sustainability and green technologies and intelligent transportation systems.

Hailing the landmark signing of an MoU between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the manufacture of GE F-414 jet engines in India for the Light Combat Aircraft Mk 2, they termed it a “trailblazing initiative. . . that will enable greater transfer of US jet engine technology than ever before”.

They welcomed India’s emergence as a hub for maintenance and repair for forward deployed US Navy assets and the conclusion of Master Ship Repair Agreements with Indian shipyards — a throwback to World War Two era when US aircraft in the Asia theatre were flown to Bangalore for maintenance and repair.

Without naming China, the leaders expressed concern over its coercive actions in the region, while strongly opposing “destabilizing or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force”.

Pakistan found a more direct mention, as they called on Islamabad to take immediate action to ensure no territory under its control is used for launching terrorist attacks


June 23, 2023: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: With a flurry of deals and mega announcements, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic visit to US has yielded fruitful results for both the countries looking to take their relationship to the next level.

Besides captivating millions at home and in America with his speeches in the US Congress and outside the White House, PM Modi held several high-profile meetings which concluded with both sides making mega announcements in the areas of defence, trade, space, solar power and visas.

Here are the 10 key announcements that emerged from India-US talks during PM Modi's visit ...


The Biden administration said it will make it easier for Indians to live and work in the United States.

The State Department could announce as soon as that a small number of Indians and other foreign workers on H-1B visas will be able to renew those visas in the US without having to travel abroad, one source said, part of a pilot programme that could be expanded in coming years.

New consulates

The two sides will also open new consulates in both countries on a reciprocal basis to enhance people-to-people ties and travel. The United States intends to open two new consulates in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. India is opening a new consulate in Seattle this year and will soon announce two more consulates in US.

GE-HAL deal

The aerospace unit of General Electric on Thursday announced it had signed an agreement with India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics to jointly make engines in India to power fighter jets, specifically Tejas, for the Indian Air Force.

The deal, called "historic" and "trailblazing" by officials, is considered the most significant of the number of agreements inked between the two countries.

The GE-HAL deal to co-produce F414 engines in India requires US government and legislative approvals.

It is not known yet how much of the technology behind the F414 that GE will share with HAL, and if that includes sensitive technology that deals with managing very high engine temperatures.

The first F414 engines are expected to be delivered from US over the next three years while HAL sets up a production facility for it in India.


The defence ministry has approved the procurement of armed MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones, sources told Reuters earlier this month. India will buy 31 drones made by General Atomics worth slightly over $3 billion.

The MQ-9Bs will be assembled in India, a joint statement said, and US manufacturer General Atomics will also establish new facility in India.

The proposed acquisition of the high­altitude, long­endurance drones — 15 SeaGuardians for Navy and eight SkyGuardians each for Army and IAF — under the US government’s foreign military sales (FMS) programme will eventually have to be cleared by the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) before the final contract is inked.

Micron's huge investment in Gujarat

US memory chip firm Micron Technology said on Thursday it would invest up to $825 million in a new chip assembly and test plant in Gujarat, its first factory in India.

Micron said that with support from the central government and from the state of Gujarat, the total investment in the plant will be $2.75 billion. Of that, 50% will come from the Centre and 20% from the state of Gujarat.

US semiconductor toolmaker Applied Materials will invest $400 million over four years in a new engineering center in India, the company said.


United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the two nations have agreed to terminate six outstanding disputes at the World Trade Organization.

India also agreed to remove retaliatory tariffs, which it had imposed in response to the US Section 232 national security measures on steel and aluminum, on US products, including chickpeas and apples.

Critical minerals

India joined the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), a US-led partnership to create critical energy minerals supply chains. India will join 12 other partner countries, plus the European Union. India’s Epsilon Carbon Limited will invest $650 million in a greenfield electric vehicle battery component factory, hiring over 500 employees over the course of five years.

Solar power investment

A new venture backed by Indian solar panel maker Vikram Solar Ltd (VIKO.NS) said on Thursday it will invest up to $1.5 billion in the US solar energy supply chain, beginning with a factory in Colorado next year.

The newly formed company, VSK Energy LLC, will aid the US push to build a clean energy manufacturing sector to compete with China.


The two countries also announced a framework for human spaceflight this year and a mission to the International Space Station in 2024, following India's decision to join the US-led Artemis Accord.

Advanced computing

India and US established a Joint Indo-US Quantum Coordination Mechanism to facilitate joint research between the public and private sectors across both countries.

They have also signed a new implementation arrangement on artificial intelligence advanced wireless and quantum technologies.

(With inputs from Reuters)

Joint Statements of Indian PMs and US Presidents


Sachin Parashar, February 26, 2020: The Times of India

While the India-US joint statement seemed to carry an abridged version of the condemnation of crossborder terrorism when the leaders met in 2017, it was unequivocal in condemning the menace as PM Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump denounced any use of terrorist proxies and called on Pakistan to ensure no territory under its control is used to launch terror attacks.

While the statement slammed “cross-border terrorism’’ in all its forms and also named terror groups like Jaish-e- Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba supported by Pakistan against India, it also noted concerns regarding China. India and the US spoke of efforts towards a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and “solemnly urged that it not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of all nations according to international law’’.

Soon after Modi assumed office in 2014, after his first summit with then president Barack Obama, India for the first time mentioned the South China Sea dispute in a bilateral document with the US. This happened again after Obama’s visit to India in early 2015. In 2017 though, the countries dropped the mention even though they reiterated the importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight and commerce throughout the region.

The joint statement called on Pakistan to ensure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11 and Pathankot. It also called for concerted action against all terrorist groups including al-Qaida, IS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, TTP, D-Company and all their affiliates. This is significant for India as it has sought similar condemnation from all world leaders, particularly the mention of cross-border terrorism, after high-level talks. Trump had in his speech in Ahmedabad on Monday and again at Hyderabad House on Tuesday said the US is working with Pakistan to confront terrorists and their ideology. He also added that his country enjoyed a very good relationship with Pakistan.

Unlike last time though, the leaders did not affirm their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that, as they said in 2017, will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism.

Also missing was the pledge as was done last time to work together to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons to terrorists and non-state actors.

In his speech at the Hyderabad House, where he hosted Trump, Modi said cooperation between India and the US at the global level was founded on democratic values and objectives, especially in the Indo-Pacific region and other global commons. In a dig at China, he also said India and the US agreed on the importance of “sustainable and transparent financing’’ in the development of connectivity infrastructure across the world.

Migrants, illegal

2014-2019: Indians deported

IP Singh, US deported 1,600 Indians in 2019, February 7, 2020: The Times of India

The US in 2019 deported 1,616 Indians, the highest in any single year since 2014, according to data obtained from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A total of 8,447 Indian nationals were detained in ICE facilities last year for violating immigration laws, information provided last month under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has revealed.

In 2018, the US immigration authorities detained 9,818 Indians (including 359 women), the highest till now. The same year, 611 Indians were deported from the US. The ICE data has also revealed that among the 8,447 “ICE initial bookings (sic) of Indian nationals by gender” 422 were women, 8,022 were men while gender of three was not clear to the American authorities. This is about four times when compared with the 2014 number when 2,306 Indian nationals were detained in ICE facilities. Notably, the number of women in the ICE detention centres is increasing almost in the same proportion.

North American Punjabi Association executive director Satnam Singh Chahal had sought information from ICE on number of Indian men and women deported every year from 2014 to 2019. Releasing the information, FOIA officer Catrina M Pavlik-Keenan said, “Although there is no record of deported persons belonging to Punjab, it is believed that most are from the region. Growing number of Indianorigin illegal migrants is a serious matter of concern.”

Russia- / USSR- related issues

1993: Clinton warned Boris Yeltsin of sanctions for India defence ties

June 7, 2023: The Times of India

Mumbai: The US had threatened Russia with sanctions a number of times if Moscow continued nuclear and defence co-operation with India, declassifed transcripts of the Washington-based National Security Archive indicated Monday, reportsSrinivas Laxman.

While there were disagreements on India in 1993 between both countries, there were assurances about a wide range of co-operation, with US President Bill Clinton’s early support, the transcripts suggest. 

According to the transcripts, a conversation between erstwhile Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Clinton on July 10, 1993, pointed to a productive exchange on a variety of issues, including progress on non-proliferation. 
At the same time, the transcripts reveal that Clinton, while thanking Yelstin for his support on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, “raised the issue of possible sanctions if Russia does not stop selling missile technologies to India”. “There should be no sanctions between friends. I cannot imagine sanctions between us,’’ Yelstin told Clinton. 

In a telephone conversation on June 28, 1993, Clinton raised with Yelstin a Russian deal to supply missile technologies to India.

“Without Russia cancelling the deal, the US might have to apply sanctions and Clinton would be limited in his ability to provide financial assistance,’’ the transcripts state. 

Yelstin explained to Clinton that the agreement with India is important for the Russian defence industry which, he said, was trying to maintain production and keep its highly trained specialists.

According to the transcripts, Clinton pushed hard on this and linked it to a decision to give Russia access to the market for space launches and oil and gas investments.

Spying on India

NSA had spied on BJP, PPP: WikiLeaks

US NSA had spied on BJP: WikiLeaks, April 11, 2017: The Times of India

Global whistleblower agency WikiLeaks reported that United States National Security Agency had been authorised to spy on foreign-based political organisations, including BJP and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

According to the Express Tribune, a classified document revealed that NSA had been sanctioned to spy on most countries and some international bodies and political parties under the FISA court certification.

The Washington Post report said that under a 2010 certification approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), NSA had the permission to spy on 193 foreign governments and foreign factions, political organisations and other entities.

The NSA was also authorised to spy on international bodies such as the UN, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and many others.

The issue came to the fore as WikiLeaks claimed that NSA recently hacked into Pakistan's mobile networking systems.“Hundreds of NSA cyber weapons variants publicly released, including code showing hacking of Pakistan mobile system,“ the agency tweeted.

Traditions honoured

Indian traditions honoured in the USA

Diwali at the White House

Manasvi Mamgai, October 21, 2017: The Times of India

White House security entrance at 2:15 PM on Tuesday, October 17: There are six Indians in immaculate sherwanis that the secret service is trying to clear through by matching their passports or drivers' licenses to the information they have on their computers. Four clear and two have problems. One of them is me. The problem is my passport has no last name. Even though I have met with candidate Trump, President-Elect Trump, and then President Trump, at least a dozen times, it's never been at the White House.

Diwali at the White House was scheduled to begin at 3:15 pm. For 30 minutes four different White House officials tried to get me cleared, but these secret service guys refused to break the protocol no matter who the visitor. It is 3:00 PM now. Outside, I was all smiles, but inside I was panicking at the thought of missing the event for which I had flown in from Los Angeles. One senior official announced that the President was running 10 minutes late, so I breathe slightly easier. Finally, seeing no solution in sight, the Secret Service offer a way out - I could go in as long as I am escorted by an official all the time. Three members of our group of six had already gone in, and finally the rest of us dash to the Roosevelt room, right next to the Oval Office. Just in time at 3:30 pm.

The decor at the Roosevelt room was awesome with at least six marine officers to assist you as well as keep you in line. There were a total of 26 guests, most of them currently working for the Trump administration such as Nikki Haley, Seema Verma, Ajit Pai, Raj Shah, Vanilla Singh, along with six members of the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) that had played a major role in the election of President Trump. I am the RHC India Ambassador.

After a 10-minute wait in the Roosevelt room, all 26 of us line up in the Oval Office. President Trump walks in, and comes over to us, the Kumar family which includes my dad Shalabh "Shalli" Kumar, his son Vikram Aditya Kumar and of course me.

See the last time Mr Kumar met President Trump, his first question to him was "Where is your daughter?" They had really connected during the candlelight dinner on January 19, the day before the inauguration, with Trumps, including First Lady Melania and First daughter Ivanka, spending almost 45 minutes with the Kumars. During their chat, Mr Kumar corrected him on the number of Hindu Americans in the US being 4.2 million and not 2 million. "That is even better," Trump said. The President then proceeded to read his statement and light the diya with Nikki Haley and Seema Verma to his right and Shalabh Kumar and me to his left. After the lighting of the diya, President reminisced with the Kumars about the New Jersey rally he had attended last year with wall-to-wall attendance. President acknowledged the fact that the "Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar" was successful in causing a seismic Hindu American shift from 16% for Romney to 65% for Trump. Kumar suggested that we hold another rally, this time with 50,000 people to which President told the attendees: "If there is someone who can pull it off, it is him."

Shalabh went on to say: "Today, we celebrate Diwali to welcome home the greatest among men, Lord Rama after killing the evil king who was terrorizing India. Since then, for over 10,000 years, Hindus all over the world pray on this day of Diwali to bring back Ram Rajya, the governance of good. I had predicted right after your inauguration that you had the potential of bringing Ram Rajya to the United States of America. Despite some hurdles in the Congress, you have done a great job so far." The Oval Office erupted with applause.

While the other guests left the Oval Office, President asked the Kumar family to stay back. This probably messed up the schedule General John Kelly chalked out for him but he seemed cool with it.

The president and General Kelly spent the next 30 minutes talking to the Kumars on a whole host of subjects and getting feedback on how the Trump administration is doing from the perspective of the younger generation and US-India-Pakistan-China relations.

Ups and downs

The Times of India, Jun 07 2016

Chidanand Rajghatta 

Irony and paradox thrive in ties between India & US

Irony and paradox abound in India-US relations. Some of it will be evident when Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his fourth trip to the US in two years with a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington just outside Washington DC, a monument to the fallen in the many wars America fought, some of which invited New Delhi's skepticism. Among them was the Vietnam War, the memorial to which is across from Arlington, and is made of black granite imported from Bangalore, at a time when India was an American bête-noire because of its mute acquiescence to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Pakistan and China were looked on favourably , but Indian doctors and engineers continued to stream into the US. Today , the US and India are partners in Afghanistan and beyond, leery of the China-Pakistan axis.

As Modi greets some of Indian-American elites at Blair House across from the White House ahead of his meeting with President Obama on Tuesday morning, US secretary of state John Kerry will be in Beijing trying to persuade China, which even today sends twice as many students to the US as India, to lift its blockade on India's entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.Support from the Swiss would have heartened New Delhi as the Prime Minister headed out from Geneva to Washington DC, but NSG membership issue may not rank very high in Kerry's engagement with the Chinese in course of their annual bilateral dialogue that has gotten a little testy of late over primacy and territorial issues in the South China Sea.

In 2008, President George Bush picked up the phone to talk to China President Hu Jintao at a crucial moment to swing a waiver that enabled the civil nuclear deal for India.The atmosphere is not as propitious now, with China digging its heels over shepherding Pakistan into the NSG on India's coattails. But if every other country in the 48-member club -which ironically was formed in the aftermath of India's 1974 nuclear test to quarantine New Delhi -expresses its support for India's entry , then it will be Beijing that will have to contend with being isolated. China threw in the towel in 2008; most analysts think it is less likely now.

All of which points to China being the elephant in the room -and Pakistan the mouse -when Modi meets Obama in the Oval Office at 11 am on Tuesday (8.30 pm IST).Although the two sides are expected to engage on a raft of other issues, from discussing nuclear reactors to returning stolen antiques, Chi na will loom large, because, in the words of Ashley Tellis, a Carnegie Endowment scholar who has studied the issue extensively , “'US today sees India as a security partner of choice in the broader Indo-Pacific region.“ Everything else is subsumed by that great pivot.Even when it comes to trade, an area where US-China engagement has so far dwarfed US-India exchanges by a huge margin, some experts think Washington is starting to look towards New Delhi as China starts to slow down, despite doubts about India own dodgy performance.

Depending on which sector or constituency they belong to, experts break up the agenda for the visit into parts -from securing the NSG membership to military cooperation agreements to purchase of nuclear reactors to defense engagement to trade, manufacturing and jobs issues. A common thread running through everything is managing the rise -and now plateauing of -China.

2005> 17

Donald Camp, July 18, 2020: The Times of India

The writer is a retired senior US foreign service officer and an adjunct fellow with the CSIS Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies

A Nuclear Accord, 15 Years Ago

Has the agreement, and US-India partnership, lived up to the 2005 hype? The answer is mixed

The visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington between July 17 and July 19, 2005, was heralded as a new beginning in the US-India partnership by both the countries. The highlight of the summit – an agreement to cooperate in civil nuclear power – was indeed path breaking as it upended the US (and international) focus on rolling back India’s nuclear weapons capabilities, and implicitly acknowledged India’s status as a nuclear weapons power. Fifteen years later, has the agreement – and the partnership – lived up to the hype? The answer is mixed.

First, although the US-India partnership did not begin in 2005, it certainly found its breakthrough moment that year. The groundwork had been laid in the Clinton administration’s efforts to dig out of the low point of bilateral relations – the aftermath of the Indian nuclear tests in May 1998. President Bill Clinton visited India in March 2000 and gave India the respect it wanted after the tests, but he did not envision breaking with non-proliferation policy and accepting India’s new status.

That was left to President Bush’s national security advisor (and later secretary of state) Condoleezza Rice who came into office in 2001 – determined to cement a strong partnership with a rising India – and drove the administration with single-mindedness towards that goal. With the help of her foreign policy strategist, undersecretary of state Nick Burns, she fought off the non-proliferation purists at home and abroad who warned that cooperation with a country which had not signed – and did not intend to sign – the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would encourage other countries to develop nuclear weapons. Second, the US-India relationship has continued to grow since 2005 but not in the way the agreement had intended. There has been no great cooperation in civilian nuclear energy; in fact, no contract has been signed with a US company towards that end till today. Of the two American nuclear engineering giants, General Electric (builder of India’s Tarapur reactor in the 1960s) had left the business and Westinghouse was sold to Toshiba in 2006.

India itself has not committed to the great transition to nuclear power it once envisioned. Russia and France are the major nuclear suppliers to India, though Westinghouse was promised a contract for six reactors in 2016, before its bankruptcy in 2017. Today solar and other renewable energy sources are attracting more attention and investment.

Nevertheless, the hype over a new “strategic partnership” at the 2005 summit was justified. The Bush and Singh administrations both faced significant domestic opposition to the nuclear deal but showed their commitment and pushed the plan through obstacles at the Nuclear Suppliers Group and in their own legislatures. Today, in both countries, the idea of a partnership has become a bipartisan one; it turned out to be, as Prime Minister Vajpayee had said years earlier – a natural partnership.

The nuclear agreement – and the mutual trust that it engendered – opened the doors to a whole range of cooperation that had been closed or limited before. Technology transfer and space cooperation are two areas that have benefited. Military-to-military ties and defence procurement have boomed. And intelligence cooperation demonstrated its merit after the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008.

There has not been a similar grand step forward in US-India relations since 2005. President Obama, though, took a big step in 2010 by adopting a policy that the Bush administration had explicitly rejected – support for India as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It was not quite a call to action – “in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” but it responded to one of India’s highest foreign policy priorities. President Trump repeated the pledge when he travelled to India in 2020.

Finally, it’s impossible to ignore the role of China in US-India relations. The rise of China was part of the US administration’s rationale in 2005 for building a stronger relationship with India. At that time, India was happy to share intelligence and policy views but took the position that it did not care to be played as a card in some larger Asian strategic game focused on China.

Over fifteen years, China’s increasing global power as well as its territorial ambitions in both the Himalayas and the South China Sea have significantly worsened China’s relations with both India and the US. After border clashes in recent years in Doklam and now Aksai Chin, India seems less hesitant about a partnership explicitly aimed at containing China. In addition to new arms sales, there is a renewed commitment to the “Quad”, the informal mechanism for security discussions and more between Japan, the US, India and Australia. The current US administration would be delighted to have India buy in more completely to its Indo-Pacific strategy.

The Bush administration is often disparaged today for its problematic, and occasionally disastrous, foreign policies. But when it came to India, secretary Rice and President Bush knew exactly what they were doing in 2005. Then foreign secretary Shyam Saran quotes Bush telling Manmohan Singh that he did not care if India did not buy a single reactor; the deal was about the larger significance of the US-India relationship. The significance of the relationship has grown strategically and dramatically over the last fifteen years; that is in large part a dividend of the deal struck in 2005.

2017/ Ties grow stronger

December 25, 2017: The Times of India


India was the only country for which the Trump administration came out with a 100-year plan; an honour not accorded to even America's top allies

It is also for the first time that the US has aligned itself with India's position on One Belt One Road of China

Among the differences, the most prominent is the issue of the H-1B visas

India has refused to succumb to any pressure when it comes to the interest of its own people

India-US relationship made great strides in 2017, with President Donald Trump keeping his electoral promise of being the "best friend of India" inside the White House.

India was the only country for which the Trump administration came out with a 100-year plan; an honour not accorded to even America's top allies.

Not only Trump administration rechristened the Asia Pacific region as Indo-Pacific, much to the anxiety of China, giving a greater role and space for New Delhi in the entire region, but also for the first time the United States stated in clear terms that India is a key player in Afghanistan.

As Trump announced his South Asia Policy - giving India a key role in bringing peace in the war-torn nation - in August, for the first time a US president aligned himself with New Delhi's position that terrorism emanates from Pakistan. While many critics would say that it still remains in the realms of rhetoric, top officials of the Trump administration assert that it would be a "big mistake" on the part of Pakistan if it did not take seriously the words of Trump. President Trump released his first National Security Strategy, which described India as a "leading global power" and stressed on deepening US' strategic partnership with New Delhi and support its leadership role in maintaining security in the Indo-Pacific region.

"2017 has been an important year for the US-India relationship," said acting deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asia Tom Vajda.

"United by our common interests and goals, our bilateral relationship in 2017 focused on what we can do together to promote peace and security throughout the world, particularly in the Indo-Pacific; combat terrorist threats; strengthen our defence and security ties; increase free and reciprocal trade; and build out energy linkages," he said.

As President Trump said during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Washington, "the relationship between India and the United States has never been stronger, has never been better," the top state department official said. It is also for the first time that the US has aligned itself with India's position on One Belt One Road of China.

Before heading for India, secretary of state Rex Tillerson on his India-policy speech sketched out the administration's policy on OBOR, on the lines of that of India and reiterated New Delhi's argument that there is need to come out with an alternative to Chinese model of predatory financing to countries which eats into their sovereignty.

Not only this, led by defence secretary Jim Mattis, the entire administration raised the sovereignty issue of China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which pases through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

While the ground work of the relationship was being laid by officials on both sides - in particular foreign secretary S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit K Doval - in the first six months of the year, when they held multiple visits or hosted senior White House officials, it is the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Trump at the White House on June 26, which is said to be a landmark and a turning point in the bilateral relationship this year.

The joint statement issued laid out the broader parameters of the relationship.

Modi and Trump have met twice this year and have spoken over phone multiple times.

The two have developed strong friendship and are working together to take the relationship to a new height that would not only benefit India and the US but also the entire world.

Modi's visit was quickly followed by defence secretary Jim Mattis and Tillerson travelling to India.

Trump's daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump led the US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad that was co-hosted by India and the US.

"We were incredibly proud to co-host the very successful Global Entrepreneurship Summit with India in November," Vajda said.

"Our militaries once again showed their ability to operate together with the MALABAR naval exercise off the coast of Chennai, and our two armies came together in Washington State for the Yudh Abhyas exercise to hone their skills in counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations," he said.

"Our economic relationship continues to grow, led by sales in US civil aviation, military equipment, and, for the first time, crude oil as we seek to expand and balance our trade relationship," Vajda added. Trump also appointed a veteran India hand, Kenneth Juster, as the new US Ambassador to New Delhi this November.

"We look forward to continuing to grow our partnership in 2018," Vajda said.

At a time when both the Republicans and Democrats are rarely having any meeting ground including foreign policy, India-US relationship emerged as one of the rare of the rarest meeting ground between a Republican White House and the opposition Democratic party.

"I think this year proved that the US/India partnership is a bipartisan priority," former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma told PTI.

"This relationship has not only weathered the storm of global uncertainty, it has proven to be a great stabiliser as well," said Verma, the first Indian-American envoy to India.

Nisha Desai Biswal, Obama administration's point person for South and Central Asia, echoed the same.

"While 2017 has been a very dynamic year in the US on the political front, there has been remarkable stability on the US-India partnership, a continuing priority for the United States in the Trump administration," Biswal told PTI.

She said the Trump administration has also framed the strategic importance of US-India partnership across the Indo- Pacific in very bold and unequivocal terms.

Now president of US-India Business Council (USIBC), Biswal said this bodes well for greater growth in defence collaboration.

As President of USIBC, Biswal said she is also focused on the state of overall bilateral trade and the commercial ties. "We are optimistic that the way forward will see fewer hurdles and an easier path for much needed investment," Biswal said.

As is the case with all bilateral ties, there are a couple of issues that the two sides need to work on to resolve their differences.

Prominent among them is the issue of the H-1B visas, which attracts foreign specialised workers to come to the US for employment, many of them from India and China.

The Modi government has strongly taken up the issue with the Trump administration.

Similarly, India has refused to succumb to any pressure when it comes to the interest of its own people. This was quite evident in the recently concluded WTO talks.

The US has expressed its disappointment over India's position on several issues being talked about at the WTO.

The two-plus-two dialogue which was announced during Modi-Trump meeting is expected to be held before spring as officials from the two sides are trying to find a common date. Officials are also looking at a possibility of Trump travelling to India sometime in 2018.

US Presidents who visited India


US Presidents who visited India, 1959-2015
From: Indrani Bagchi, February 23, 2020: The Times of India

See graphic:

US Presidents who visited India, 1959-2015

Meetings between Modi and Trump


Meetings between Modi and Trump, 2017-2019
From: Indrani Bagchi, February 23, 2020: The Times of India

See graphic:

Meetings between Modi and Trump, 2017-2019

US Presidents and the Indian Republic Day

Clinton said no to Rao's R-Day invite The Times of India Jan 25, 2015

Former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had invited then United States President Bill Clinton to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 1995.

Clinton, however, turned it down saying the dates clashed with his State of The Union address, former foreign secretary K Srinivasan, who served in the Rao regime, revealed in a television show. Srinivasan said that he had called up Strobe Talbott to extend the invite, but he replied in the negative after a few hours.

The expenses of a Presidential visit

As in 2020

The expenses of a Presidential visit, As in 2020
From: February 25, 2020: The Times of India

See graphic:

The expenses of a Presidential visit, As in 2020

Visa issues

India's concern

See graphic.

Visa issues, why India is concerned

Visa issues, why India is concerned; The Times of India, April 1, 2017

1990-2013, timeline

The Times of India, February 8, 2017

US President Donald Trump is said to be preparing to issue executive orders on H-1B visas as part of larger immigration reform efforts, which could impact technology companies such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS that use these visas to send Indian professionals to the US.

H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that enables the visa holder to work in a "specialty occupation, in the US for three years, with extensions possible in most cases.

1. 1990: Birth of H-1B Visa

Started under President George H Bush, who signed The Immigration Act, 1990, increasing legal immigration by 40%, the total number of years of visa stay allowed was six years including a three year extension. The H-1B cap was 65,000 and the base filing fees was $365.

2. ACWIA Act doubles H-1B visa allocation

The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act was enacted during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Under the Act, the number of H-1B visas allotted nearly doubled from 65,000 to 115,000 for the fiscal years 1999 and 2000 respectively.

An amount of $500 was added to the base filing fees of $365 to fund the scholarship and training programme.

3. AC21 Act makes it easy for H-1B visa holders to change company

American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act was enacted to change rules related to H-1B portability and increase the annual cap quota.

AC21 makes it easier for H-1B workers to change employers in certain situations. This Act, under Clinton, raised the cap to 195,000 for fiscal years 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively.

4. 2005: Consolidated Appropriations Act reduces the number of H-1B visas granted

The Consolidated Appropriations Act came into effect under George W Bush. It reduced the annual H-1B cap to 65,000 and introduced a separate pool of 20,000 H-1B visas under the H-1B Advanced Degree Exemption for people having a US Master's degree. It introduced anti-fraud fees of $500.

5. 2013: Visa Reforms Act 2013 seeks to cut down on visa fraud

The H-1B Visa Reforms Act came under President Barack Obama in the year 2013.

The Act aimed to cut down the inconsistencies in the H-1B visa programme with a focus to prevent misuse and fraud.

Visa- refusal rate: 2006, 2016

See graphic:

Visa- refusal rate- 2006- 2016

Visa- refusal rate- 2006- 2016
From: November 24, 2017: The Times of India

H1B Visas

Ashish Kumar Sen , Restricted Access “India Today” 20/2/2017 See graphic.

2014: H-1B visas

Source: The Times of India

1. The Times of India, Aug 13 2015

2. The Times of India, Aug 13 2015, Houston

`In 2014, US granted 86% of H-1B visas to Indians'

Almost 86% of H-1B visas that the US granted to IT employees in 2014 went to Indians, a Computerworld analysis of government data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows. Most of those H-1B visa holders work for outsourcing companies such as Infosys and TCS.

China was far behind in second place at 5% of H-1B visas for IT occupations; no other nation rose above 1%, according to data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. About 76,000 H-1B visas were issued to software professionals in 2014.  IT companies “apparently cannot get enough Indian programmers, which has little to do with a shortage of competent natives for these types of jobs, but a lot to do with the industry's business model,“ said Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at Georgetown University's Institute. “Young H-1B programmers are in demand because the visa offers control over this contracted shortterm workforce, it permits them to pay less than experienced natives and ability to cultivate programmers who can better serve their clients after returning to India“, Lowell said.

In case of H-1B visas for engineers, Indian workers are still on top with 47% of the visas, or 8,103, followed by China with 19.5%.

2015-16: H-1B visas

See graphics:

Approvals (2016), for Indians, outsourcing companies

H1-B visas: the position as in 2015

Approvals (2016), for Indians, outsourcing companies; The Times of India, April 22, 2017
H1-B visas: the position as in 2015; The Times of India, April 5, 2017

2016: Pak sees 40% decline, India a 28% increase

Pak sees 40% dip in US visas, India's rises by 28% in 2 mths, May 30, 2017: The Times of India

Pakistan has had a 40% drop in the number of visas granted to its nationals under the Trump administration despite not being on the list of US's travel ban countries.

Interestingly , the number of non-immigrant US visas to Indians has increased by 28% in March and April this year as compared to the monthly average of the previous year, according to the monthly official data. Indian nationals received 87,049 visas in April and 97,925 visas in March in 2016.

Pakistanis were issued 3,925 non-immigrant visas in April and 3,973 visas in March.The Obama administration last year issued 78,637 visas to Pakistan with a monthly average of 6,553, 40% higher than the current average.

A spokesperson said, “Visa demand is cyclical, not uniform and affected by various factors. Visa issuance numbers tend to increase during peak travel seasons... though there may be different trends at the country , nationality, or visa-category level.“ Experts believe the drop may indicate more visa applicants are now subject to excessive scrutiny .

2017, Jan-Sep: Despite 4% dip, India remains no.1, gets 63% of visas

Lubna Kably, Despite 4% dip, Indians get 63% of H-1B visas, May 9, 2018: The Times of India

2017- Despite a 4% dip from 2016, India remained no.1 and got 63% of the H-1B visas
From: Lubna Kably, Despite 4% dip, Indians get 63% of H-1B visas, May 9, 2018: The Times of India

The number of H-1B visas for “initial employment” issued to Indians dipped by 4% in the 12-month period ending September 30, 2017. In all, 67,815 visas were approved by the US for Indian aspirants as compared to 70,737 in the 2016 fiscal.

According to immigration experts, the 4% drop indicates two ground realities: “extreme vetting” and a higher rejection rate during processing, reflecting the protectionist policies under President Trump; and higher local hiring by large Indian IT players such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro.

Despite this drop, Indians were the largest group of H-1B beneficiaries.

They bagged 63% of the total 1.08 lakh visas issued for initial employment in the period. In fiscal 2016, Indian beneficiaries constituted 62% of the 1.14 lakh visas granted.

Over 75% of H-1B applicants Indian

In aggregate, 2.76 lakh beneficiaries of the total 3.65 lakh H-1B applications in 2017 (or 75.6%) were born in India. These statistics were disclosed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in its recent report: Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers.

“The number of beneficiaries from India approved for initial employment decreased by 4.1% in fiscal 2017, while the number of beneficiaries approved for continuing employment increased by 12.5%,” it said. Applications for initial employment are filed for first-time employment in the US under the H-1B visa route, which is a popular work visa, especially for India’s technology sector.

Post-September 2017, procedural changes such as greater strictures for H-1B aspirants working at thirdparty client sites have been issued. The US also plans to tighten the H-1B policy further by changing the definition of “specialisation occupation,” which will narrow job opportunities for Indian aspirants. It also plans to hike the minimum wage rate for H-1B visa holders from $60,000 per year to $90,000 or more, making it more expensive to hire expats. Fiscal 2017 saw a median salary of $85,000.

“This downward trend in the number of visas for new beneficiaries is likely to continue and the drop in numbers may be sharper in fiscal 2018 and beyond,” said an inhouse immigration expert of a technology company.

“I expect a 5-10 times increase in denials. I am seeing a lot of movement within my clientele towards setting up operations in Canada. This brain drain from US may not be obvious right away, but will definitely affect its lead in science and technology,” pointed out Rajiv S Khanna, managing attorney at

Annually, only 85,000 visas are issued for initial employment by the US authorities (which includes the US Master’s cap of 20,000). Apart from being the largest constituents for initial employment, in aggregate, 2.76 lakh beneficiaries of the total 3.65 lakh applicants (or 75.6%) were born in India.

2017/ 93% of H-4 visa approved work authorisation from India: US report

93% of H-4 visa approved work authorisation from India: US report May 12, 2018: The Times of India


The report said that over one-fifth of the H-4 visa holders with work authorisation live in California

As of December 25, 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services had approved 126,853 applications for employment authorisation for H-4 visa holders

A staggering 93 per cent of the total H-4 visa holders in the US having work authorisation are from India, a latest Congressional report on the spouse visa has said. Over one-fifth of the H-4 visa holders with work authorisation live in California, it said.

Ninety-three per cent of granted applications for employment authorisation were issued to women; seven per cent to men, according to the report on H-4 visas by the independent Congressional Research Service of the US Congress, which prepares periodic reports on issues of interest to US lawmakers.

"Ninety-three per cent of approved applications for H-4 employment authorisation were issued to individuals born in India, and five per cent were issued to individuals born in China. Individuals born in all other countries combined make up the remaining two per cent of approved applications," CRS said in its nine-page report.

As of December 25, 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services had approved 126,853 applications for employment authorisation for H-4 visa holders. These count all approvals since May 2015 when the rule was implemented.

This number includes 90,946 initial approvals, 35,219 renewals, and 688 replacements for lost cards.

H-4 visa holders are not geographically constrained by law, and approvals for employment authorisation documents have been issued to H-4 non-immigrants living in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories. California accounts for more than one-fifth (28,033), and Texas and New Jersey together account for another 20 per cent.

Before 2015, H-4 visa holders were not eligible for work authorisation.

As the visa queue increased for individuals in particular those from India and China awaiting employment-based legal permanent resident (LPR) status, policymakers and others raised concerns about the lack of employment authorisation for spouses hindering the US' ability to attract and retain highly educated workers.

In 2015 Federal Register issued a notice establishing work authorisation for certain H-4 spouses referred to three anticipated benefits: reducing personal and financial burdens on H-1B and H-4 non-immigrants, reducing disruption to the US businesses and attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers.

The previous Obama administration argued that allowing H-4 spouses to work would support the US economy because H-1B non-immigrants and their spouses have historically made significant contributions to entrepreneurship and research and development.

Finally, this rule may facilitate attracting and retaining highly skilled workers by bringing US immigration policies more in line with those of other countries that compete for similarly skilled workers, it said.

Unlike work authorisation for H-1B visa holders, employment authorisation that is granted based on H-4 status is not restricted to a specific employer and does not require the employer to get approval from the Department of Labour.

H-4 work authorisation also does not prohibit self-employment, starting a business, or hiring employees.

However, under its America First Policy, the Trump administration is proposing to remove from regulation H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of foreign nationals eligible for employment authorisation.

The result would be that H-4 visa holders would not have authorisation to work in the US.

The administration anticipates publishing the proposed rule in the Federal Register in June 2018, which would be followed by a public comment period before a final rule would be published, CRS said.

While H-4 EADs have been issued to residents of almost 4,000 cities across the US, CRS said the cities with the highest numbers are around large "tech hubs" such as the Silicon Valley, northern New Jersey, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, the Washington, DC, region and Atlanta.

CRS said Congress has considered several related pieces of legislation.

The Immigration Innovation Act of 2018 (S.2344), as introduced in the 115th Congress, would codify the current regulation providing work authorisation to H-4 spouses of certain H-1B non-immigrants and would require the employer of the H-4 spouse to attest that they will pay her or him the greater of the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area of employment or the actual wage paid to other workers in the same job with similar qualifications (i.e., applying the same pay standard to the hiring of H-4 visa holders as is applied to their H-1B spouses).

Previous versions of this bill (S.153, as introduced in the 114th Congress, and S.169, as introduced in the 113th Congress) would have provided employment authorisation to the spouse of any H-1B or L (intra-company transferee) non-immigrant, regardless of whether the H-1B or L non-immigrant had begun the process of obtaining LPR status.

These bills would not have required labour attestation.

Likewise, immigration reform bills in the 113th Congress (S.744, as passed by the Senate, and HR 15, as introduced) would have provided employment authorisation to the spouse of any H1B or L non-immigrant, regardless of whether the H-1B or L non-immigrant had begun the process of obtaining LPR status.

Massive H-1B denial rates for Indian IT companies

Nov 6, 2019: The Times of India

Key Highlights

At least 12 companies that provide professional or IT services to other US firms had denial rates of over 30% through the first three quarters of fiscal 2019

The denial rate for H-1B petitions for continuing employment was also high for Indian IT companies

WASHINGTON: As a result of the more restrictive Trump administration policies, denial rates for H-1B petitions have increased significantly from just six per cent in 2015 to 24 per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal, a study carried out by an American think-tank has showed.

The study by the National Foundation for American Policy, based on data received from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS, also reflects that denial rate for H-1B visas is highest among major Indian IT companies, thus giving credence to charges that Indian companies are being unduly targeted by the current administration. For instance, the denial rate of H-1B petitions for initial employment for Amazon, Microsoft, Intel and Google in 2015 was just one per cent. In 2019, the same increased respectively to six, eight, seven and three per cent. The denial rate for Apple remained the same at two per cent.

During the same period, the denial rate jumped from four per cent to 41 per cent for Tech Mahindra, from six per cent to 34 per cent for Tata Consultancy Services, from seven per cent to 53 per cent for Wipro and from just two per cent to 45 per cent for Infosys, the study showed. At least 12 companies that provide professional or IT services to other US companies, including Accenture, Capgemini and others, had denial rates of over 30 per cent through the first three quarters of fiscal 2019. Most of these companies had denial rates between two per cent and seven per cent as recently as in 2015, it said.

The denial rate for H-1B petitions for continuing employment was also high for Indian IT companies. For Tech Mahindra, it increased from two per cent to 16 per cent during the same period, while that of Wipro increased from four per cent to 19 per cent, and Infosys from one per cent to 29 per cent, the study showed.

On the other hand, the denial rates for H-1B petitions for continuing employment among major American companies were low - Amazon (from one per cent to three per cent), Microsoft (remained at two per cent), Intel (from one per cent to three per cent), Apple (remained at one per cent) and for Google, it increased from 0.4 per cent in 2015 to one per cent in 2019.

Noting that between 2015 and 2019, the denial rate for new H-1B petitions for initial employment quadrupled from six to 24 per cent, the National Foundation for American Policy said to put this in perspective, between 2010 and 2015, the denial rate for "initial" H-1B petitions never exceeded eight per cent, while today the rate is three times higher. "A key goal of the Trump administration - achieved through memos and policy changes - has been to make it more difficult for well-educated foreign nationals to work in America in science and engineering fields," the foundation said.

In the first three quarters of fiscal 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudicators denied 24 per cent of H-1B petitions for "initial" employment and 12 per cent of H-1B petitions for "continuing" employment, it said.

The 12 per cent denial rate for continuing employment is also historically high. It was only three per cent in 2015, the think-tank said. "Based on how the agency processes cases, this data suggests the environment has not improved for employers," Lynden Melmed, a partner at Berry Appleman & Leiden and former chief counsel for USCIS, said.

"'Cream of the crop' cases would have been approved during that time period, but cases where the government issued a Request for Evidence would likely not show up in that data set because they would not be decided until much later," he said.

A research by Britta Glennon, assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, found that "restrictive H-1B policies could not only be exporting more jobs and businesses to countries like Canada, but they also could be making the US's innovative capacity fall behind".

In response to being unable to hire high-skilled foreign nationals, US companies increase their hiring overseas, which causes more innovation by foreign nationals to take place in other countries, benefiting those nations, the think-tank said.

H-1B visa restrictions, such as those now being implemented by the administration, push jobs outside the United States and lead to less innovation in America, it said.


Denial rates for H-1B visas for initial employment, 2009-19.
From: June 24, 2020: The Times of India

See graphic:

Denial rates for H-1B visas for initial employment, 2009-19.

H1 B visas: Denial rate

2009-19: for Indians

2015, ’19: company-wise

Denial rates for H-1B visas for initial employment, company-wise- 2015, 2019
From: June 25, 2020: The Times of India

See graphic:

Denial rates for H-1B visas for initial employment, company-wise: 2015, 2019.



US Pacific Command is now Indo-Pacific Command

Chidanand Rajghatta, US Pacific Command is now Indo-Pacific Command, June 1, 2018: The Times of India

Invoking the geographical expanse “from California to India” and the cultural spread “from Hollywood to Bollywood”, the Trump administration on Wednesday announced the renaming of the US Pacific Command as the US Indo-Pacific Command.

In a clear nod to India and a shot across China’s bow, US defense secretary Jim Mattis told journalists in Hawaii, where the command is headquartered, that he directed the name change to signal America’s commitment to ensure that every country “no matter its size… is not bound by any nation’s predatory economics or threat of coercion”.

It was a clear reference to China’s growing assertiveness in the region at the expense of smaller nations.

“If you notice, there’s only one country that seems to take active steps to rebuff them or state their resentment of them. But they’re international waters and a lot of nations want to see freedom of navigation,” Mattis said, calling out Beijing for breaking a 2015

promise to never militarise disputed islands in the region.

China has “done exactly that”, moving weaponry in that were never there before, and while the US is going out of its way to cooperate with the Pacific nations, “we’re also going to confront what we believe is out of step with international law and out of step with international tribunals that have spoken on the issue”, Mattis said.

The change in PACOM’s nomenclature and the tough remarks on China came just hours ahead of the Shangri-la defence dialogue in Singapore where eminence grises of the world’s strategic community,

including several world leaders (PM Modi too) are attending. Mattis is expected to call on Modi later on Thursday.

It is a largely symbolic move to underline India’s growing importance for the Pentagon at a time when Washington is also trying to pressure New Delhi to shun buying new weapon systems from Russia. The renaming recognises India’s increasing military relevance for the US but does not mean any additional military assets would be dispatched to the Indo-Pacific immediately.

Mattis stopped in Hawaii on his way to Singapore to install Navy Adm. Phil Davidson

as the leader of the powerful Pacific Command, succeeding Harry Harris, the admiral who’s slated to become the US ambassador to South Korea.

It was Harris who described the footprint of the renamed command as spanning “Hollywood to Bollywood, polar bears to penguins”.

India has long come under the US Pacific Command, whereas Pakisan and other nations to its west come under the US Central Command. Most of the world’s trade and commerce, perhaps upwards of 80%, traverses the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, illustrating the decline of Atlantic powers.

There were several overt and oblique references in the Hawaii event to the growing assertiveness of China and the American objective of countering it, with the help of what some analysts see as a reluctant India, which barely exercises influence in its own backyard, and had to be dragged into a “look east” policy. But the US vision, Mattis said, was very clear: “It’s been consistent over many administrations — a safe and secure and free Indo-Pacific region based on shared principles that are aligned with international law.”

It is a largely symbolic move to underline India’s growing importance for the Pentagon at a time when Washington is trying to pressure New Delhi to shun buying new weapon systems from Russia. But the renaming does not mean any additional military assets would be dispatched to the Indo-Pacific immediately

India 3rd in Asia after Japan, South Korea to get STA-1

August 5, 2018: The Times of India

India has become only the third Asian country after Japan and South Korea to get the Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) status after the United States issued a federal notification to this effect, paving the way for high-technology product sales to New Delhi, particularly in civil space and defense sectors.

India is the 37th country to be designated the STA-1 status by the US. The federal notification, issued on Friday, gains significance as the Trump administration has made an exception for India, which is yet to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Traditionally, the US has placed in the STA-1 list only those countries which are members of all the four export control regimes: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Australia Group (AG) and the NSG.

In its federal notification, the Trump administration noted that India is a member of three of the four multilateral export regimes. It is mainly because of the political opposition from China that India’s membership application has been pending before the NSG, which takes decisions only by consensus. By placing India in the STA-1 list, the US has acknowledged that for all practical purposes India adheres to the export control regimes of the NSG. This exception for New Delhi is intended to send a strong political message to China and the world, taking into account that even America’s closest ally Israel is yet to be given this status, primarily because it is not a member of these multilateral export control regimes.

“This action befits India’s status as a Major Defence Partner and recognises” the country’s membership in three of the four export control regimes, the notification said. This rule is another in a series of rules that implement reforms to which the US and India mutually agreed to promote global non-proliferation, expand high technology cooperation and trade, and ultimately facilitate India’s full membership in the four multilateral export control regimes.

According to the notification, the US and India continue their commitment to work together to strengthen the global non-proliferation and export control framework and further transform bilateral export control cooperation to recognise the full potential of the global strategic partnership between the two countries.

This commitment has been realised in the two countries’ mutually agreed upon steps to expand cooperation in civil space, defense, and other high-technology sectors and the complementary steps of the US to realign India in US export control regulations, and support India's membership in the four multilateral export control regimes, it said.

To date, with the effective support of the US, India has been admitted to three of the four multilateral export control regimes, the MTCR on June 27, 2016, the Wassenaar Arrangement on December 7, 2017, and the Australia Group on January 19, 2018. These memberships, important to the two countries’ global strategic partnership, are enhanced by the US’ recognition of India as a major defence partner in the India-US joint statement of June 7, 2016 titled ‘The United States and India: Enduring Global Partners in the 21st Century’. “This recognition facilitates and supports India’s military modernisation efforts with the US as a reliable provider of advanced defense articles,” the notification further says.

The federal notification states that because India has been admitted to the MTCR, Wassenaar and AG multilateral regimes and is a major defence partner, it is listed in favoured country groups for purposes of license requirements, license application review policy and availability of license exceptions. Membership in favoured country groups generally reduces the number of licenses required and increases the number of license exceptions available. “Therefore... this rule will reduce the paperwork burden to the public,” the notification said.

Significantly, the US did away with the public notification period before issuing this notification. “This rule implements decisions of multilateral export control regimes, of which the US is a supporting member, and the rule furthers the objectives of the strategic commitment established between the US and India,” the notification said, while observing that delay in implementing the rule would undermine the foreign policy objectives it is intended to implement. India so far was in STA-2 with Albania, Hong Kong, Israel, Malta, Singapore, South Africa and Taiwan.

2+2 talks set strategic direction; Pact With US Defence Unit A Takeaway

Indrani Bagchi, September 9, 2018: The Times of India

Pact With US Defence Unit A Big Takeaway

The ‘2+2’ dialogue, held for the first time at the foreign and defence ministers’ level, set India’s strategic direction firmly with the US. Held after two delays, sources in the Indian government indicated they had reasons to feel satisfied.

While signing the COMCASA with the US, a landmark agreement that has huge implications for India-US defence and security relations, India persisted in its demand for a ‘Make in India’ component for defence trade with the US. Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Swaraj made another pitch with the US for the defence relationship to be more than a “buyer-seller” one. The US reluctantly agreed to put this in the joint statement, which said, the two countries “committed to explore other means to support further expansion in two-way trade in defence items and defence manufacturing supply chain linkages.” Whether this becomes an ultimate reality or not will depend on how defence manufacturing takes off in India, and whether there is any traction in the US defence industry for components from India.

Despite the COMCASA signalling much closer cooperation between India and US, the Indians wanted to maintain their “autonomous” space. Accordingly, the joint statement described the “two countries are strategic partners, major and independent stakeholders in world affairs.”

A big takeaway was the pact with the US’ Defense Innovation Unit — unlike in the past when the US’ DARPA was at the cutting edge of innovation which then spread to the civilian world, more and more innovations today are being made in the civilian sector, in Silicon Valley, which could have defence and security applications. With this agreement, India will have a presence in this unit in Silicon Valley, hoping to do its bit for the next-generation innovation in defence technology.

Three India-specific formulations distinguished the COMCASA from the CISMOA — there would be no disruption during the life cycle of the equipment; the India data generated would not be disclosed or transferred, and national security concerns would be addressed. While the purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia was not raised by the Indian side, the US side indicated that India would not be sanctioned for its legacy platforms. But fresh purchases would fall under the purview of CAATSA. That would be a potential problem.

India might be able to wrangle a carve-out for the Chahbahar port, but oil imports would come under the scanner. Most important, there is no pact on the trade troubles that have persisted with the Trump administration. The government will be sending another delegation of officials to see if they can cobble together a package trade deal. Trump would be against it, particularly as he railed against subsidies for India.

US President Trump turns down R-Day invite due to engagements

Prez turned down R-Day invite due to engagements: US, October 31, 2018: The Times of India

US President Donald Trump could not accept India’s invitation to attend the Republic Day parade in January due to scheduling constraints but looked forward to meeting PM Narendra Modi at the earliest opportunity, a White House spokesperson said.

The statement to NDTV confirmed that India had indeed extended an invite to Trump and that the leader was unable to accept it.

In a statement, the White House spokesperson said, “President Trump was honoured by PM Modi’s invitation for him to be chief guest of India’s Republic Day on January 26, 2019, but is unable to participate due to scheduling constraints.

“The president enjoys a strong personal rapport with PM Modi developed through two meetings and several phone calls and remains committed to deepening the US-India strategic partnership. The president very much looks forward to meeting PM Modi again at the earliest opportunity.”

Since Trump will not attend the East Asia Summit in Singapore in November, the only other chance Modi has of meeting him is in Argentina during the G-20 summit. India could approach an EU leader even though former French president Francoise Hollande was the chief guest in 2016. Government sources said they had already shortlisted invites to a few heads of state, though its a little embarrassing for India to be stood up in this manner.


Rift between Democrats and Modi govt out in open

Chidanand Rajghatta, Dec 21, 2019 Times of India

WASHINGTON: The perceived rift between progressive Democratic lawmakers in U.S and the Modi government has spilled out into the open. Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has claimed that New Delhi sought to cut her out of a Congressional meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, even as visiting minister said he is not interested in meeting those who are biased and are “determined to be misled” on issues relating to India.

The reported cancellation by the Indian side of a meeting between Jaishankar and the House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by New York Democrat Eliot Engel made news on the Hill even on Impeachment Day given the background to the story. Progressive Democrats led by the so-called squad, including Somali-American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, have been sharply critical of the Modi government’s actions in Kashmir amid disquiet among many Democrats and liberals in U.S about the direction India is taking and the personal equation between the Indian Prime Minister and President Trump which was on display at the Howdy-Modi rally in Houston.

Chennai-born Jayapal has introduced a bi-partisan resolution in the House calling for an end to the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir and for the Government of India to respect international human rights law. While recognizing the “dire security challenges faced by India in Jammu and Kashmir and the continuing threat of state-supported cross-border terrorism,” the resolution nevertheless urges rejection of “arbitrary detention, use of excessive force against civilians, and suppression of peaceful expression of dissent as proportional responses to security challenges.”

The resolution has irked New Delhi, particularly after members of the so-called squad rebuffed efforts by Indian diplomats to brief them on the issue. Diplomats who were part of the exercise to brief them said they seem to have taken an ideological position and made no effort to be open or receptive to New Delhi’s views or to facts on the ground. Omar in particular has tee’d off in hearings against the Modi government, alleging that its actions in Kashmir and Assam are part of an “overall Hindu nationalism project.”

Asked about the broad rift with Democrats and about Jayapal’s resolution, Jaishankar told reporters on Thursday that he did not think it is a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir or a fair characterization of what the Government of India is doing.“I have no interest in meeting her,” he said brusquely of the imbroglio involving Jayapal. “I have an interest in meeting people who are objective and open to discussion, but not people who have already made up their minds.”

The External Affairs Minister also rejected the notion that there was rift between Democrats and New Delhi because of the ideological dissonance. “My own sense is the support for the relationship is extremely strong in a very wide section of the 535-strong Congress (House+Senate) and among political leaders outside the Congress,” he maintained, pointing out that he met Congressman Ami Bera and Brad Sherman, who heads the sub-committee on South Asia. Bera, also Indian-American, is a member of the HFAC and newly-elected co-chair of the Caucus for India and Indian-Americans.

The perception that Democrats are leery of the close ties between Modi and Trump administration -- which first surfaced during the Howdy Modi rally where many Democrats stayed away -- will likely get a further boost after Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh got to make a courtesy call on the President in the Oval Office in the middle of the impeachment debate in the House of Representatives. Several progressive, liberal lawmakers have expressed alarm over the direction India is taking, first in Kashmir and now with the NRC-CAA muddle.

Jayapal, who is elected from a liberal district in Seattle, says her criticism of India’s action is also dictated by her constituents who care about the human rights situation in Kashmir. But Indian officials believe Pakistanis is the U.S have gamed the feedback to liberal lawmakers who have not bothered to familiarize themselves with the Kashmir issue. Besides, they pointed out that Jayapal is not a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee that Jaishankar was scheduled to meet.

On her part, Jayapal says the Indian government is intolerant of criticism. “The cancellation of this meeting was deeply disturbing. It only furthers the idea that the Indian government isn’t willing to listen to any dissent at all,” she tweeted.

She also found support from other liberals, including Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who said “efforts to silence Jayapal are deeply troubling” and tweeted that “The U.S. and India have an important partnership—but our partnership can only succeed if it is rooted in honest dialogue and shared respect for religious pluralism, democracy, and human rights.”

That in turn caused Rashida Tlaib to respond: That's because they know they are violating international human rights laws that is leading to innocent lives being lost, and causing irreparable harm to children in #Kashmir. Thank you @PramilaJayapal for speaking up for #Kashmiris.”

Trump claims Indian PM wanted Kashmir mediation. Triggers row

July 23, 2019: The Times of India

Donald Trump's Kashmir mediation comment triggers massive political row

NEW DELHI: Donald Trump's stunning claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue triggered a massive political row on Tuesday even as the government asserted that no such request was made to the US president and all issues will have to be resolved with Islamabad bilaterally.

The issue rocked both houses of Parliament with the Opposition demanding Modi's statement on Trump's controversial remarks, holding that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party can intervene. As the opposition ramped up the attack on the government, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha that Modi had never made any such request to Trump and stressed that all outstanding issues with Pakistan can be discussed only bilaterally.

"Any engagement with Pakistan will require an end to cross border terrorism," he said, adding that the Simla and Lahore accords signed between India and Pakistan provide the basis for resolution of all issues bilaterally.

The external affairs ministry made a similar statement on Monday night after Trump's controversial comments that he met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House.

Not satisfied with the government's statement, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said if Trump's claim that Modi asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue is true, the PM had betrayed the interests of the country.

Gandhi also asserted that a "weak" foreign ministry denial wouldn't do and Modi must tell the nation what transpired in the meeting between him and the US president.

"President Trump says PM Modi asked him to mediate between India & Pakistan on Kashmir! If true, PM Modi has betrayed India's interests & 1972 Shimla Agreement," the Congress leader said in a tweet.

In Washington, the State Department, in a damage control exercise, said Kashmir was a "bilateral" issue between India and Pakistan, and the US "welcomes" the two countries "sitting down" for talks.

It also said Pakistan taking "sustained and irreversible" steps against terrorism are key to a successful dialogue with India.

"While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist," a State Department spokesperson told PTI in response to a question if Donald Trump's remarks reflect a change in the country's policy on Kashmir.

In New Delhi, scores of senior opposition leaders slammed the government on the issue.

"We demand PM's clarification," TMC MP Derek O'Brien said.

Trump claimed that Modi asked him to mediate on the Kashmir issue when they met in Osaka, Japan, on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit last month.

"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know," Trump said in response to a question, adding he is ready to help, if the two countries ask for it.

"I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject (Kashmir). And he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?' I said, 'where?' (Modi said) 'Kashmir'," Trump said.

Afghanistan: US restores Pakistan’s primacy; lets down India, Kabul

Chidanand Rajghatta, July 24, 2019: The Times of India

He loves deals and thinks he has mastered the “Art of the Deal.” And the deal Pakistan sucked him into on a hot and muggy Washington afternoon was “Afghanistan exitfor-Kashmir mediation”.

Virtually reversing more than two decades of US policy in Afghanistan centering on cleansing the landlocked country from Pakistansponsored extremism that led to the 9/11 terrorist attack on America, US President Donald Trump on Monday restored Islamabad’s primacy over Kabul, saying “Pakistan is going to help us out to extricate ourselves (from Afghanistan)”. In the process, Trump threw Kabul and New Delhi under the bus while retreating from his own charges of Pakistan’s deceit and double dealing on sponsoring terrorism in the region, identifying Iran as his principal enemy and declaring (that unlike Iran) “Pakistan does not lie”. Trump had repeatedly attacked Pakistan on Twitter and on television for taking American aid and still working against the US in the region, but in 30 tumultuous minutes in the White House Oval Office, he publicly changed policy and position, claiming Pakistan did so because it did not respect his predecessors and he did not blame Islamabad for it.

In Trump’s eyes, it is not Pakistan, widely regarded in the US and the global intelligence community as the malevolent force that poisoned Afghanistan with its Taliban proxies, which is at fault or a danger to the region. It is Afghanistan which is the danger and which needs to be defeated — and he could do it quickly by eviscerating the country but he would rather not. “I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in literally in ten days. And I don’t want to do — I don’t want to go that route,” Trump said, with a bizarre digression about US weapons that could cause catastrophic damage in a nation that is a victim of foreign interference for ages.

He then explained his turnaround on Pakistan, blaming his predecessors for Pakistan’s policies.

“I don’t think Pakistan respected the United States. I don’t think Pakistan respected its presidents. I think Pakistan can do tremendous amount against — with respect to Afghanistan. They didn’t do it and I don’t blame them because they were dealing with the wrong President. Who knows? But… they’re helping us a lot now,” Trump rambled, openly displaying pique about his predecessors and bringing it into the foreign policy sphere. “I think they could have helped us a lot in the past. But it doesn’t matter. We have a new leader; he’s doing to be a great leader of Pakistan. And we have a new leader here. Sort of new; I’m two and half years now — getting to be three years, can you believe it? You’re going to find time flies,” Trump rambled on. “But, no, I think Pakistan could have done a lot but they chose not to. And that’s because they did not respect US leadership.”


PM Modi stepped in to lift ban on HCQ export

A moment when India can save lives, we can’t let it go: PM Modi, April 12, 2020: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi insisted that India help out other countries that need hydroxycholoroquine rather than opting for a blanket export ban after ensuring that there will be no deficiency for demand and buffer stock in India.

Sources present in the meeting where the decision was taken to ramp up production of the drug and make it available for countries which had requested its supply said when officials pitched for an export ban, Modi simply asked for statistics on India’s future projected consumption in the worst case scenario.

This projection would account for use by patients, close contacts and healthcare workers — as currently recommended — in keeping with production capacity. “The PM said that he wanted to seize this opportunity for India and the world. ‘This is an important moment where India can save lives and we cannot let it go,’ the PM said,” according to a source.

The PM is understood to have keenly tracked emerging research on Covid-19 and after reading about hydroxychloroquine, he called some heads of pharma companies to inquire about India’s production capacity. Coming from Gujarat, his understanding of the pharmaceutical industry proved handy and he requested companies to ramp up production. This was before President Donald Trump spoke of the drug to India, said sources.

Minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Mansukh Mandavia said, “While we went to brief the PM about India’s production capacity, he already knew most of it. He wanted us to move forward. His directive was to bring all stakeholders on board to ensure that we ramp up production immediately.”

Cadila Healthcare’s Pankaj Patel said, “PM Modi motivated the industry by saying this is the chance for India to make a mark globally. He assured us help and results are here for all to see. This month our industry produced 20 crore tablets. My company will produce APIs worth 15 crore tablets next month.”

Modi asked officials to ensure standard bureaucratic procedures do not come in the way of increasing production to meet the demands of India and other countries.

India produces 70% of the hydroxychloroquine in the world. As of now India’s need is 1.5 crore tablets and has 3.28 crore tablets which will soon reach 5 crore. State governments have also stocked these tablets which will reach 2.5 crore by end of the week.

The ‘India Model’ of proactively helping out with the medicine, said sources, is quite different from the ‘China Model’ where assistance is tied up with conditions and quality is poor. Countries from the US and Brazil to the Maldives have thanked India.

The PM is understood to have keenly tracked emerging research on Covid-19. After reading about hydroxychloroquine, he asked heads of some pharmaceutical firms to ramp up production. This was even before US President Trump spoke about the drug to India, sources said

Proscribed Crimean ministers’ trip to India during Trump visit riles USA

Sachin Parashar, February 27, 2020: The Times of India

Even as the Trump-Modi summit went, US authorities raised concern before Indian officials about the presence of top Crimean leaders in India, TOI has learnt.

The US pointed out to India that deputy PM of Crimea Georgy Muradov and finance minister Irina Kiviko, currently on a visit to India, were both placed under sanctions by the US in 2016 for “asserting governmental authority over a part or region of Ukraine without the authorisation of the government of Ukraine”.

What seems to have aggravated US concerns is that not only the two individuals are under US and also, as a European diplomat told TOI, EU sanctions, they also landed here in the middle of the Trump visit. Muradov is of particular concern to the US as he’s additionally designated for being responsible “for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

An Indian government source said while the US had raised concerns, it had to be noted that both the ministers were here only on an “unofficial” visit and that no government official was going to have any meeting with them.

Their visit though, even if unofficial, helps India walk the diplomatic tightrope with Russia. It yet again confirms that India will continue to stand by Moscow on the Crimea issue despite its ties with the US. President Vladimir Putin has in the past expressed appreciation for what he calls restrained and objective position of India on Crimea. The US maintains that Russia continues to violate international law on the Crimea issue and that it will go on sanctioning those who threaten Ukraine’s security and sovereignty.

Few Crimean politicians have visited India since it was annexed by Russia in 2014. The head of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, created quite a sensation later that year after he apparently managed to inject himself into Putin’s delegation to India. The state department had then said in a reaction that while the US was troubled by his presence in India, it was possible that India wasn’t aware of his presence in Putin’s delegation.

The two Crimean ministers arrived in India and are visiting Delhi and Mumbai. According to diplomatic sources, the Crimean delegation is on a “working visit” to India. “Meetings with representatives of the Indian business and public circles, students and Russian language teachers were held in a friendly and constructive atmosphere as has been a tradition between the two countries. Opportunities with potential for the development of economic, trade and investment cooperation with the Peninsula were presented,” said a source.


April: US navy’s ops without consent in Indian EEZ

Rajat Pandit, April 10, 2021: The Times of India

"Freedom of Navigation" exercise: The April 2021 flashpoint
From: Rajat Pandit, April 10, 2021: The Times of India

In a highly unusual move, the US navy declared that it had conducted “freedom of navigation operations” in India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near Lakshadweep earlier this week, without deliberately seeking New Delhi’s prior consent, drawing an Indian response that the American warship was “continuously monitored” and concerns were conveyed to the Biden administration. Coming close on the heels of a Quad summit hosted by President Joe Biden, which was seen as strong strategic convergence among the US, India, Japan and Australia, the American naval deployment raised more than a few eyebrows.

“India requires prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvres in its EEZ or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law. This FONOPs upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims,” the strongly worded US navy statement said.

Responding to the provocative statement issued by the US Seventh Fleet the foreign ministry on Friday said, “India’s stated position on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is that the convention does not authorise other states to carry out in the EEZ and on the continental shelf, military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state.”

USA: India’s maritime claims ‘excessive

Chidanand Rajghatta, April 11, 2021: The Times of India

India and the United States are having a rare moment of disagreement in their burgeoning defence ties, with Washington accusing New Delhi of “excessive maritime claims” while asserting the right of navigation for its warships close to Lakshwadeep islands.

“I can tell you that the USS John Paul Jones, a Navy destroyer, asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Republic of the Maldives by conducting innocent passage through its territorial sea in normal operations within its exclusive economic zone without requesting prior permission,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, said after India conveyed its concern over the matter earlier this week. Kirby said the move was “consistent with inter national law”.

India-US row comes just 3 weeks after US defence secy’s visit

Earlier, the US Navy said it conducted a freedom of navigation operation in Indian waters without prior consent to challenge India’s “excessive maritime claims”, triggering a sharp reaction from New Delhi.

“India’s stated position on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is that the convention does not authorise other states to carry out in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf, military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state,” India’s ministry of external affairs said.

“The USS John Paul Jones was continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits. We have conveyed our concerns regarding this passage through our EEZ to the government of the USA,” the statement added.

On its part, the US 7th fleet maintained that on April 7, 2021 (local time) USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s EEZ, without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law.

The public spat is highly unusual given the close defence relations between the two countries, with the two navies sharing particularly tight ties. The two countries have pledged close maritime security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The row comes only three weeks after US defence secretary Lloyd Austin visited New Delhi — in what was the first high-ranking visit from a Biden administration official — and pledged close cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region ostensible to counter China’s growing assertiveness.

An overview, as in 2021 Sept

Armaan Bhatnagar, Sep 24, 2021: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the United States to consolidate the growing strategic ties between the two nations and explore new opportunities for bilateral cooperation.

This is PM Modi's first foreign visit of the year, and only the second international trip since the Covid-19 pandemic engulfed the globe. Ties between the US and India have been on an upward swing in the last few years, transcending administration changes in New Delhi as well as Washington.

From defence to trade to people-to-people contact, the two largest democracies in the world share a multi-faceted relationship that continues to evolve in the backdrop of various global challenges. Here are the five key facets of India-US ties ...


India shares an extensive defence partnership with US which can be encapsulated under two broad categories: bilateral military pacts and strategic cooperation.

Let's start with the wider umbrella of strategic cooperation. US and India have tightened their strategic embrace recently with China flexing its military muscle in the Indo-Pacific region. Defence experts have said that US views India as a regional counterweight to China in the Indo-Pacific region and has often - and loudly - made its intentions known on that front.

For instance, the previous Trump administration strongly supported India during its military conflict with China in eastern Ladakh and publicly decried Beijing's salami-slicing tactics.

Last year, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo embarked on an "anti-China roadshow" in the Indian Ocean islands, warning countries like Sri Lanka and Maldives against China's intentions. The Joe Biden administration has more or less picked up where its predecessors left off.

The US as well as India have been speaking openly about freedom of navigation and vociferously support a free & fair Indo-Pacific. In October last year, US, India, Japan and Australia — together known as Quad — came together for the Malabar naval exercise for the first time in 13 years. This was the first indication of the "militarisation" of Quad, so far an informal alliance.

In March this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with leaders of US, Japan and Australia, held the first-ever Quad leaders' summit in signs of deepening cooperation.

During his ongoing US visit, the first in-person Quad meeting is high on PM Modi's agenda as the four-nation group looks to infuse more strategic heft into the alliance and keep China on the tenterhooks.

Besides Malabar, India and US have been regularly holding several other joint exercises (Vajra Prahar, Yudh Abhyas, Tiger Triumph, etc) which are becoming wider in scope, size and complexity. On the defence deals front, India-US ties have witnessed a quantum leap.

The US managed to pip India's long-standing military supplier Russia by notching up defence deals worth $21 billion for aircraft, helicopters and howitzers in the last 13 years.

Despite some differences due to India's S-400 anti-missile system deal with Russia, the overall defence cooperation between the two democracies remains firm.

At the third two-plus-two dialogue in 2020, India and US signed an intelligence-sharing pact called The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement or BECA.

This was the fourth and final foundational pact with the US after the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) of 2002, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) of 2016 and the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) of 2018.

Moreover, India is also looking to transform its Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) with the US into a “buyer-seller” relationship that will involve co-development and production of advanced weapon systems.


While India and US have nurtured strong military ties over the years, their trade relationship has remained rather shaky. In the last couple of years, India has taken a tough stance on issues pertaining to trade after the former Trump administration doubled down on tariffs.

In 2019, Trump had ended India’s special trade status that allows products from developing countries to enter the US market duty free. In retaliation, India slapped tariffs on 28 US products. In 2020, efforts to clinch a mini-trade deal during Trump's much-hyped India visit remained fruitless as both sides failed to reach an agreement.

During the Obama administration too, trade friction between New Delhi and Washington was rampant.

Besides, Biden has his own version of "America First" policy which means that India isn't expecting a different approach to trade and tariffs under the Democrats.

However, in June this year, the US did suspend retaliatory tariffs against India and a few other countries over their imposition of digital service tax on companies such as Google and Facebook. This was seen as an indication that Biden is willing to ease trade irritants in a departure from Trump's aggressive position. Notably, US remains India's largest trading partner with bilateral trade totalling $92 billion.

It is also one of the few countries with which India has a trade surplus. The trade gap between the two currently stands at $23.4 billion.

Immigration & H-1B

Every year, the lure of the great "American Dream" entices thousands of Indians — mostly IT professionals — to aspire for US work visas like the H-1B.

Hence, immigration forms a big part of India-US ties. In 2020, the Trump administration's move to impose a temporary suspension on H-1B visas amid the Covid-19 pandemic came as a body blow to Indian techies.

The ban was revoked by the Biden administration earlier this year. Unlike his predecessor, Biden is not that rigid on immigration. On the contrary, he plans to increase the number of high-skilled visas, including the H-1B.

Since coming to office, Biden has revoked the Trump administration’s discriminatory travel bans, put a freeze on certain regulations and presented a bill for providing a citizenship path to a majority of the 11 million undocumented individuals.

Recently, the Democrats drafted immigration reforms that would have allowed those stuck in decades-long green card backlog to pay a supplemental fee ($5,000) and obtain legal permanent residence.

The bill would have also provided a pathway to citizenship to dreamers (including aged-out children of parents who held work visas such as H-1B).

However, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that the immigration reforms cannot be part of the reconciliation bill. The Democrats are now eyeing a Plan B which is set to be rolled out shortly.

Introduced in the Senate recently, the American Children’s Act will provide legal dreamers a pathway to citizenship when they came of age, in addition to making them eligible for work once they turn 16. Separately, the Biden administration has also proposed changes that will ease work restrictions for spouses of H-1B workers, a move that will benefit some 1 lakh Indians.

People-to-people connection

At nearly 4 million, Indian-Americans form the second-largest immigrant group in US and have always been relevant to its social architecture — both politically and culturally.

The presence of Indian-Americans in US politics got a major fillip after Kamala Harris became the Vice President this year — the first Indian-American woman to attain such a high rank in the Oval Office.

In fact, the serving Biden administration has as many as 20 Indian-Americans in important roles, including US surgeon general Vivek Murthy and senior advisor to the President, Neera Tanden.

Recently, Biden light-heartedly said that Indian-Americans are taking over the country, referring to the high number of people from the community getting a place in his administration.

Moreover, Indian-Americans also have a voice in the US Congress, known informally as the "Samosa Caucus". After the November 2020 elections, all four House members of the caucus — Dr Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal, and Ro Khanna — were re-elected in Congressional elections.

Besides, the Indian-American community also includes a large number of professionals, business entrepreneurs and educationalists with increasing influence in society.

Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai, the CEOs of Microsoft and Google, are both of Indian origin.

The success of Indian-Americans is reflected in their economic prowess as they form the wealthiest community in the country with an average household income twice that of the national average.

This is because people of Indian descent hold a significant share of jobs in several high-paying fields, including computer science, financial management and medicine.

Nine percent of doctors in US are of Indian descent, and more than half of them are immigrants.

According to the ministry of external affairs, India and US have been working together to facilitate the travel of their respective citizens.

In 2016, an MoU was signed to facilitate India's joining of the Global Entry Programme for expedited immigration for eligible Indian citizens at US airports.

Cooperation across multiple fields

Apart from sharing friendly bilateral ties, India and US have often found each other on the same page on several key issues confronting the world, be it terror or the recent Covid pandemic. In fact, cooperation in counter-terrorism has seen considerable progress recently with intelligence sharing, information exchange, operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology and equipment.

In 2010, both nations signed a Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Initiative to expand collaboration on counter-terrorism, information sharing and capacity building.

Both countries have also partnered to strengthen the global response to Covid-19 on issues ranging from addressing infectious disease outbreaks to strengthening health systems to securing global supply chains.

During the worst phase of the pandemic, India and US helped each other with crucial medical supplies and raw materials. But the cooperation was not always mutual. During India's second wave, the Biden administration drew global criticism for its "America First" stand when crisis-hit India grappled with the deadly deluge of cases.

However, the US quickly went into damage control and sent millions of dollars worth of supplies later.

Together with their other Quad members of Australia and Japan, India and US have pledged to cooperate on vaccine manufacturing with a target of producing 1 billion doses in India by 2022.

On climate change, India and US have reconciled their goals after temporary differences triggered by Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement.

With the US rejoining the pact, its cooperation with India on climate change has deepened.

On tackling global warming, the countries recently announced "India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership”.

Under the partnership, India and US aim to deploy 450 gigawatts of renewable power to meet the ambitious 2030 target for climate action and clean energy.

Moreover, India is also giving a boost to space ties with US.

During the third two-plus-two talks in 2020, both sides looked forward to sharing Space Situational Awareness information, which will catalyze efforts to create the conditions for a safe, stable and sustainable space environment.

They also expressed the intent to continue the India-US Space Dialogue as well as discussions on areas of potential space defence cooperation.

Earlier this year, Nasa and Isro announced they will jointly develop a satellite called NISAR, which will detect movements of the planet’s surface as small as 0.4 inches over areas about half the size of a tennis court.

Besides these, India and US have been witnessing growing cooperation over other areas such as health, connectivity, global security, science and education.

See also

China-India relations: 1899-01

China-India relations: 1900-1999

China-India relations, 2000 onwards

Indians in the USA

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)

Narendra Modi

US-India relations: Military

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