India-US ties can shape a balanced, prosperous global order

The positive roles played by the American community colleges and universities along with the contributions of the Indian diaspora in the grand American dream are among the key adhesives of the larger bilateral relationship between the two democratic giants,  write Dr. Manan Dwivedi and Shonit Nayan for South Asia Monitor

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Bilateral Meeting with President of the United States of America Joe Biden

With great power comes great responsibility. This age-old adage holds for the American defense and strategic dispensation in a post-Taliban Afghanistan. Americans describe their humanitarian and Demos zeal in Afghanistan as part of their duty as a super cop and regulator inspired by a sense of philanthropy and service.

Undeniably, a part of this valued-based foreign policy outlook is on display in the larger global polity and the regional dynamics of South Asia. One can also cite here what may be called America’s responsibility to protect its strategic interest that has served as a quintessential rationale for the long war related to the American presence in Afghanistan post 9/11.

One can dwell on the Indian context in the larger South Asian scenario. The larger picture of the Indo-US partnership has to be taken into account as it has surmounted myriad challenges from the geopolitical, geo-economic and strategic points of view. There are a large number of instances showcasing the US’s positive intentions in its attitude to India through the decades.

 It was US President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-45) who suggested to UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1940-45) that India be quickly granted independence. In 1962, then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sought American help to counter the Chinese aggression in India. President John F. Kennedy (1961-63) was ready to supply India with a squadron of Star fighters and anti-aircraft firepower in the event of a Chinese raid on the prominent Indian metropolises. This indicates India’s requests were never completely rejected by Washington and Capitol Hill.

Also, who can forget the benefits of the Green Revolution when the US aided India with agricultural and technical knowhow to usher in an era wherein India could become self-sufficient in food production.

Post-Cold War Indo-US ties

The dark clouds of the Cold War (1946-91) prompted Washington not to cooperate with New Delhi as Indian foreign policy was steeped in the post-independence rhetoric of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism and rejected the American offer of making New Delhi a full-fledged member of NATO, SEATO and CENTO, which presented great opportunities. Pakistan used the situation to its advantage. Thus, the US soon accepted Pakistan as an ally and Islamabad attained the status of a frontline state during the Afghanistan conflict in the nineties, again post 9/11, and now after the Taliban resurgence in Kabul.

Indo-US ties had some negative notes till the advent of President George Bush (2000-08) and President Donald Trump (2017-20). The diplomatic and strategic environment changed within a few years as New Delhi signed the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal which gave India the all significant waivers to become part of the Hyde Act despite it being a nuclear power since 1974 – when it conducted the Pokhran nuclear tests.

On the flip side, one may cite the US negating the supply of uranium to the Tarapur nuclear reactor and trying to browbeat New Delhi on the Non-proliferation issue as the latter refused to sign the NPT and CTBT. However, in recent years the India-US partnership has taken positive turns after the advent of a nationalistic dispensation in New Delhi and former President Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House.

After the two nations became close allies, the US backed New Delhi to take up a larger global role as a leader rather than being a balancer and moralist nation pontificating about the theme of values and ethics in the larger international system. However, the fact is India never pontificated, but only adhered to the reactive and idealistic philosophies of its post-independence foreign policy in the 1950s  and the 1960s.

Indian diaspora’s rising stature

Washington and New Delhi have become all-weather allies through their strategic partnership from 2005 onwards, and the Indian diaspora’s increasing importance in Washington has added more shine to the bilateral relationship.

The positive roles played by the American community colleges and universities along with the contributions of the Indian diaspora in the grand American dream are among the key adhesives of the larger bilateral relationship between the two democratic giants. However, the US visa regime for the Indian students and immigrants along with the differing interpretations of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) remain as the proverbial flies in the ointment.

The recent blitz of intelligence and communication treaties have lent further strength and depth to the India-US relationship, though the question remains whether President Trump was more pro-India or present President Joe Biden is more persuaded by India's importance in its strategic calculus.

The ties between the oldest and the largest liberal democracies, focusing on shared democratic and human rights values, have reached a stage from where they can dream of shaping a more prosperous world and a balanced global order.

In the recently concluded India-US Bilateral 2+2 Inter-Sessional meeting on September 1, 2021, in Washington DC, both sides took stock of the progress and developments in the bilateral agenda under the India-US strategic conglomerate, including defense, global public health, economic and commercial cooperation, science and technology, clean energy, maritime security, terrorism, human rights and climate finance and people to people (P2P) ties.

This has been followed by healthier exchange assessments about recent developments in South Asia, the Indo-Pacific region and the Western Indian Ocean, given their shared vision for peace, stability and prosperity and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.


The Biden-Harris administration has given top priority to strengthening the Quad, also comprising India, Australia and Japan. a priority, as seen through the Quad leaders’ recent rendezvous in Washington.

Further for India, the formation of the new Indo-Pacific coalition AUKUS — among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States - is a welcome geopolitical and geostrategic signal. It is a strong political resolve on the part of Washington to take on the growing security belligerence from Beijing. It also buys more time for New Delhi to strengthen its maritime security. The policy also seemingly aims at formulating an integrated ASEAN-Quad coalition in the Indo-Pacific and increase the US’s potential economic outreach keeping in mind that trillion dollars of investments are at stake.

(Manan Dwivedi is a Faculty, International Relations & International Organization, Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi. He can be reached a: <>. Shonit Nayan is a Doctoral Candidate, Department of Public Administration and Policy Studies, Central University of Kerala. The views expressed are personal)


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