Vajpayee memorial lecture: India-US ought to pair technique to have interaction realities of Indo-Pacific, says US coverage specialist

KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 25

Advocating a stronger push for increased bilateral engagement between the United States and India, a senior US policy specialist on Friday said geo-political ambitions of New Delhi and Washington need to be paired for a strategy to engage the emerging realities of the Indo-Pacific.

“With the incoming Biden-Harris administration, there will be a renewed focus on restoring our global alliances and strengthening our global institutions,” said Nisha Biswal, president of the US-India Business Council,  while addressing the inaugural Atal Behari Memorial Lecture organised by the Ministry of External Affairs.

“The advances of the past four years and the strategic convergence which we have seen deepened in the current administration will continue but they need to be buttressed with a broader focus on our shared democratic values.

“And our geopolitical ambitions need to be paired with a firm grasp and strategy for engaging the geo-economic realities of the Indo-Pacific,” she said.

Recounting the upward trajectory of the relationship since the time Vajpayee was at the helm of affair, Nisha said, Prime Minister Vajpayee was able to foresee what many others failed to see.

He saw the potential dangers posed by a rising and unchecked China. And he saw the importance of a US-India partnership, built on the foundation of our democratic values, to advance a rules-based order that would enable a more peaceful, prosperous and pluralistic Asia, she said. 

Today, she said, the geo-economics realities were such that for either the United States or India to succeed and be competitive with the production capacity and efficiency of China would require working together by both the countries and develop more effective and efficient economy in respective countries.

Biswal, who served in the Obama administration, said as the two large economies both the United States and India were outside of the two major trading blocks in Asia and trade policy in democracies were neither easy nor politically popular.

“Despite the fact that we have not been able to conclude even a small agreement between our two countries, we have seen the promise of a growing economic partnership drive greater trade and investment in both the US and India,” she said suggesting it was time to build on the successes and deepen economic convergence, requiring partnership across sectors.

Biswal also suggested that both countries institutionalise deepening relations between the US Congress and Indian Parliament, connect state and city leaders in a meaningful way.  

In his opening remarks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar described Vajpayee as a transformational leader. “… when it came to Indian foreign policy.”

“He had an intuitive understanding that the post-Cold War world required India to drastically rework its relationships and interests. This vision led to a new beginning with the United States that has since been developed by successive governments on both sides,” he said.

“It required us, as a nation, to overcome difficult moments and continuing concerns. Only someone with Atalji’s enormous self-assurance could, in the early days, have visualised how natural this partnership would become,” Jaishankar pointed. 

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