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Embassy of India: An Overview of U.S.-India Relations

India-US relations have seen a remarkable transformation over the last decade. The recent bilateral visit of Prime Minister to Washington from November 22-26, 2009 as the first State Guest of President Barack Obama has reaffirmed the global strategic partnership between India and the United States. The two leaders have reaffirmed that the common ideals and complementary strengths of India and the United States provide a foundation for addressing the global challenges of the 21st century and resolved to build on these to expand the U.S.-India global partnership for mutual benefit, peace, stability and prosperity in Asia.

There is a broad political consensus across the spectrum in both the countries to strengthen the India-US relations as is evident from the fact that the transformation of our bilateral relationship which began with President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000 continued through President Bush’s tenure with the summit meetings in July 2005 in Washington D.C. and in March 2006 in New Delhi. The signing of Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy by both countries on October 10, 2008 reflects culmination of the transformation process. India-US relationship is based on both principle and pragmatism which points to a much more durable and multi-faceted relationship for the future.

The historic inauguration of President Barack Obama as first African American President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009 was warmly welcomed and celebrated in India. President Obama, in his greetings on India’s 60th Republic Day, underlined the shared belief in democracy, liberty, pluralism, and religious tolerance of the two countries and to work together to advance peace, prosperity, and stability around the globe.

In recent years, there have been close and frequent contacts at political and official levels. There is now a wide-ranging dialogue on global, regional and bilateral issues of mutual interest between the two countries.

Prime Minister’s visit to USA in November 2009
Prime Minister visited Washington from November 22-26, 2009 at the invitation of President Obama as his first State Guest. The visit focused on the common interests and shared values in a strategic partnership of global relevance and reflects the vision and resolve of the two leaders to embark upon a new phase in their bilateral partnership. The visit marked the first bilateral Summit between India and the United States after the elections in America last November and our Parliamentary elections this year. In their meeting on November 24, which was also attended by Minister for External Affairs Shri S.M.Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Prime Minister and the US President reviewed all aspects of the India-US bilateral relationship including the progress of the Strategic Dialogue that was announced during the visit of Mrs.Clinton to India on July 20, 2009. Prime Minister conveyed to the President that the rapid socio-economic transformation underway in India holds several opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries and that India is in a position to contribute to global economic recovery, combat poverty and underdevelopment, and provide stability to a region plagued by terrorism and violent extremism. Eight MOU/MOIs were signed between the two sides during the visit.

President Obama and Mrs.Obama hosted the state dinner in honour of Prime Minister and wife and the Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Clinton jointly hosted a well-attended lunch in honour of PM and his delegation. Apart from the US Secretary of State Mrs.Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Energy Secretary Dr.Steven Chu, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also called on Prime Minister. Prime Minister invited President Obama to visit India in 2010, which the US President has accepted.

Prime Minister had met President Obama for the first time in London in April 2009 on the sidelines of G-20 Summit. He met the President again in L’Aquila in Italy and also during the G-20 Summit in Pittsburg, USA in September 2009. Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India in July 2009 and had launched a new Strategic Dialogue with EAM.

Major Areas of Cooperation
Recognizing the new heights achieved in the India-US relationship over the last two Indian and US Administrations, India and the United States are committed to pursue a new phase of the relationship that will enhance global prosperity and stability. A Joint Statement titled “India and the United States : Partnership for a Better World” was issued by Prime Minister and President Obama on November 24th 2009, which highlights the main areas of cooperation. Both the leaders recognized that the India-US partnership is indispensable for global peace and security and acknowledged the common threat that international terrorism poses to regional and global security. The Statement also focused on trade and investment, clean and efficient energy, science and technology, space, high technology, education, health, agriculture and counter-terrorism. The two sides launched a Knowledge Initiative with a total funding of USD 10 million that will be allocated to increasing university linkages and junior faculty development exchanges between U.S. and Indian universities and they also agreed to launch the US-India Financial and Economic Partnership to strengthen engagement on economic, financial and investment related issues.

Both the leaders reaffirmed their intention to move ahead and operationalize the provisions of the Civil Nuclear Agreement at the earliest and also agreed to consult regularly and seek the early start of negotiations on a multilateral, non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament. They further committed themselves to strengthen and reform the global economic and financial architecture in the G-20, World Bank and the IMF, and to achieving genuine reform of the United Nations including in its Security Council in a manner that reflects the contemporary realities of the 21st century.

Cooperation in the field of education, space, and science & technology was further enhanced with the concluding of a Science and Technology Endowment Agreement and also signing of the space related Technology Safeguards Agreement. Greater cooperation is also envisaged on energy security and climate change, focusing on increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy and also to work together with other countries for positive results in the UNFCCC Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009. An MOU to “Enhance Cooperation on Energy Security, Energy Efficiency, Clean Energy and Climate Change” was signed between the two sides on November 24, 2009.

Secretary Clinton and External Affairs Minister established a "Strategic Dialogue" during the former’s visit to India in July 2009, to be pursued by bilateral working groups of five principal fields viz; Strategic Cooperation on nonproliferation, counter-terrorism and military; Energy and Climate Change; Education and Development on education and women’s empowerment; Economics, Trade and Agriculture on business, trade and food security; and Science and Technology, Health and Innovation on major technologies and global health challenges which will lead to more focus on areas of common interest. The two sides signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will allow India to launch satellites containing US parts on its satellite launch vehicles for non-commercial purposes. They also established a $30 million Science and Technology Endowment for various related projects. Agreement was also reached on End-Use Monitoring Language to be used in letters of offer and acceptance for defence procurements. It is expected that this will facilitate greater defence cooperation.

Both the countries are striving to increase and diversify bilateral economic relations and expand trade and investment flows and as members of G-20, are working together with other major economies to foster a sustainable recovery from the global economic crisis.

Other recent high level visits
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India from 17-21 July, 2009. This was the first high-level political contact between India and the US since the formation of the new Government in Delhi. Earlier, in her speech at the 34th anniversary of the USIBC on 17th June in New York, Secretary Clinton spelt out her vision for the next phase of the India-US relations. She mentioned that the US saw “India as one of the few key partners worldwide who will help us shape the 21st century.” She has termed the next phase as being the “third era of the US-India relations” which would have four platforms of cooperation –global security, human development, economic activity and science and technology.”

Minister of Home Affairs, Shri P.Chidambaram, visited New York and Washington from September 8-11, 2009. During his visit he met various dignitaries, including Secretary of State , Treasury Secretary, Secretary, Dept.of Homeland, Attorney General, FBI Director , National Security Advisor and some Senior Senators.

External Affairs Minister met US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton on September 25, 2009 on the sidelines of the UNGA. They reviewed the progress in bilateral relations since the visit of Ms.Clinton to India in July this year and exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest

There were other high level visits during this year, including NSA, Commerce & Industry Minister, Human Resource Development Minister, Minister for Environment and Forests, Minister for Non-Conventional & Renewable Energy, FS and SEPM. From the US side, apart from Secretary Clinton, NSA General James Jones, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Deputy Secretary of Defence William Lynn have visited India.

India-US Economic Relations
The growing economic partnership between the US and India has been one of the pillars of the transformed bilateral relationship. In the Joint Statement issued on November 24, 2009, during Prime Minister’s state visit to Washington, Prime Minister and President Obama agreed to launch the India–US Financial and Economic Partnership to strengthen bilateral engagement on macro-economic, financial, and investment-related issues.

India has emerged as a thriving market for US exports, which nearly tripled in value between 2004 and 2007. The upward trend has continued in 2008, though at a slower rate and declined in 2009 due to the global economic downturn. The total trade during 2008 was US$43.4 billion (India’s exports to US –25.7 and US exports to India-17.7) as compared to US$21.6 billion (15.5 + 6.1) in the year 2004. The total trade during January – August 2009 was US$24.4 billion (13.6bn + 10.8bn). Major US exports to India include aircraft and aviation-related products, fertilizers, other machinery, precious stones and metals, organic chemicals, optical and medical instruments. Major components of India’s export to the US include gems and jewelry, textiles, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, engineering goods and, since last year, iron & steel products.

The US is the third largest source of foreign direct investments in India. Cumulative FDI inflows from USA till July 2009 were $ 9.71 billion. The FDI inflows from USA to India increased from US $502 million in 2004-05 to US $1.80 billion in 2008-09. The sectors attracting FDI from USA are Fuels (Power and Oil Refinery), Telecommunications, Electrical equipments (including computer software and electronics), Food Processing Industries and service sector. According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, investments from India to US in 2006 were estimated at around US$ 2 billion and rose sharply in 2007 to touch US$ 13 billion. In 2007-08 alone, an estimated US$ 10.25 billion was invested by Indian companies in the US. Consequently, by industry estimates, an additional 65,000 jobs were created in the US in diverse sectors (steel, chemicals, hotels, beverages, automobile). According to a report by FICCI, the number of disclosed deals involving acquisitions by Indian companies in USA during 2007-08 and 2008-09 were 55 and 24 respectively and the values were $4.432 billion and $960 million respectively. The most active sectors were IT and IT enabled services, followed by manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

Commerce & Industry Minister Shri Anand Sharma visited Washington (16-18 June 2009) and participated in the 34th Anniversary Summit of the US-India Business Council (USIBC). He visited again during 13-15 October, 2009 to attend the Global Services Summit. Minister for Textiles Shri Dayanidhi Maran visited Las Vegas during August 29-31, 2009 to inaugurate the India Pavillion at the MAGIC Apparel Fair. The US Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, visited New Delhi for an informal WTO Ministerial in September 2009 and again in October 2009 for the India-US Trade Policy Forum meeting. Minister for Road Transport & Highways Shri.Kamal Nath visited the US from 11-12 September, 2009. Minister of State(I/C) for Environment & Forests, Shri Jairam Ramesh,visited Washington from September 30 to October 02, 2009. Dr.Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New & Renewable Energy attended the India-US Energy Partnership Summit in Washington in September 2009. Dr.Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, visited Washington on different occasions during the year to participate in World Bank meetings and G-20 Sherpa meetings. Numerous other visits from both sides took place during the year 2009, including several official level delegations and trade missions.

India – US Defence Cooperation
During PM’s visit, both Governments agreed to continue pursuing mutually beneficial defence cooperation through the existing security dialogue, service-level exchanges, defence exercises and trade and technology transfer and collaboration.

The ‘New Framework for India-US Defence Relationship’ signed between the two sides on June 28, 2005 and the India-US ‘Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation’ signed in March 2006 have added a new dynamism to the Indo-US defence ties. Under the Framework for Defence Cooperation, six Joint Working Groups are functioning.

Joint Exercises between the three Services of both countries have improved in scale and frequency since the signing of the New Framework. From the US, India has presently contracted for defence equipments such as radars, maritime patrol aircraft, transport aircraft, anti ship missiles etc.

The present Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited India from February 26-27, 2008 and our Raksha Mantri Shri A.K.Antony visited Washington from September 7-10, 2008. Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander, US Pacific Command visited India during 13-15 May 2009. The new PACOM Commander Admiral Willard visited India in early December 2009. CoAS visited Washington in July 2009.

During the recent visit of Secretary of State Clinton to India from 17-21 July, 2009 the End use monitoring arrangements for high-end defence procurements from USA was agreed to, which would further take the bilateral defence relationship forward.

India - US Space Cooperation
The U.S. – India Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation is the forum for discussions on joint activities in space. India signed a landmark agreement with NASA at their Ames Research Centre on 28th July 2008 to carry out lunar exploration. India's first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-I was successfully launched from Shriharikota on 22nd October, 2008 and carried two NASA payloads - a Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar to map ice deposits in the moon's surface and a Moon Mineralogy Maper to assess mineral resources of the Moon. A Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) signed with the US on July 20, 2009 in New Delhi during the visit of US Secretary of State, will open up fresh opportunities for India in the field of space launches and will facilitate the launch of non-commercial US satellites and satellites with US components on Indian launch vehicles. US has subsequently approved launch of ALSAT-2A and 2B satellites by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

A Letter of Intent was signed between ISRO and NASA on November 18, 2009, on Oceansat-2 collaboration, on the sidelines of the 6th Plenary session of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in Washington. The Oceansat-2 was successfully launched by ISRO from Sriharikota on September 23, 2009 using PSLV. This would enable the US agencies to receive Oceansat-2 data for research, education etc.

Dr. G Madhavan Nair, Chairman ISRO met NASA Administrator Charles F Bolden on 17th Sept 09 and discussed about future cooperation between the two organizations The M3 instrument from NASA on Chandrayaan-1 has identified water molecules on Lunar surface.

India-US Cooperation in Education sector
India-US Education Dialogue was announced by India and US Governments on July 20, 2009 during the visit of US Secretary of State to India. Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD), Shri Kapil Sibal, led a delegation to New York and Washington during 25-31, October 2009 with a view to explore partnerships with top US Universities for establishing fourteen new Innovation Universities in India.

‘Amartya Sen Fellowship Fund’ was instituted in December, 2008 at Harvard University for fellowships for deserving students from India. Indian study centers have been established at University of Pennsylvania, South Asian Initiative in Harvard, India Initiative in Yale. Government of India has taken many initiatives such as “Promotion of Indian Higher Education Abroad (PIHEAD)” program and awarding fellowships, including through the corporate sector; teaching of Ayurveda in US medical schools; and Indo-US Cooperation on E-Learning. In academic year 2008-09, there were 103,260 students from India studying in the United States, constituting 15.4 % of total foreign students in the USA.

During the visit of Prime Minister to Washington, both Governments launched the “Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative” with funding from both sides to increase university linkages and junior faculty development exchanges between US and Indian universities. On July 4, 2008, India and the US signed a new bilateral Fulbright Agreement, that supersedes the Fulbright Agreement operating since 1950 with U.S. funding. Under the Agreement, the Government of India and the United States will implement the scholarship programme as full partners with scholarship amount of US$5 million awarded annually. For 2009-10, there were total of 89 American Fulbright-Nehru students and scholars who went to India to teach or pursue research. A total of 72 Indian Fulbright-Nehru students and scholars came to the US to teach or pursue research.

Indo-US Cooperation in Science & Technology
India and the US signed a Science & Technology Agreement on October 17, 2005 that deals with IPR issues and provides for joint research and training, and the establishment of public-private partnerships. A $30 million Science & Technology Endowment for various related projects was established during the visit of Secretary of State to India on 20 July 2009. The 11th annual governing body meeting of the India-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), was held at National Institute of Health, Bethesda, USA during 7-8 December, 2009. An MoU for “Earth Observations and Earth Sciences” has been signed between Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in April, 2008 and the first Joint Executive Meeting (JEM) was held during 6-7 October 2009 in New Delhi. The 6th Steering Committee Meeting of Methane to Markets (M2M) partnership was held at Washington DC during 10-11 September 2009 and was represented by India. A delegation from India attended the XXXII Antartica Treaty Consultative Meeting and XII Committee for Environmental Protection meetings held in Baltimore, USA, from 16-17 April, 2009.
Indo-US Cooperation in the Health Sector

During the visit of Secretary of State Clinton to India during July 2009, a “Health Dialogue” was established between the two countries, which forms part of the “Indo-US Strategic Dialogue.” US National Institute of Health (NIH) has eight collaborative programmes with DBT, DST & Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); NIH awarded over 100 research projects to India in 2008; Indo-US Centre for Research on Indian System of Medicine (CRISM) established at University of Mississippi, USA in April 2009; Teaching of basic courses on Ayurveda in different U.S Medical Schools as Continued Medical Education (CME) course by experts nominated by the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. The Dept.of Biotechnology in collaboration with Indo-US S&T Forum and Stanford University has formulated Stanford-India Bio-design program for development of implants and medical devices. US Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) opened two offices in New Delhi and Mumbai in January 2009.
During the recent visit of PM, an “Agreement for access to Traditional Knowledge Digital Library” was signed between CSIR, India and US Patent & Trademark office on November 23, 2009, to prevent misappropriation of traditional knowledge belonging to India, at international patent offices. A Memorandum of Intent between US Dept. of Health and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI, was signed on November 24, 2009. This envisages to set up a Global Disease Detection Centre in Delhi.

The US Health & Human Services Secretary, Michael O.Leavitt visited India during 7-12 January 2008.

Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism
Duri ng the visit of PM in November 2009, the India-US Counter-terrorism Cooperation Initiative was initialed between the two countries, which would expand collaboration on counter-terrorism, information sharing and capacity building. Prime Minister and President Obama expressed their grave concern about the threat posed by terrorism and violent extremists emanating from India’s neighborhood, and agreed that resolute and credible steps must be taken to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries that provide shelter to terrorists and their activities. JWG on Counter Terrorism was established in January 2000 and in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, both sides have reiterated their commitment to combating terrorism. The 11th meeting of the JWG was held in Washington on 17 June 2009.

Cultural ties.
Indian music, dance, art and literature are widely appreciated in the United States. Kennedy Centre in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural Relations [ICCR] is organizing the “Festival of India’” in March 2011 focusing on established as well as emerging artists and art forms including all of the performing arts. Apart from live shows, exhibitions and lecture-cum-demonstrations, the Kennedy Center will also showcase the Festival of India through educational programmes that reaches into schools through satellite and internet. As in the past, the Embassy organized events marking major Indian festivals, which were well attended, including by American nationals.

Indian Press
The major agencies PTI and IANS have their representatives in Washington DC; several leading dailies also have correspondents based here [Times of India, Telegraph, Economic Times]; others have stringers [Pioneer, Indian Express and New Indian Express and major magazines like Outlook and The Week]. The TV channels represented in Washington are Times Now, CNBC TV-18 and ZEE TV [through a tie-up with VOA]. NDTV has their full-time correspondent based in New York.

People-to-people Ties

The 2.7 million strong Indian American community in the United States has been growing in affluence and political strength and has developed into a force for closer and stronger ties between their adopted country and their nation of origin. The community has played a significant role in the successful passage of the Henry J. Hyde Act by the U.S. Congress and eventually signing of the Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. A number of Indian Americans are occupying high level posts of Governor, Senators/Representatives of State Legislatures and in the Federal Administration. Their active cooperation and interaction at different levels with the Government of India as well as with the U.S. Administration provides a bridge between the two countries.
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