CUTS Washington Monthly Brief
#29, August 2020
Advancing Indo-U.S. relations in this age of aspirations
India’s relationship with the United States has been on an upward trajectory from the last two and a half decades. The U.S. administrations from President Bill Clinton to President Donald Trump have all aspired to work with India to create a favourable environment for India’s resounding growth trajectory. There was a bipartisan support always.

Since 1950 until before the economic liberalisation in 1991, the Indian economy was doubling every twenty years. After that, it was doubling every ten years on average till 2019.  The country aspires to be a US$5tn economy by 2025 and expectedly US$10tn by 2030. Despite being unfathomable, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 induced downsides, the growing foundational linkages of friendship between the two countries can be instrumental in shaping that.

In fact, if mutual tensions over India’s nuclear tests around the turn of the Century can within a decade transform into a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact, it could be taken more as a possibility. Such a spirit and tenacity can actually underpin the ability of the next U.S. administration to take bilateral relations to exceptional heights.

In order to realise this aspiration, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the U.S. President Donald Trump have together created an incredible scale for mutual cooperation on a range of bilateral and global issues. This is further emboldened with a strengthened bipartisan consensus in the U.S. in favour of an even stronger bilateral relationship. That is clearly visible in the U.S. presidential election campaigns.

For example, the democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, has been a fervent supporter of Indo-U.S. civil nuclear cooperation, among others. His vice presidential companion Kamala Harris talks about and relate to her Indian heritage, quite fondly.

Such a level of deepened efforts and enhanced understanding will be a guiding framework for the Indo-U.S. relations for the next U.S. administration. Not only will that strengthen the ongoing but also expand near future and post-pandemic opportunities for businesses and people in both countries. 

The avenues for deepening mutual partnerships include defence and aerospace, energy, agricultural technology and services, healthcare, among others. Scope for embracing cutting edge technologies and developing underlying infrastructure remains scalable.  India’s overall thrust for the Champion Sectors  creates a greater scope for the U.S. capital and technology in the country.

This way the two countries can not only justify bilateral but also can realign global supply chains much more strategically while supporting each other and taking forward their shared values and vision.  
Pradeep S. Mehta

P.S. Does China’s unprovoked test firing of missiles in the disputed South China Sea signal the beginning of a military escalation in the Indo-Pacific region? 

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Why 5G is first stage of US-China tech war
The United States’ tech war on China continues, banning Chinese equipment from its network, and asking its Five Eyes partners and NATO allies to follow suit. It is a market- and technology-denial regime that seeks to win back manufacturing that the US and European countries have lost to China.
Is the U.S. restriction on immigrants a gain or loss?
The H-1B visa restrictions have invited a lot of criticism for the Trump administration from various spheres such as American Universities, research labs and tech giants. Major companies including Apple, Microsoft and Facebook denounced such restrictions saying the action is fundamentally against the U.S. Interests. With growing criticism and because of the world's best talents moving out of the U.S. to Canada and other parts of the world, the Trump administration relaxed some rules of the restrictions.

China’s strategy of economic self-reliance, under label of ‘dual circulation’, has been sharpened by pandemic
China has been the chief beneficiary of the globalisation of the world economy which began accelerating since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. This phase of relatively free movement of capital and technology and goods and services enabled China to transform itself into a low-cost manufacturing hub for the world. It became an export powerhouse leveraging its access to the large consuming markets of the US, Europe and Japan.

What progress on the India-US trade front should look like?
In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), made several adverse observations about India. He observed that from Washington DC’s perspective, making “concessions on trade (to India) to achieve broader diplomatic aims…can prove costly in the long run”.


Partnership UNEP and ReNew Power to increase access to clean, efficient energy in India
India’s largest renewable energy company, ReNew Power, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have signed a partnership agreement to promote increased access to renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. The strengthened partnership between the two parties – who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 10th July 2020 in Delhi- focuses on enhancing access to renewable energy and improving energy efficiency as part of the progressive strategies that India has adopted to realize its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.
Breakthrough in Artificial Photosynthesis Lets Scientists Store The Sun's Energy as Fuel
Plants have a seemingly effortless skill – turning sunlight into energy – and scientists have been working to artificially emulate this photosynthesis process. The ultimate benefits for renewable energy could be huge – and a new approach based on 'photosheets' could be the most promising attempt we've seen so far.

Should the government promote EV battery swapping?
Recently, the government allowed electric vehicles to be sold and registered without batteries. The rationale behind the move, it explained, was to de-link the cost of the battery from the vehicle cost. Battery accounts for 30-40 per cent of an electric vehicle’s cost and this move would bring down the upfront cost of an electric two-wheeler or a three-wheeler at par or even lower than those powered by internal combustion engines.
Harris pledges to rejoin the Paris Climate agreement and re-enter Iran nuke deal if voted to power
Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic Party's vice-presidential candidate, has pledged to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and re-enter the Iran nuclear deal to restore "our place in the world" and win back the "trust and support" of the US' Asian and European allies if her party wins the November presidential election.


Why America Must Lead Again
By nearly every measure, the credibility and influence of the United States in the world have diminished since President Barack Obama and I left office on January 20, 2017. President Donald Trump has belittled, undermined, and in some cases abandoned U.S. allies and partners. He has turned on our own intelligence professionals, diplomats, and troops. He has emboldened our adversaries and squandered our leverage to contend with national security challenges from North Korea to Iran, from Syria to Afghanistan to Venezuela, with practically nothing to show for it. 

Amid Chinese aggression, India invites Vietnam to be part of Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative
India has invited Vietnam to part of its Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in 2019. Increasing trade connectivity- maritime transport and Maritime security are among the seven key pillars of the initiative. Other five are-- Maritime ecology, maritime resources, capacity building and resource sharing, disaster risk reduction and management, science, technology and academic cooperation.
Closer India-US ties important amidst Chinese “aggression”, says US lawmakers
Throwing their weight behind the India-US relationship which enjoys bipartisan support, two top American lawmakers have said that close partnership between the two countries assumes significance in view of the 'aggression' that New Delhi faces from Beijing. Writing jointly to demonstrate the strong bipartisan support for the US-India relationship, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said members of both the parties recognise the impact that a strong US-India partnership will have on the trajectory of the 21st century.

US Defense Dept Working Toward Networked Indo-Pacific
When Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper talks about the Indo-Pacific he talks about it becoming a “networked region” — not in the information technology sense, but as like-minded countries working together. His travels to the region this week and previously are to encourage this concept, said David Helvey, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific affairs.


Decoding the legacy of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s departing prime minister
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, announced on August 28 that he would resign, ending a term in office in which he pursued — with mixed results — a conservative agenda of restoring the country’s economy, military and national pride. Abe, 65, the grandson of a prime minister, was initially elected to Parliament in 1993 after the death of his father, a former foreign minister. He first served as prime minister beginning in 2006, but stepped down after a scandal-plagued year in office.

Chinese, Indians constitute 48% of foreign students in US in 2019: Report
Chinese and Indians accounted for 48 per cent of all active foreign students in the US in 2019, according to an official report. A report on immigration students in US, released on Friday by the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP) -- a part of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- said there were 1.52 million active records in SEVIS for F-1 and M-1 students during calendar year 2019, a 1.7 percent decrease from 2018.
Panel of US firms to push back against India’s regulation of non-personal data
India’s plan to regulate “non-personal” data has jolted US tech giants Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, and a group representing them is preparing to push back against the proposals, according to sources and a letter seen by Reuters. A government-appointed panel in July recommended setting up a regulator for information that is anonymised or devoid of personal details but critical for companies to build their businesses.
India-US healthcare partnership crucial in battle against coronavirus: Ambassador Sandhu
The India-US cooperation is proving crucial to confront the health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, including future vaccine development and distribution, New Delhi’s top envoy in the US has said. India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Monday and said:”As societies that respect innovation, India and the United States can do much to provide solutions to the novel coronavirus pandemic and to build a healthier, safer world beyond.”
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