India-US Partnership: Emerging Opportunities for Mutual Growth and Prosperity
The US and India have established a strong partnership in trade, technology, clean energy, healthcare, and maritime sectors, focusing on trust, innovation, clean energy transitions, sustainable development, vaccine development, and ensuring a secure Indo-Pacific region.
In the realm of US foreign policy, a consistent and enduring bipartisan consensus revolves around the strategic enhancement of relations with India. Over the years, this commitment has transcended political affiliations, remaining steadfast across Republican and Democratic administrations alike.
Likewise, within the Indian political landscape, there exists a bipartisan consensus that upholds the trajectory of steadily advancing relations with the US. This commitment has transcended various governments in India, with each administration consistently upholding and even furthering the momentum through high-level political engagements. Notably, the State visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States in June symbolized a partnership "anchored in a new level of trust and mutual understanding and enriched by the warm bonds of family and friendship that inextricably link the countries together."
During this visit, significant announcements were made by the leaders of both nations, outlining collaborative efforts in key areas such as defense, high technology sectors, clean energy, space cooperation, and Indo-Pacific engagement. India welcomed the United States' decision to join India's Indo-Pacific Ocean's Initiative (IPOI) Pillar on Trade, Connectivity, and Maritime Transport. The momentum generated by this visit persisted as President Biden reciprocated with his visit to India for the G20 Summit in September.
India and the United States: Priorities for the Future
The comprehensive strategic partnership between India and the US spans an array of domains, including trade, defense, multilateralism, intelligence, cyberspace, civil nuclear energy, education, and healthcare. As this multifaceted and diverse partnership gazes into the future, it is coalescing around a novel agenda for cooperation, aligning itself with the demands of tomorrow. Several sectors will play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of this relationship, including:
Emerging Technology: The initiation of the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) in January symbolizes a strategic technology partnership between the two nations. In the realm of defense technology, both nations have unveiled an "Innovation Bridge" connecting Indian and American defense startups. This collaboration extends beyond the defense sector to encompass technologies enhancing the daily lives of citizens.
It encompasses critical domains such as AI, quantum technologies, advanced wireless, high-performance computing, space technologies, biotech, and next-generation telecommunications. Collaboration also extends to developing secure telecommunication systems, facilitating access to chipsets for system development, establishing joint research and development facilities, and mutual investments.
The two nations also intend to support computer and information science and engineering, with a special focus on building secure cyberspace networks. The collaboration further extends to earth and space sciences, with India's adherence to the Artemis Accords opening new avenues for cooperation. The depth of technological collaboration seeks to showcase India's technological prowess and also to cultivate a tech value chain partnership between the two countries. This reflects the US' confidence in India's pioneering advancements, such as the digital public infrastructure.
Working Together on Clean Energy Transitions: India, as a leader in climate mitigation efforts, has committed to reducing emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources. A notable development occurred when India updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), pledging a 45 percent reduction in the emissions intensity of its GDP and a target of achieving 50 percent cumulative electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
India has initiated international coalitions like the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS), and the Green Grids Initiative—One Sun One World One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG). Additionally, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Indian Railways are jointly developing sustainable solutions to enhance energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and work towards making India's railways net-zero carbon emitters by 2030.
The cooperation extends to expanding electric mobility in India and jointly supporting a payment security mechanism through public and private funding. This collaboration encompasses sharing climate technology and investments and broader cooperation in renewable energy funding, green infrastructure development, and exploring alternative models of economic development that mitigate carbon-intensive approaches.
Prioritizing Healthcare Security: India and the US have a history of collaboration in the healthcare sector, spanning programs for smallpox and polio eradication, HIV/AIDS control, and tuberculosis management. The pandemic underscored the importance of robust healthcare infrastructure and highlighted the need for international cooperation in vaccine development, epidemiology training, laboratory strengthening, and pandemic preparedness.
Given India's enhanced vaccine production capacity, its contribution to vaccine availability and the success of global vaccination efforts is crucial, especially for partners in the Global South who require affordable, high-quality medicines. The two nations are intensifying collaboration to secure pharmaceutical supply chains, with a specific focus on active pharmaceutical ingredients, key starting materials, and vaccine input materials.
Within their respective national visions, both India and the US are dedicated to providing accessible, high-quality healthcare services at affordable prices. India has launched initiatives like the Ayushman Bharat scheme to provide healthcare insurance to its population and has fostered partnerships between the public and private sectors through its National Health Policy. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration is actively working to reduce the cost of commonly used drugs, particularly those for conditions such as diabetes and heart failure. The pursuit of innovative healthcare products necessitates the utilization of extensive data reservoirs, which, in turn, calls for regulation regarding the use of medical data and privacy protection.
Digital health technologies present a significant opportunity for U.S.-India cooperation, with India benefiting from enhanced technology use in healthcare, expanded access to public health services, and reduced costs for disease prevention and treatment. Simultaneously, U.S. companies can tap into India's highly skilled technical workforce and domain knowledge in emerging market health services.
The Indo-Pacific: Sustainable Maritime Resources Development: India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) seeks to foster a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region by enhancing partner nations' capabilities and ensuring regional stability through cooperative frameworks. The United States has joined the IPOI's pillar on trade, connectivity, and maritime transport, recognizing the critical importance of safe sea lines of communication for global trade.
Collaboration in maritime transport holds the potential to strengthen shipping networks within and between Indo-Pacific countries, promoting trade and enhancing cooperation against illegal shipping activities in the region. This increased trade and container movement opens avenues for cooperation in building sustainable maritime infrastructure, improving supply chain communications, and enhancing submarine cable networks to facilitate data exchange. Enhanced cooperation among governments, private sectors, and security forces can lead to the development of regional programs that protect digital infrastructure, share information among service providers and governments, and provide training and capacity-building initiatives.
Beyond these areas, India and the United States are also actively engaged in addressing other key ocean-related issues, such as marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and the impacts of climate change on the ocean. As more states explore the utilization of marine resources, the imperative to plan for sustainable development, ecological and environmental protection of maritime spaces, and climate change mitigation becomes evident. Sharing expertise in ocean-based economic development holds the potential to foster ocean and coastal sustainability while delivering economic benefits, particularly to coastal communities.
The India-U.S. strategic partnership has evolved to encompass a diverse array of issues, transcending traditional defense and security concerns to encompass military exercises, increased trade and investments, and a focus on non-traditional areas of cooperation, including health, climate, energy, the development of resilient supply chains, and sustainable maritime resource management. Today, the relationship extends beyond addressing challenges stemming from regional geopolitical dynamics to addressing concerns related to technology misuse, natural resource exploitation, and ensuring the safety of people's movements. While divergences may exist, both nations continue to discover new areas that fortify their partnership and position it for a promising future.