On the eve of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to the United States, the bilateral relationship is undergoing an important transformation. India’s economic dynamism, its growing role in the international system, and its breakthrough civil nuclear agreement with the United States have laid the groundwork for significant advancements in U.S.–Indian engagement. It is against this backdrop that Singh was invited to be the first state visitor of the Obama administration. This decision not only reflects optimism about the future of bilateral ties, but also the hope that India will become an increasingly vital partner in realizing Obama’s vision of “spheres of cooperation” across the Asia-Pacific region.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and former Ambassador William J. Burns discussed the Obama administration’s approach to U.S.-India relations. Following Ambassador Burns' remarks, Ashley J. Tellis outlined his two recent policy briefs on the direction of the U.S.–India relationship and moderated a panel on the topic. Experts included Teresita Schaffer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, C. Raja Mohan, the Kissinger Scholar in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress, and Evan Feigenbaum of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Deepening strategic engagement
The U.S.-India relationship has undergone steady improvement since the end of the Cold War and bilateral dialogue on a wide variety of issues has proliferated in recent years. Experts on the panel pointed out that despite the breadth and diversity of Indo-U.S. interaction, both countries would stand to benefit from a deeper strategic engagement.
India in a regional context
As India and China continue their impressive ascent toward great power status, they are reshaping both regional and global power architectures. These changing realities also demand a fundamental reassessment of U.S. policy approaches towards the greater Asia region.
Uncertainties in the U.S.–India relationship
Despite optimism about the upward trajectory of U.S.–India relations, some challenges remain, stemming mostly from uncertainty about the Obama administration’s commitment to India.
Looking ahead: Bilateral pragmatism and a new era
The experts agreed that Singh’s visit is likely to start a new era of greater cooperation between the United States and India.
The Carnegie South Asia Program informs policy debates relating to the region’s security, economy, and political development. From the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan’s internal dynamics to U.S. engagement with India, the Program’s renowned team of experts offer in-depth analysis derived from their unique access to the people and places defining South Asia’s most critical challenges.
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