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New Delhi: From a number of angles, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to the United States from June 21–23 2023 was historic. After previous President Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he was the third Indian leader to receive the honour of a state visit, which is the highest sign of cordial relations between two independent states. Prior to PM Modi, President Joe Biden had only welcomed two other world leaders as state guests, which highlights how much has changed in India-US relations over the past 25 years.

The visit took place at a time when Washington and Delhi are experiencing increased tensions as a result of Beijing’s disruptive policies and the US’s conflict with Russia following the Ukraine war. It was made clear by John Kirby, Coordinator for “Strategic Communication, National Security Council” at the White House, that although China came up in conversation, the visit itself was unrelated to China. Another White House official claimed that the purpose of the visit was not to use India as a counterbalance to China but rather to strengthen connections between the two biggest democracies in the world.

As yoga is India’s most well-known cultural export, the PM’s visit to New York began with the celebration of the Ninth International Yoga Day on June 21 at the UN headquarters. The following day in Washington, DC, President Biden gave PM Modi a warm welcome at the White House. After the two leaders’ historic summit in which they reaffirmed their commitment to a “Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” Modi was given the privilege of delivering the joint session of the US Congress for a second time.

The main force behind determining the future direction of the bilateral partnership has been identified as technology. The “Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology” (iCET) framework will make it easier for businesses and academic institutions to share and develop technology. By the end of 2023, NASA and ISRO will be working together to launch humans into space, and in 2024, they will mount collaborative missions to the International Space Station. Along with Micron Technology Inc.’s intention to spend $825 million to establish additional semiconductor assembly in India, an MOU on a semiconductor supply chain was signed. Additionally, Applied Materials Inc. Invest $400 million to construct a collaborative engineering centre. Two cooperative task forces have been established for the development of secure communications and digital inclusion, under the direction of the US Next G Alliance and the Bharat 6G Alliance of India. For the purpose of advancing “Quantum Information Science and Technology” activity, a cooperative coordination mechanism has been formed. Additionally, agreements for cooperation in the sectors of AI and atomic energy have been reached.

The next generation defence collaboration is powered by a number of important agreements that were inked. These include enhancing military industry collaboration, expediting the implementation of fundamental agreements, information sharing, boosting marine security, and starting a conversation in the fields of space and artificial intelligence. The “India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem” (INDUS-X) would encourage the development of advanced technologies together and the development of collaborative military technology.

A historic agreement allowing for increased jet engine technology transfer was signed by General Electric (GE) and Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) on the production of GE-F414 engines for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) MK-2. India intends to purchase 31 MQ-9B armed unmanned aerial vehicles from General Atomics, which will be built there. The Indian military forces’ “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance” capabilities will be significantly improved. With the signing of the “Master Ship Repair Agreements” with local shipyards, India’s position as a centre for the upkeep and repair of US Navy vessels in forward deployment received a further boost.

Both parties endorsed a rule-based international order that respects state sovereignty and territorial integrity as they worked to further their strategic convergence. The two leaders demanded stronger measures to lessen the effects of the Ukraine war because they both shared a great deal of concern about it. Biden reaffirmed US support for India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council (UNSC) as both sides pushed for substantial UN reforms. In light of growing tensions in the region, Biden and Modi reaffirmed their commitment to the Quad and repeated their desire for an open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific. They denounced the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for its ballistic missile tests and reiterated their commitment to the total denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The two leaders demanded that Pakistan take immediate action to stop cross-border terrorism and make sure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks. They also demanded that the attackers of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and Pathankot be brought to justice. They reiterated their steadfast support for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan as well as for the development of the I2U2 (India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and United States) alliance.

Both nations understood the potential of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and multilateral development banks to meet the global challenges of the twenty-first century and used the G20 to deliver common agendas. The Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) was also reaffirmed by the two leaders as a key tenet for coordinated efforts to develop robust supply chains and advance the two economies.

Growth is fueled by trade and investment partnerships, as shown by the fact that bilateral trade will reach $191 billion in 2022. By the end of the year, the India-US Trade Policy Forum will be reconvened after both nations have made steps to resolve the major unresolved problems. The “Innovation Handshake” idea aims to link the two sides’ vibrant startup ecosystems. According to PM Modi, the fusion of US technology innovation and Indian intellect ensured a promising future.

A Joint Task Force of the Association of American Universities and top Indian educational institutions has been established with the goal of empowering the next generation. A greater number of research collaborations and exchanges in the fields of semiconductors, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, health, and emerging technologies will result from the establishment of the Indo-US Global Challenge Institutes. Around 211,930 Indian students would be studying in the US as of 2022.

US-Indian relations are about to reach new heights. The rapid strengthening of the strategic alliance between Delhi and Washington is a result of the geopolitical rivalry with Beijing. While India is viewed as a possible competition, President Xi Jinping views the US as the only rival and obstacle to the realisation of his China dream. Given that many US partners are hesitant to take on China openly, Biden obviously lacks the confidence to take on Xi. India is therefore expected to counterbalance China and play a vital role in advancing the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy.foundation of its China strategy. India understands the Comprehensive National Power (CNP) asymmetry with respect to China and the necessity for US assistance in growing capability in addition to discouraging the dragon from engaging in significant blunders.

Beijing continues to be a significant global commercial partner despite American and Western efforts to lessen dependence on China by decoupling and de-risking the supply chain networks. India is proposed as a replacement for China in this context as a manufacturing centre. However, there remain obstacles in terms of infrastructure and a supportive ecosystem for technology enterprises to move to India, particularly under the iCET framework and INDUS-X plan. Even using dual-purpose technologies for protection comes with several challenges. The HAL and DRDO will need to get ready to quickly adopt the GE-F414 engines’ technology.

There are obvious consequences to India’s growing reliance on the US for weapons and technology while simultaneously weaning itself away from Russia. India and the US already have four fundamental defence accords in place, and India also enjoys special status as a significant defence partner and a non-member of NATO. US military assets will be more present in Indian defence facilities as a result of the new agreements and the expanding scope of Quad. Resetting India’s strategic calculus will require both rebalancing and recalibration as a result of the “new era” beginning in Indo-US ties.

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