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Showing posts for "U.S.-India Relations"

More on “Going It Alone”: India and Internet Governance

by Adam Segal

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma poses for photos with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the end of the fifth India-Brazil-South Africa summit (IBSA) in Pretoria October 18, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters)

I’ll go ahead and jump in late to the discussion Liz and Evan were having about India’s foreign policy. Despite their different focus, they do seem to converge around the point that India now frequently charts its own course, in some instances moving closer to the United States, in others China, and in some cases remaining distant from both and finding other partners.

A recent declaration about the need for a new organization, within the United Nations framework, to oversee global Internet governance highlights how India is trying to walk that tightrope. At first glance, the declaration, which was made at the end of the fifth IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) summit in Pretoria, seems harmless enough. The Internet is clearly a global issue lacking an effective governance mechanism. Moreover, as emerging economies, India, Brazil, and South Africa tend to see the current structure as dominated by the United States and American companies. The Hindu quoted the head of an Indian NGO: “Internet-related policies today are made either by mega global digital corporations or directly by pluri-lateral bodies of the rich nations, like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

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India’s Message to China and the United States: We’ll Go It Alone

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh on November 11, 2009

A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh on November 11, 2009. (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, I joined my colleagues Paul Stares, Dan Markey, and Micah Zenko in Delhi for a few days of discussions with senior Indian officials, experts, and journalists. We covered a fair amount of the U.S.-India political waterfront, including bilateral relations, China, Pakistan, and broader Asia. The discussions were quite lively: a great thing about foreign policy experts in India is that there are as many opinions expressed as there are people—a breath of fresh air after more constrained or sometimes just strained discussions with Chinese counterparts. While the variety of views we heard makes it hard to generalize, some common themes emerged. Put in rather stark terms, they boil down to:

Beijing is not trustworthy

An overarching theme was China’s growing “confidence, hubris, and economic ascension.” Some Indians argued that China is challenging the existing power equation and trying to limit the extent of any other power in the region, particularly the United States and India. Not surprisingly, worry over China’s intentions in South and Southeast Asia was paramount—and continued Chinese territorial claims to Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India were a central source of concern. (India has reportedly just sited missiles in the region.)

At the same time, the Indians with whom we met generally admired China’s ability to get things done, particularly in terms of modernizing the country and developing the infrastructure. Read more »

Can India and America Up Their Investment Game?

by Evan A. Feigenbaum
Commuters on a suburban train during the morning rush hour in Mumbai.

Commuters on a suburban train during the morning rush hour in Mumbai.Danish Siddiqui/Courtesy Reuters.

My latest column is out in India’s financial daily, the Business Standard. I used this month’s column to talk a bit about structural impediments hindering U.S. investment in India. These challenges will grow if, as many economists suspect, India’s growth continues to slow from its restored post-crisis clip of 8 to 9 percent a year to something more on the order of 7 to 7.5 percent. And in that context, it’s worth noting that Indian stocks have just completed their worst quarter since 2008. And of course food price inflation remains as stubborn as ever.

Here’s my argument, which reflects in part a perspective from my new perch in Chicago rather than Washington, DC:

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Can the U.S. and India Cooperate in Central Asia?

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inspect the guard of honor during their meeting in Astana April 16, 2011. Courtesy Reuters/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov.

As the U.S. moves toward military withdrawal from Afghanistan, will its commitment to continental Asia slide too?

My latest “DC Diary” column in India’s leading financial daily, the Business Standard, argues that the question is important to both the United States and India. It matters to Washington because Americans have other interests in Central Asia, quite apart from prosecuting the war. It matters to India because Central Asian governments will have fewer strategic options if the U.S. simply fades away.

Here’s the central reality: U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will mean a reduced footprint in Central Asia. But the United States certainly doesn’t have to disappear. And the U.S. and India, too, have some shared strategic interests, not least in facilitating the reconnection of Central Asia to the world economy.

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New Delhi Buys a Plane, Not a Defense Relationship

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

Cadets march during celebrations to mark the combined graduation parade for the flight cadets of the Indian Air Force at Dundigal. (Courtesy Reuters/Krishnendu Halder).

Defense is widely viewed in U.S. strategic circles as a pivotal sector for future U.S.-India cooperation. And at more than $10 billion, India’s procurement of 126 new multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) is among the world’s richest pending weapons purchases.  So by shortlisting two European competitors and passing on two U.S. bids, New Delhi has chosen a plane but, I fear, tapped the brakes on broadened security ties with Washington.

My good friend, Dan Twining, has an optimistic take on this over at Foreign Policy.com.  And since Dan and I are true believers in the U.S.-India partnership, I hope he’s right.  After all, the strategic rationale for closer U.S.-India ties transcends an airplane and very much remains.

But I fear the decision will dampen enthusiasm for India among powerful U.S. political and industrial lobbies.  And I fear it will raise questions for others about the scope of U.S.-India strategic cooperation.  Indeed, that’s true even in India.  Take Sanjaya Baru, my editor at the Business Standard and former media advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  Sanjaya has made this argument from the Indian end:  “The decision to make India’s choice of fighter jet a technical one,” he argues in his biweekly column, “was political.” And, he muses, the story says something important about the future trajectory of U.S.-India security ties.

Common interests will, of course, sustain the relationship, but skeptical voices will become more prominent in both capitals and the pace of big-ticket bilateral initiatives could slow.  That would be a shame.

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Time for a U.S.-India Investment Treaty

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

Passengers travel in an overcrowded train in the eastern Indian city of Patna, February 23, 2010. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

It’s been a while since I last blogged on India. So my latest “DC Diary” column in India’s leading financial daily, the Business Standard, offers a good opportunity to do so. The column revisits—and then makes—the case for a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the United States and India.

Why? Here’s my argument:

India has concluded a raft of trade agreements—with Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, and many others—and it looks set to launch negotiations for many more. But the United States is the forgotten player, in part because Washington has yet to sort out its own trade priorities with India.

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Why We Aren’t China

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

My latest “DC Diary” column is out in India’s leading financial daily, the Business Standard.  The piece tries to hone in on some qualities that increasingly bind Indian and American business—qualities that, I think, got a bit lost amid the high-profile commercial diplomacy surrounding President Obama’s November 5-8 visit to India.

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U.S. and India Tackle Cyber Cooperation

by Adam Segal
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Cybersecurity was one of the nineteen issues listed by the White House that the United States and India would and could cooperate more closely on as they build their “strategic relationship” (Interestingly, despite the tendency of some, myself included, to clump them together, cybersecurity was listed as a separate issue from defending the common domains of space, air, and sea; sources in Delhi suggested that the U.S. side was resistant to identifying cyberspace as a commons).

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Continental and Maritime in U.S.-India Relations

by Evan A. Feigenbaum

The Indian financial newspaper, Business Standard, has published my latest “DC Diary” column.  With President Obama landing in New Delhi this week, it seemed like a good time to ask why Washington and New Delhi remain so burdened, even imprisoned, by continental preoccupations.

To Americans, India can be a real jumble of contradictions.  It is a maritime nation—strategically situated near key chokepoints—but with a continental strategic tradition.  It is a nation of illustrious mercantile traditions but for decades walled off large swaths of its economy.

Much has changed, principally because rapid economic growth has allowed India to break from the confining shackles of South Asia.  India is again an Asian player, better integrated into the East Asian economic system.  And it has a growing capacity to influence the wider Asian balance of power.

So, here’s my question:  Given all that change, why are the U.S. and India so bogged down in (and over) continental Asia?

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India-U.S.-China Strategic Triangle

by Adam Segal
Statue of Indian Elephant


After a week of meetings with Indian academics, think tank analysts, and government officials, I came away with a clear sense that there is a great deal of concern about China in Delhi these days. There was not a lot of talk about opportunities in the bilateral relationship, and I lost count of the number of times I heard the phrase “new aggressiveness”. Other popular expressions included “pushing at our borders” and “spreading influence throughout South Asia.” More people at the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence, I was told, would be spending more time on China issues.

It was also hard to escape geopolitics. Indian interests now extend from Aden to Singapore, from the Straits of Hormuz to Malacca. Delhi will economically integrate with Asia, and work closely with Hanoi and Tokyo. China, in turn, is exploiting the chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan to extend its influence in the region and into Central Asia.
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