Washington, April 18: India and the United States are today positioned to embark on a more closely collaborative path with growth in India providing it new impetus, according to Indian ambassador S. Jaishankar.
“The world the two nations seek does look similar in the big picture: with greater prosperity, more freedom, market economics, rule based regimes, and pluralistic societies,” he said Thursday at the Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“At a more practical level, this is being translated into ground reality,” Jaishankar said in a speech on “India and the United States: The Long View”, noting the two countries are each other’s premier partner when it comes to military exercises.
India has also emerged as the largest customer for American defence sales abroad, he said with their engagement spanning many more areas, from education and health to homeland security and energy.
“Our conversations too are more wide-ranging and honest, with less talking past each other,” Jaishankar said. “To set the new relationship in stone, however, requires much more work.”
“There are disappointments about missed opportunities. Short-term issues can crop up and even dominate in the absence of direction. After all, we have seen differences being publicly paraded after some years,” he said alluding to the Khobragade affair.
“The overhang of the old view too can persist, missing the point that our interests are convergent and not congruent,” Jaishankar said noting “arguments of over-investment will be made, particularly from those who never had much appetite for these ties.”
“But the fact is that public opinion in each country about the other has shifted clearly in a favourable direction,” the ambassador said noting “Our politicians and business leaders get it, as do scientists, educationists and the military.”
The economic reform in India, initiated two decades ago and pursued by successive governments had led to higher growth rates, better quality of
life and new markets within India, Jaishankar noted.
“One reflection of higher growth rates is the substantial expansion of the middle class,” he said noting “That not only drew more American companies to India but created the basis for a serious services industry.”
“Today, the services trade is almost as large as the one in merchandise. Many major American companies have operations in India, varying in their complexity and significance,” Jaishankar said
However, “attempts were being made to undermine our services trade using immigration reforms” he said referring to the current Senate bill which is discriminatory to India.
“This will only lessen the competitiveness of US companies but also negatively affect the strongest advocates in India of our relationship,” Jaishankar warned.