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Like it or not, Trump is now our best friend

Surendra Kumar
Surendra KumarJan 21, 2017 | 10:49

Like it or not, Trump is now our best friend

Speaking at an event in Delhi recently, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma asserted, “Defence deals are now worth $15 billion (Rs one lakh crore), that’s the highest ever and we are now among the top providers of defence and military equipment to India.”

Barack Obama and Narendra Modi have had three summits in two years. According to US secretary of state Johan Kerry, the US had more government to government interaction with India than any other country.

Alliance

Obviously, both the US and India have overcome “the hesitation of history”. And nothing signified this transformation more vividly than the signing of LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) in Washington on Aug 29th by US defence secretary Ash Carter and Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar. LEMOA puts in place a framework to facilitate and govern provision of logistics support, supplies and services between Indian and American militaries on a reimbursable basis.

However, UPA government had hesitated to ink the deal for fear of public outcry; media reports had speculated that the agreement would commit India to host US troops at its bases and might draw India into a military alliance with the US undermining her autonomy of decision making. Carter’s stress that the agreement makes “logistics of operations so much easier and so much more efficient,” and Parrikar’s claim that it would “allow the Indian and American navies to have an easier time supporting each other in joint operations and exercises and when providing humanitarian assistance” have allayed such apprehensions.

The joint statement had underlined that the agreement would facilitate innovative and advanced opportunities in defence technologies and trade .To make that happen the US agreed to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with its closest allies.

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Photo: Mail Today

In his address to the joint session of the Congress last year PM Modi had hailed the US as “an indispensable partner in every working group.” A day before Christmas and less than a month to sign off, President Obama has signed NDAA (National Defence Authorisation Act) which asks the defence secretary and the secretary of state to take necessary steps to recognise India as America’s “major defence partner.”

Logically, trade, business and investment should expand under the tenure of the first businessman President of the US unless he dismantles the business architecture by implementing his electoral threats of punishing those companies that were “sending jobs abroad”. Hopefully, once in the saddle, he will realise that a win-win situation will emerge from expansion of economic relationship and not by raising restrictions and drawing shutters. The ambitious figure of bilateral trade touching US$ 500 billion (Rs 34 lakh crore) by 2020 mentioned at India-US Business Council meeting during Modi’s visit to the US isn’t too farfetched if the leaderships in the two countries remain committed enablers for achieving this goal.

Energy

Cooperation in clean energy gets little mention but Obama–Modi have contributed a lot in this field. "US-India Clean Energy Hub," "US-India Catalytic Solar Finance Programme", "Greening the Grid" all flow from the PACE (Partnership to Advance Clean Energy) launched at the start of Obama’s first term; it has reportedly attracted over US$2.5 billion (Rs 17 thousand crore) public and private investment and also developed a joint clean energy research consortium .The ongoing cooperation in clean energy will help India achieve its ambitious target of installing 175 gigawatts of clean energy by 2020.

Strategy

President-elect Trump is disturbing too many hornet’s nests at the same time. Questioning One China Policy, indicating willingness to upgrade nuclear capability, shift the US Embassy to Jerusalem, review nuclear deal with Iran, ties with Cuba and ask the European allies to pay for US security protection. His appointment of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State and his tough talk about Muslim Immigrants are causing anxiety and concern at a time when the world is witnessing serious economic and political turbulence. Hopefully, President Trump will undergo a positive transformation and have a much sober, mature, and holistic and statesman like view of the US and the world.

Trump who visited Indian temples in Florida and Virginia during his campaign thanked Indian Americans for their support at a thank you rally and praised Prime Minister Modi for economic reforms and initiatives taken to eliminate bureaucratic red tape. He pledged to work for improving Indo-US relations further and added that he would be the best friend of India in the White House.

India Caucus in the Congress and the Senate is one of the biggest and there is bipartisan support for warmer relations with India. Former NSA, Shankar Menon feels that “the glue of economic complementarity and of strategic challenges posed by China should ensure that the US remains India’s most important bilateral partner for the foreseeable future.” 

(Courtesy: Mail Today)

Last updated: January 21, 2017 | 10:49
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