As President Obama prepares to visit India next month, he has an historic opportunity to reinvigorate U.S.-India relations after several years of drift. In a Policy Outlook, Ashley J. Tellis writes that India’s rapid emergence as a major international entity—it is expected to become the third or fourth most powerful country by mid-century—gives it the potential to become America’s most strategic partner. A strong bilateral relationship with India will also help the United States manage China’s rise, promote the balance of power in Asia, and protect broader American interests.

Key Recommendations:

  • Pay greater attention to India. While Obama has largely focused on competing priorities—including the troubled U.S. economy and ongoing wars abroad—Washington must devote more resources to New Delhi to strengthen long-term ties.

  • Reaffirm U.S. support. The White House should endorse India’s quest for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, assimilate India more quickly into the global nonproliferation regime, and enhance bilateral cooperation in multiple areas to strengthen the U.S.-India relationship.

  • Approach relations differently. Rather than viewing U.S.-India relations in purely transactional terms, Obama should seek to strengthen India’s national capacity so it can partner with the United States as a friendly democratic power.

“By reaffirming the U.S. commitment to aid India’s growth in power and emphasizing America’s fellowship with India … Obama can help bring the two countries together on shared interests and move their relationship forward significantly,” Tellis writes.