The Step in Strategic Partnership (NSSP). Perhaps, no other

The US-Indiarelations have taken a great leap forward from the days of PL-480 to the NextStep in Strategic Partnership (NSSP).  Perhaps, no other bilateral relationship forIndia has undergone such a transformative alteration in the last six decades.  The US-India partnership has moved away fromthe narratives of ‘estranged democracies’ towards the ‘recent establishment of hotlinebetween the two countries’. Indeed the removal of the nuclear irritant hastranscended American perceptions of India- from a country associated with’proliferation crises into becoming a ‘non-proliferation promise’.This improved bilateralism can be attributed to various  reasons mainly, the recent polycentrism in theglobal order, the changing geopolitics in the South Asian region, India’s riseto power- economically/militarily, and the increased interconnectedness betweenboth the countries. All this would have been impossible, had both the countriesnot taken cognizance of each other’s shared strategic interests and values.

       While today the relations stand atjuncture of inevitable continuity mainly because of the extent of theircollaboration as  there seems to be nolooking back in the current dynamics of the bilateral relations however, thosewho observe the US-India relations closely had foreseen, that under the TrumpPresidency the US-India relations would be affected in four ways , mainly-trade/investment, immigration, technological cooperation, issues of globalgovernance.  USbeing India, significant partner in last one 1.5 decade; synergy on theseissues between the two players is considered as significant, especially fromthe Indian perspective, at the same time it was also viewed that relations inthe ‘aftermathof Trump’s election’ combined with other internationalvariables, ‘willbecome more difficult to forecast’.    While it waslargely viewed that US-India relations shared similar strategic views in twodifferent Administrations in the last 16 years, this time around perceptionsseemed to be differing when President Trump’s stance on issues such as ClimateChange, Immigration etc. came to forefront. Indeed suspicion raised on thechemistry that the US-India came to share in all these years.

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The air ofuncertainty about the relations however stands questioned as the US-Indiabilateral partnership was able to show the signs of synergy in first one yearof Trump Presidency, especially in terms of signing of key defense deals,energy deals including the operationalization of transfer of liquefied naturalgas to India, combatting terrorism etc. In the last one year two significant’for the first time’ were witnessed in the US-India partnership- such as a US Presidentopenly aligning to the Indian position to identify robustly the treat emanatingfrom Pakistan- implying not just rhetoric but also action by announcing tosuspend least$900 million in security assistance to Pakistan, especially focusing on theHaqqani network militant group. Additionally, the scopeof the bilateral partnership further expanded to the Indo-Pacific by discussingsecurity challenges pertainingto sovereignty and territorial integrity.  However, very recentlythree issues such as the Indian Vote on Jerusalem, India’s refusal to shut theNorth Korean Embassy in New Delhi and the US announcement of getting tougher onthe Visa laws reflected developments that were outside of the generic upwardtrend in the US-India relations. It is noteworthy to make sense of what dothese developments mean for the bilateral partnership.  One can argue that the US-India relations canbe said to entering in a phase of objectivity, wherein each one of them is ableto perceive each other more practically.

One can view a clear dichotomy of ‘interests based convergences’ and ‘foreign policy values’ in the US-Indiarelations. Despite the low expectations and high uncertainty, the bilateralrelations seem to be on an auto pilot mode where sustenance of the partnershipis preferred.  Inambassador Juster’s words Indiaand the US can both pursue their respective national interests, disagree (ed)from time to time but at the same time but as friends accept each other , work through disagreements and moveforward without animosity.   Conclusion While the  relations as of today stand solid-  one observation can be made as a point ofcaution with respect to the  – a point ortwo on caution in the US-India relations, especially on what kind of narrativeit will raise that might question the ‘autonomy’ in the Indian Foreign Policy Because,the scope of US-India interaction touches almost all the significant areas ininternational relations- ranging from international-internal security, economy,countering non-traditional threats, encompassing areas such as defence, trade,science-technology, nuclear energy, multilateral export control regimes,  space, health, agriculture, education thatmany experts have questioned its wisdom and labeled the relationship as fundamentaltransformation in Indian foreign policy. However, the current trend of India’sengagement with other countries dispels such notions. In addition to this-India might it useful to covey its ‘no-compromise tone’ to the US, from time totime on the matters of national interests. The recent demonstration ofindependent foreign policy with respect to Jerusalem Vote or North Koreannuclear issue can be viewed as an Indian attempt to convey the tone ofstrategic autonomy.

In any case one may argue that the US-India relations haveentered such a phase that trivial matters cannot cause a knee jerk effect onthe interest-value based partnership.        .   . forcesas major defence partners in the Indo-Pacific region, not just that at somepoint post reciprocal military  liaisonofficers at the respective  combatantcommands.  Advising that a step by step approach is  more healthy than an approach that aimed atresolving all the issues at once.

   Ambassador also recognised in his remarks –the importance of India as a leading power in the Indo pacific region