India – US Relations



The World War Second was a source of big, deep and far reaching changes in the international power structure. All the super powers of the pre-war multi-polar power structure  like Britain, France, Spain , Italy, Germany, Japan , Portugal, Austria etc. became very weak as a result of the heavy losses that they suffered during the War (1939-1945). So the World War Second ended the traditional power structure and the alliance system and ushered a new power structure in which the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics emerged as the most powerful and dominant super powers of the world .

The peace restored after the World War Second was shaky, risky and tense peace because it was accompanied by the tensions and strained relations which developed between the Capitalistic world led by USA  and the Socialist world headed by the USSR mainly on ideological grounds. The tensions and strains that developed in the post-War international politics between the Socialist world and the capitalist one in general and the USA and the USSR in particular came to be collectively characterized as the Cold War. In international politics Cold War indicates, a state of constant conflict and strife, suspicion and mistrust and antagonism and hostility maintained and perpetuated without a direct confrontation between adversaries i.e. USA and USSR .

India achieved its independence in the mid August (15th of August) 1947, so it opened its eyes as an independent country  in the midst of  Cold War and in the era of bloc politics. As an independent country it was very hard for India to choose a particular super power in a vertically divided world of  bloc politics.

The relationship between the United States of America and India originated in this international power paradigm. In this power scenario, on one side when  the USA was trying its best to extend its influence all over the world by cementing its super power status, India on the other side  was very determined to serve its interests by maintaining its sovereign character through the Non Aligned Movement.

During the last seven decades , the relationship between the United States and India have had an interesting story of  both differences and cooperation hence has been uneven i.e. at times good and at times bad. In order to have a clear understanding of this relationship, we have to divided it into two phases i.e, Cold War phases (1947-1991) and Post –Cold War phase i.e. 1991 onwards.

In the Cold War phase the relationship between the two countries was not cordial although there was a big role of US in revolutionizing the Indian agriculture ( Rock Feller Foundation) which led to the Green revolution in India in early 1970s. Although the two countries were never in a direct confrontation but their world vision and approach for future world was totally different. A number of factors were responsible for this negative phase of relationship like:  a)  India’s role in  the foundation of Non Aligned Movement and its active propagation of Non- Alignment in international forums and as a basic principle of its foreign policy. b) Socialist planning of Indian economy through five year plans by socialist leadership like Nehru etc.  c) India’s Closeness  to USSR and the Peace Treaty of 1971 between the two countries.  d) India’s Nuclear proliferation programme and its non- commitment to sign the international non- proliferation treaties like the NPT and the  CTBT. e)  Recognition of Communist China by India (December 1949). f) Pakistan’s closeness to USA. g) United States  stand on Jammu and Kashmir in the United Nation’s Security Council. h) and its military ( Weapon) assistance to Pakistan. These points alienated the position of the two countries in the policy making circles of each other and  created a sense of mistrust and suspicion which remained there up to the end of the Cold War.

The end of cold war and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union changed the whole world scenario, so changed the mindset of United States and India towards each other. In the post- Cold War era India opened its  economy and market  under the process of liberalization, globalization and privatization and integrated it with the rest of the capitalist world led by USA, China’s emergence as an economic power in our part of world and its close proximity with Pakistan and India’s open and full support to the Bush administration when it started its war against Terror following the 9/11 Attacks changed the whole status of Indo-Us relationship.

Since the 1991 the two countries began to evolve a new relationship hence inched toward the friendship and cooperation. The two countries signed a lot of treaties and agreements for the better relations among them, the most prominent being the 123 Agreement between  the Bush and Man Mohan Singh government. Every year the leadership of the two countries visit each other which makes this relationship more viable and relevant . In 2010 the then President of USA , Barack Obama visited India  and acknowledged the emergence of India  at the world stage as an emerging power  “ India is not emerging but has emerged as a leader at the international level  and it would be in the interest of USA to have close ties with it”. In 2015 Barak Obama visited India again as Chief guest at the Republic day of India.

Now the recent visit of Narender Modi has cemented  this relationship more along with the new President, Donald Trump,  in which a lot of agreements were signed and in Indian foreign policy it is considered  a big forward push for the Modi’s vision of new Bharat at international level. The present relationship between the  two countries has been described  as “ at its best” by none other than the US President himself.

Although the relationship  is at its climax but  the statements of the two leaders during their latest joint press conference were a bit confusing and does lack clearity. In  their joint  Press Conference  the American President focused more on trade while the Indian Prime Minister  stressed more on  counter Terrorism  although the energy  too featured  in their statements

There is  a counter opinion to this Indo- US relationship in the diplomatic circles all around the world.  Those who do believe in this counter opinion, criticizes the recent joint ventures between India and the USA on the lack of clear vision . A good number  of the people do believe that the current heads of the USA and India  ( Donald  Trump and Narender  Modi ) are the result of mobocracy and radicalization instead of democracy and tolerance in the most diverse and plural nations of the world. The two leaders lack the world vision and are mostly unaware of the ethos and ethics of their nations in particular and of the  international power structure in general. The former Home Minister and a well reputed statesman of India  P. Chidambaram  has  raised his voice about the double standard of Donald Trump and the gross error of Indian Prime Minister to not recognize this, as in the press conference, the US administration has on one side,  registered  supreme leader of Hizbul Mujahedeen,  Syeed Sallah-U- Din,  in the list of global terrorist, and on the other side, the official statement referred the Jammu and Kashmir as the Indian Administered Kashmir hence recognized its disputed nature.

When the farmers in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh etc. are starving and are protesting in Andhra Pradesh, Utter Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab etc. for their survival. When the Naxalism is gaining its prominence due to the failures of government to provide the basic necessities and liberties to the people of affected areas .  When the big portion of people all over India suffer due to price rise, unemployment, poverty, malnutrition etc. when the Chinese good are making more inroads  in the Indian market due to the low price tags rather than the quality and when there is a genuine reluctance to the market aspirations of the USA on the above mentioned points, the  American Trump administration wants to control and hegemonies the Indian Market and consumer.

It is an established fact that the United States has been most unsuccessful  nation to counter terrorism in its own  patchy areas like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria  etc and in the rest of the world. Instead of controlling it, when the USA has been accused of fueling it more most importantly in the Muslim World, the BJP’s Modi wants to get help  from America to counter its terrorism that too against the Pakistan which has been a close ally of USA in its War against Terror since the 9/11 attacks of 2001. The two countries wants to have each other’s assistance in those areas, where  both had been unsuccessful .  It will be interesting to see the future of this relationship in the real sense of international politics, where there are no permanent friends and foes and beyond the myths of media hype.

(Masood Ali Mir teaches Political Science at GMBHSS, Bijbehara Anantnag, J&K and can be mailed at [email protected] )


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