India – US relations : Start of a Lasting Relationship


India – US relations : Start of a lasting relationship. Can PM Modi call the SoS and SOD for a last minute cup of tea, going out of way.

Yesterday we were rather surprised to see the tweet from a retired veteran who saw India tilting towards the US relationship not very optimistically. His exact post was something like this , ” US-India 2+2 dialogue- India’s Def & Foreign Ministers with US counterparts commences today. Balance of power in the world has changed. no longer has the leverage in dealing with China. Countries hesitant to sign up with the US for a Mil alliance like NATO US.

We have reacted to his tweet in the following – “may not not be as strong as it is expected to be but let us be clear. China is not going to look benignly, therefore support from wherever will strengthen us. All said v must acknowledge, it’s too early to rule out US @DrSJaishankarMy 1 cent.”

Coming on the eve of visit two of the top US officers Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and secretary of Defence Mark Esper for the third round of 2+2 discussion in two years itself tells the significance of the talks and cooperation between India and the United States. Therefore Such tweets were rather childish on part of the brigadier ( sorry to say that) and we don’t know what prompted him to post and tag the minister of foreign affairs too.

Besides the timing, even the logic put by the brigadier is not worthy. As we have said in our tweet to expect China looking to us benignly in the near future is very bleak and a country which breaks all morality in one go after PM Modi’s personal courtship with XI for the better part of his tenure 1 only goes to show that China is above ‘Moh- Maya – Mamta’ kind of words and what works for her is only ‘ Aggression, Ambition and Amalgamation”.

We have wasted so many years in the fear that we will antagonise China that we didn’t pay any attention to the vulnerable borders. We didn’t talk to Taiwan and we didn’t say anything even to PoK and the CPEC project which directly hurts our geographical integrity.

We opened our markets to China and were flooded by all sort of cheap chinese goods even in sectors that should be ideally only for Indian small scale or the under privileged class like ‘Kumhar’ ( one who makes earthen lamps etc) to electric to of course the sui-dhaga ( needle and threads) besides keeping a blind eye and deaf ears in the realm of 5G and other security issues.

It seems that we Indians have a particular GENE that makes us happier and positive and optimist than others. For any other country in our place would have been serious enough to take the challenges coming from all sides quite early in life but the optimist that we are we said everything can be taken care of only that we may have to our lands not in inches but in kilometers.

Indo-US military cooperation in brief:

India and the U.S. will sign this last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA) during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue. While there are some minor differences on this they will be hopefully sorted out.

A maritime information agreement is also under discussion between India and the US, an official source stated. India already has such an agreement with other Quad countries, Australia and Japan and is important.

Both the countries are moving on good one to one military and scientific collaborations. India has posted a liaison officer at the U.S. Navy Central Command in Bahrain recently and is also considering a U.S. request for posting liaison officers at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The U.S. has already posted a liaison officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR).

There are 4 broad areas of discussions between India and US which are – Regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions, and defence trade.

Beginning 2016, India has signed three foundational agreements: the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) while the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed a long time ago. An extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed at the last 2+2 dialogue.

While LEMOA ( see above) has since been operationalised, COMCASA is in advanced stages of being operationalised. On September 25 2020, for the first time a US Navy P-8A long range Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) landed at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands for refuelling under LEMOA.

In July, frontline warships of the Indian Navy conducted a passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the US Navy’s Nimitz carrier strike group near the A&N islands as it was transiting the Indian Ocean after carrying out Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP) in the South China Sea.

India has also invited Australia for the crucial Malabar exercises which is an important part of QUAD grouping.


Indo -Pacific agreement offers an excellent opportunity to India to strengthen her not only maritime security but also to shore up global powers. QUAD is also an important aspect of this and we expect the government to move further and get signed. Obviously India has to take the required initiative for the same and cannot remain complacent and hoping that the US will always take the first step. Agreement between two nations is not just on the basis of mutual concerns and cooperation but also the willingness of each other for a lasting relationship overcoming short term hiccups and preparedness for the same.

India cannot any more remain cutoff from the global turmoil. The Turkey president has just demonstrated with his call to Boycott French Products from the islamic world. Earlier he has also made statements on Kashmir. American forces will be soon leaving Afghanistan completely. The Talibans have already started taking the reins in their hands and the bombs have started going boom taking valuable human lives with them. We expect the whole region from the eastern to the western borders of the country to be quite vulnerable not to speak of the chinese intrusions and Pak based terror.

Under the circumstances it is not only a prudent and wise decision to engage the United States but we must also treat this as GOD send opportunity that should not be lost. Non alignment is an old concept that suited Nehru and his romantic theories on geopolitical diplomacy and it has lived its age. The times have changed and one cannot remain isolated behind such vulnerable concepts especially when one has threats from all sides.

That leaves the only question of Russia which has remained our trusted partner even if that means some activities on behalf of Russia that cannot be said to be very healthy. But Russia can always be compensated with good military arms purchases till she is competent to do so. As of now we should not hold back the American overtures. It will be not only foolish but will seal our destiny permanently if we fail to be proactive now.

The country has to welcome both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of defence with open heart and arms. PM Modi must invite the two for a cup of tea to round up their visit. Whether Trump wins or loses but that will be indeed a powerful message to whichever party comes to White house.

Asheesh Shah
Author: Asheesh Shah

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