The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the global landscape, prompting nations to reevaluate their alliances. New power alignments are emerging, influencing international relations and geopolitical strategies. The growing closeness between India and the US, driven by PM Modi’s proactive foreign policy, is a notable shift.
This US-India Strategic Partnership has advanced with a technology agreement, deepening strategic ties and leading to a three-way defence partnership. President Macron’s visit to India is a diplomatic milestone and President Biden’s invitation for a summer state visit to PM Modi signifies the emergence of new geopolitical synergies.
US-India Strategic Partnership Advances with Technology Deal
The recent outing of US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to New Delhi sheds light on the United States’ favorable stance towards India, highlighting the growing strategic partnership between the two nations.
The Biden administration has given approval for GE, a global leader in military jet engines, to manufacture the 98 kilo-Newton thrust GE-414 engines in India in partnership with the Defence Research and Development Organization and a yet-to-be-determined private defence equipment company.
This India-specific GE- 414 INS6 engine will power the LCA Mark II, which is set to be unveiled by the Aeronautical Development Agency next year and take flight by 2024, as well as the under-development twin-engine Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft. This marks a significant step forward in the defence cooperation between India and the United States.
Historically, the relationship between the United States and India was fraught, with the United States showing preference to Pakistan. However, in recent years, the United States has moved away from Pakistan and has increased its focus on India, as both nations face a common threat in China. As a result, India and the United States are working to deepen their strategic partnership to counter the growing challenge posed by Chinese expansionism.
In addition to the shared challenge posed by China, the strengthening relationship between India and the United States has also been influenced by increasing competition between the United States and France. India has a strong defence relationship with France, but the United States views India as a potential market for its defence industry. As a result, the United States is offering India favorable deals and, for the first time, is agreeing for technology transfer.
Recently, strategic talks between India and the United States have centered on expanding bilateral relations in new domains with cooperation in areas such as semiconductors, 5G and 6G wireless infrastructure, and commercial spaceflight, including lunar exploration, semiconductor supply chain and technology transfer in GE Aerospace application. Another aspect of these initiatives is to diversify the civil cooperation with India and extend it to a relatively unexplored domain of defence trade.
Three-Way Defence Strategic Partnership Emerges
India and Russia are revamping their defence ties to diversified domains with increase civil collaborations, much to the liking of the United States. The reduced dependence of India on Russia for defence equipment has although shifted towards France instead of the United States.
From a vantage point, the overtly generous approach of the United States towards India can be attributed as preparation for the potential visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to India.
Emmanuel Macron’s Upcoming Sojourn to India: A Diplomatic Milestone
The said visit of the French President to India would expand the bilateral defence cooperation between the two nations. Interestingly for the United States, during the visit is all the more important as the United States is eying to seal the deal supply deck-based jets to the Indian Navy in a multi-billion dollar contract.
But the recent expert reports have revealed that the French fighter Rafale is ahead of the American F/A-18 Super Hornet, making it imperative on the part of the US administration to compensate on its inefficiency by providing additional packages in other deals.
President Biden Extends Summer State Visit Invitation to PM Modi
Additionally, according to the Press Trust of India, the US President Joe Biden has reportedly extended an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a state visit this summer. The Prime Minister’s Office has reportedly accepted the invitation in principle, and the visit is in the early stages of logistical planning.
This invitation comes as India holds the presidency of the Group of 20 (G-20) nations and will host several events related to the G-20 leading up to a summit in September, which President Biden and other world leaders are expected to attend.
But, the summer invitation to Prime Minister Modi is seen as a follow up of the visit of President Macron to India. Further, given the significance the arm’s lobby holds in the White House administration and functioning, the move of inviting PM Modi does not come as a surprise.
However, at the same time it provides India with the leverage to negotiate better defence deals with the United States and France. Since, both the nations are having stringent competition to win defence contracts with India, it provides India with an upper hand to derive more from the growing strategic partnerships and defence deals with the two like-minded nations.
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