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India-US Relations: Promoting Synergy

Report of an Independent Core Group

External circumstances have changed the geo-political landscape of South Asia. This has profound implications for India-US relations especially after the traumatic events of 11 September. This Report concludes that it would best serve India's interests not to pursue any strategic alliance or partnership with the US. India's interests would best served by nuanced issue based policy, even while it broadens its economic relations with the US emphasizing their political, economic and cultural commonalties.


Further, India-US relations need to be configured around not permanent, but temporary identity of interests like halting WMD proliferation and pursuing the war against terrorism. The Report suggests that the US is unlikely to accept India's proceeding to deploy its nuclear arsenal, although this issue will remain in debate. The possibility of increasing bilateral military cooperation needs further exploration, apart from heightening other interactions like intelligence cooperation, defence research and development, and counter-terrorism.


The Report highlights the significance of the economic component of India-US relations which, currently, lacks depth and content to furnish the ballast for promoting synergy in their relations. India needs to open-up its economy further, while strengthening its domestic economy to face the challenges of globalization. The establishment of a free trade agreement in South Asia would provide considerable stimulus in this direction.


On the contentious issue of Kashmir, the Report suggests a role for the US to strive for a resolution of the problem based on India providing greater autonomy to Kashmir, Pakistan ceasing its support to cross-border terrorism, and both countries agreeing to convert the line of control into an international border.


Other key recommendations made in the Report are measures that India needs to take on the economic front, a bilateral dialogue at the Track I and Track II levels to explore the problems of governance in democratic societies, harmonizing India-US policies in the area of energy security, the need for India liberalizing its policy for issue of visas to American academics, encouraging professional linkages between NRIs and their counterparts in India, and streamlining procedures within the Government of India to avoid delays and bottlenecks in the fruitful progress of India-US relations.


New Delhi: Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, 2003

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