India-US Relations – Important Events of Strategic Partnership

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

India-US Relations share bilateral cooperation. This holds a broad spectrum and has multiple sectors, comprising trade and investment, education, defence and security, cyber security, science and technology, high technology, civil nuclear energy, clean energy, environment, space technology, applications, agriculture, and health. The US is India’s highly extensive strategic partner, and collaboration between the two expands across numerous domains. In the current scenario, India-US relations are very close and healthy. In fact, India and the US together participate in many events and conferences and stand together on many issues such as counter-terrorism and both commonly share a distrust of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program. India and the US keep on displaying their trust and friendship with each other on international platforms.

India-US Relations are an important aspect of the International Relations part of the UPSC Syllabus. The topic is of utmost importance from the exam point of view, pertaining to the fact that it is always in news. The article explains well in detail the key aspects of India-US Relations. Students should prepare the topic well in detail for the upcoming examinations.

Overview of India-US Relations

The India-US relations are complex and multifaceted as both nations are strategic partners in several areas. In terms of a strategic partnership, India and the US are two countries working closely on a range of issues like defence, counter-terrorism, and climate change. The two countries have also engaged in joint military exercises, and the United States has become a key supplier of defence equipment to India.

Furthermore, another area that is crucial to India-US relations is political cooperation. India and the US have collaborated closely on political issues, such as the promotion of human rights at the global level.

Under the new motto “Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go”, both countries are putting in efforts to enhance cooperation. The officials of both countries are connected to each other at political and official strata. They have conducted an extensive dialogue pertaining to global issues and that will have a direct influence on the inflating economies.

Areas of Cooperation in India-US Relations

India-US relations have been strategically quite strong because both countries have been visiting each other since 2009. In 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India to have a strategic dialogue in the month of July. The objective of this meeting was to strengthen the dual corporation across numerous sectors. The first round of this strategic dialogue was organized in Washington, DC, the United States in June 2010. The next meeting was held immediately after in 2011, in New Delhi, India. The third meeting of this strategic dialogue was held in Washington, DC in June 2012.

Timeline of Events of India-US Relations

Below is the timeline of the events that paved the path for a rock-solid foundation of India-US Relations. The timeline of all the meetings has been listed here.

  • 1949 – Indian PM meets USA President and the trip paved the way for India’s formal decree of neutrality in the cold war.
  • 1959 – Inspired by Gandhi’s non-violent struggle, Martin Luther arrives in India. Also, the first serving US President visits India.
  • 1962 – In cumulative nine universities of America and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) assisted India to institute the earliest Indian Institutes of Technology at Kanpur.
  • 1962 – Washington lends his support to India in the Indo-China border conflict, identifying the McMahon Line as the border, and facilitated arms and air assistance.
  • 1963 – Norman Borlaug visited India to initiate research about the high-yield wheat varieties. The association of Norman Borlaug with Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the renowned Indian scientist led the way to the “Green Revolution,”. India was suffering from food scarcity, and with the onset of the Green Revolution, it could embark on the path of self-sufficiency.
  • 1974 – India completes first Nuclear test- the move led to a phase of alienation between the USA and India
  • 1978 – The USA implements the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act, which mandated countries that were not a part of the Nonproliferation Treaty including India to permit examination of the nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. India denied it, and Washington ceased nuclear aid to Delhi.
  • 1991 – India launches Economic Reforms that help expand economic ties with the US.
  • 1998 – India tests Nuclear devices and badly damages its relationship with the US.
  • 2000 – The visit of the US President ends the estrangement of the post-1998 Indian nuclear weapons tests.
  • 2001 – The US lifts all remaining authorizations that were urged on India after its 1998 nuclear test.
  • 2005 – The United States and India sign the New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship.
  • 2010 – The United States and India formally convene the first US-India Strategic Dialogue.
  • 2011 – The United States and India sign a Memorandum of Understanding in New Delhi to promote closer cybersecurity cooperation.
  • 2016 – The United States elevates India to a major defence partner, a status no other country holds.
  • 2018 – During a “two-plus-two” dialogue in New Delhi; COMCASA signed.
  • 2020 – The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) is the last of four foundational military agreements signed by both countries over the past two decades.
  • 2022 – At the recent 2+2 Dialogue a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on space situational awareness was signed between India and US.

Political Cooperation Between India-US Relations

India and the US have been in contact at both the political and the official levels on regional, bilateral, and global matters. Concerning the United States, India is the masterpiece of the Indo-Pacific strategy of Joe Biden’s administration. India is one of the very few countries with whom the US has a 2+2 dialogue mechanism. The India-US relations are well-renowned.

Although there is a difference of opinion between the two countries regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, both countries are maintaining continuous cooperation by rising above the differences.

High-Level Dialogue Between India And US

The United States is India’s old and most significant 2+2 partner. The first 2+2 high-level dialogue took place in 2018 during the Trump Administration. Recently, the fourth ‘2+2’ high-level dialogue between India and the United States took place in Washington D.C. This meeting was held on the sidelines of a virtual meeting that included India’s Prime Minister and the President of the United States. In this meeting, India and the US signed a bilateral arrangement of space situational awareness.

It will help to lay down more space work for both countries. Both countries also agreed to launch an inaugural defence intelligence dialogue. They also agreed to maintain a close look and consultation on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine due to the Russia-Ukraine War. The major high-level key dialogues between the two include-

India-US Relation-Dialogue/Partnership/Forum Lead By
India- US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue Heads of foreign and defence ministries of India and the U.S.
India – US Economic and Financial Partnership Finance Minister (FM) and the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
India – US Commercial Dialogue U.S. Secretary of Commerce
India – US Trade Policy Forum Minister of Commerce and Industry and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
India – US Homeland Security Dialogue (HSD) Minister of Home Affairs and the Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
India – US Strategic Energy Partnership Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

India-US Relations: Defence Relations

Defence relations have played a significant role in strengthening India-US relations. Walk through the points that have been illustrated here for India-US relations to be able to gain insights into the topic.

  • India and the US have Joint Committee on Defence and various other groups that involve defence trade, cooperation in maritime security, personnel exchanges, joint exercises, etc.
  • The US’s defence cooperation and strategic convergence with India now exceed that of some formal treaty allies. The India-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) aims to enhance co-development and co-production efforts.
  • The US has granted the status of a ‘non-NATO ally’ to India. India has also been recognized as a major defence partner and has been granted Strategic Trade Authorization Tier 1 (STA-1), relieving regulations for US high-tech defence and aerospace exports.
  • In the time period between 2016 and 2020, India and the United States initiated a new “2+2” defence and foreign ministers’ dialogue. They signed the three main foundational military agreements.
  • Both parties also agreed to and signed HOSTAC [ Helicopter cross-decking Agreement] and ISA [Industrial Security Annex] to the GOSMIA [ General Security of Military Information Agreement] that permitted the US government to provide restricted data to Indian defence firms.

India-US Relations: Counter-Terrorism And National Security

Counter-terrorism and national security are of prime importance for both countries as they have suffered the ill effects of terrorism during the 26/11 and the 9/11 attacks. There is cooperation between the two countries to look after these matters.

  • A Homeland Security Dialogue is also established between the Union Home Ministry and the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Both countries share intelligence and have also agreed to work together toward the elimination of crimes related to drugs.
  • The United States is constantly supporting India in the matters of counter-terrorism by blacklisting individuals and organizations that are actively involved in activities of terrorism against India. However, the soft approach that the US has adopted towards activities of terrorism in Pakistan is preventing the formation of meaningful cooperation between the two countries.
  • Diplomatic mechanisms such as the US–India Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group and the US–India Designation Dialogues have assisted in constructing further dependence between the two.
  • The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in mid-2021 is threatening both countries’ security interests.

India-US Relations: Cyber Security Cooperation

The bilateral relationship between India and the United Nations has cooperation on cyber issues. Both India and the United Nations consistently work on their strategic partnership, which can be seen through–shared values, national security, principles of cyber scale, economic factors, democratic traditions, and a common vision.

  • Both countries exchange commitment to encourage the expansion of the Internet which will act as an engine for economic growth, innovation, trade, and commerce.
  • In March 2021, the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum’s US India Artificial Intelligence (USIAI) initiative was presented to lay concentration on the cooperation of Artificial Intelligence, comprising collective research and growth, domain-specific research, smart cities, agriculture, material, energy, and manufacturing.
  • In 2021 September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the US Joe Biden talked over extensive associations and collaborations in the domains of cyber, space, security, health, semiconductors, AI, 5G, 6G, Blockchain, and future-generation communications technology. They also talked about the necessity to cater to the weaknesses and threats in cyberspace, pledging to collaborate efforts to reply to cyber threats via joint meetings, dialogues, training, and sharing effective practices.
  • US and India should also consider joint tabletop exercises, involving CERT-In, Defence Cyber Agency, and the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) to enhance cyber security operations.
  • The US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation could seek further cooperation and information exchange with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on combating cybercrimes.

India-US Relations: Energy and Climate Change

In recent years, India-US relations on energy and climate change have seen significant progress as both nations understand the importance of greater cooperation and collaboration on these issues. Besides, India and the United States are two of the greatest energy consumers in the world. Hence, these nations must contribute to advancing global efforts to combat climate change and transition to a low-carbon future.

Both India and the US have signed the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming and reduce carbon emissions. Also, the two countries have worked to enhance India-US relations on energy efficiency, renewability, and access.

India-US Relations: Civil Nuclear Cooperation

In the past decade, India-US Relations on civil nuclear cooperation have undergone significant developments:

  • In 2005, the US and India signed the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, which opened up possibilities of civil nuclear trade between both countries.
  • Since then, the two nations have started several initiatives, including the US-India Nuclear Energy Working Group, which promotes nuclear energy cooperation in research, safety, and security.
  • In 2016, the US supported India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • India and the US have partnered several times to construct nuclear power plants and to supply nuclear fuel.

India-US Relations: Science And Technology

Both India and the United States believe that innovation and discovery in the field of science and technology are a must to address key global challenges such as healthcare, energy conservation, water, food, security, and so on.

  • India and the US firmly believe in research and development and are building private and public partnerships that promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of science and technology.
  • The Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum (IUSSTF) which was established by India and the U.S. as an autonomous, bi-national organization in the year 2000 promotes cooperation in Science, Technology, and Innovation and is playing an important role in strengthening cooperation in this field.
  • The India-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement signed in 2005, was renewed for a period of ten years in 2019.
  • The India-U.S Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation regularly reviews the status of cooperation and identifies new areas for furthering space cooperation.
  • ISRO and NASA are also working towards intensifying cooperation.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding between India and the US was signed in October 2021 on health and medicines.
  • In the field of space and technology, the Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite made with the cooperation of NASA and ISRO is expected to launch in 2023.
  • Various other developments including the expansion of the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centers, etc are taking place between both countries.

India-US Relations: Indian Diaspora And Cultural Cooperation

Indian diaspora and cultural cooperation have been key catalysts in strengthening India-US relations for a very long time. Since the beginning of his tenure, PM Narendra Modi has emphasized the importance of the Indian diaspora which acts as a link between India and the US. Both countries have benefited a lot as a result of this cooperation.

Almost 1% of the total U.S. population consists of Indians and Indian Americans. ‘India: Partner in Growth’, a weekly newsletter concentrating on business and strategic matters, and ‘India Live’, a monthly newsletter that provides information on initiatives of the Embassy and the Consulates, and on major developments in India.

India-US Relations: Trade and Economic

The bilateral relationship between India and the US has been characterized by a strong economic and trade partnership. There is no trade agreement between India and the United States.

  • The then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner launched a new US financial and economic partnership in New Delhi to strengthen the bilateral engagement on macroeconomic, financial, and investment-related issues.
  • In June 2011, the US and India held their second meeting together for financial and economic partnership.
  • A US trade policy forum was established in 2005 to discuss trade-related issues between India and the United States.
  • In September 2010, Washington, DC, hosted the 7th and last trade policy forum meeting.
  • The bilateral India-US CEO forums were reconstituted in 2009 in order to engage more actively in the private sector and discuss trade and investment in it. In September 2011, the 4th CEO forum in reconstituted form was held in Washington, DC, facilitating the dialogue between government and industry.
  • In addition, an independent private sector advisory group comprised of Indian and international trading experts was formed to assist India’s US trade policy forum by suggesting strategic recommendations and insights.
  • The US accounted to be India’s largest export destination. It was also the second-largest trading partner in 2020-21. The numbers of exports to the US in 2020-21 were valued at $51.62 billion and imports at $28.88 billion, leading to a trade deficit of about $23 billion for the US.

India-US Relations: Educational Field

Education plays a crucial role in maintaining relations between India and the US as a great number of Indian youth go for higher education in reputed and recognized universities in the US. The US is the most favored destination by Indian students for higher education. Cultural cooperation manifests in form of India-focused educational programs at Universities and educational institutions.

In the fourth 2+2 dialogue that took place between both countries, ministers lauded the linkage of India and the US because of education. The countries have decided to promote education and skill development through joint cooperation.

India-US Relations: Regional and International Cooperation

The partnership which exists between India and the US stands strong on the pillars of democratic principles, commitment to freedom, human rights, equal treatment of all citizens, and the rule of law. Both countries also share interests in encouraging global security, and economic prosperity through trade, connectivity, investment, and stability. U.S. has expressed support for India’s permanent membership in a reformed N. Security Council and for India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The development of India is supported by the United States and efforts are made to convert the Indo-Pacific into a region of stability, peace, and prosperity. The Counties also cooperate in the fields of energy, high technology, trade, and space.

Future of India-US Relations

The future of India-US relations will be shaped by several factors. The factors that may influence the future of these two countries and their relations are mentioned below:

  • Economic Ties: Both India and US understand the importance of trade and investment. Since India is one of the fastest-growing economies, the US is a major investor in India. The two nations are likely to continue their economic ties to promote growth and prosperity.
  • Global Challenges: An important aspect of India-US relations is that both countries share some common interests in global issues like climate change and terrorism. The two nations will continue to promote international cooperation and work on these challenges together.
  • Technological Cooperation: Both nations are likely to enhance cooperation in emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, data regulation, cybersecurity, and more. Both nations are leaders in technology and innovation and have a growing interest in collaboration.

Lastly, a major aspect of India-US relations is the strategic partnership between the two nations, which has only become stronger over the years and will continue in the future.

India-US Relations UPSC

India-US Relations is one of the most important topics of International Relations, covered under the IAS Syllabus. Both the UPSC Prelims and Mains cover this topic well in depth. India-US Relations mostly remain in news throughout the year. It is necessary that the aspirant keeps updating the notes with the Current Affairs and watches Daily Current Affairs Video to critically examine the relationship between the two largest economies of the world.

The article covers the major aspects of India-US Relations well in depth. The PDF should be kept handy for all the last-minute revisions before one attempts the IAS Exam.

India-US Relations UPSC PDF

To cover India-US Relations, one should with the NCERT Books and then move forward with the International Relations Books. Solving previous year’s question papers helps in analyzing the UPSC Exam Pattern.

Questions on India-US Relations

It is of prime essentiality for the candidates to be well versed with the complete details of India-US Relations to be able to gain insights into the essential topic. You can practice the sample questions to get acquainted with the exam pattern and the type of questions that have been marked here. The questions have been curated by the experts to enable the candidates in getting versed in India-US relations.

Question: The 123 Agreement between India and the US is finally operationalized between the two countries after the deal is signed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his counterpart Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington D C. in the year-  [A] 2008, [B] 2009, [C] 2011,  [D] 2005

Answer: (Option A) 2008

Mains Question: What are the recent developments in India-US relations? What are the issues pertaining to the India-US relations?

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