U.S. policy towards India

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U.S. policy towards India is necessarily complex; in dealing with the world's largest democracy; in dealing with a major country with complex relations with Russia, China and Pakistan; and in dealing with a country with complex and controversial commercial relationships. Among the most challenging matters are dealing with India as a state with nuclear weapons that is not a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and is in a tense relationship with another such state. Another critical international issue is the effects of the Indo-Pakistani relationship on the Afghanistan War (2001-).

There are a great many Indian professionals on legitimate work visas in the U.S., but complaints they may be taking American jobs. Even more intense are criticisms of U.S. jobs being moved to India.

High-level contacts

In July 2005, President George W. Bush hosted Prime Minister Singh in Washington, DC. The two leaders announced the successful completion of the NSSP, as well as other agreements which further enhance cooperation in the areas of civil nuclear, civil space, and high-technology commerce. Other initiatives announced at this meeting include: [1]

  • U.S.-India Economic Dialogue
  • Fight Against HIV/AIDS
  • Disaster Relief
  • Technology Cooperation
  • Democracy Initiative
  • Agriculture Knowledge Initiative
  • Trade Policy Forum, Energy Dialogue and CEO Forum.

President Bush made a reciprocal visit to India in March 2006, during which the progress of these initiatives were reviewed, and new initiatives were launched.

2008 Presidential campaign

Politico magazine reports that Barack Obama, during the 2008 campaign, upset India when he told Time Magazine that he would attempt to mediate the Kashmir problem, mentioning Bill Clinton, not popular in India, as a mediator.[2]

2009 Ministerial contacts

In July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to India to launch the “Strategic Dialogue,” which called for collaboration in a number of areas, including energy, climate change, trade, education, and counterterrorism.

2009 Washington Summit

Before the summit, there was tension due to statements made by President Obama on his November 2009 trip to Japan, China and Korea. "In Tokyo, Obama gave a speech on the importance of Asia without once mentioning India. And in a joint statement with Chinese Premier Hu Jintao, Indians saw signs of Obama encouraging a larger Chinese role in mediating relations between historical rivals India and Pakistan."[2]

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came to Washington, on 23 November 2009, for the first state visit of the Barack Obama administration.[3]


The United States is now India's largest trading partner, which grew to USD $50 billion in 2008, up from $5 billion in 2001. Indian market reforms have made trade much more attractive.[3]

Nuclear issues

In late September 2001, President George W. Bush lifted sanctions imposed under the terms of the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act following India's nuclear tests in May 1998. The nonproliferation dialogue initiated after the 1998 nuclear tests has bridged many of the gaps in understanding between the countries. In a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee in November 2001, the two leaders expressed a strong interest in transforming the U.S.-India bilateral relationship. High-level meetings and concrete cooperation between the two countries increased during 2002 and 2003. In January 2004, the U.S. and India launched the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), which was both a milestone in the transformation of the bilateral relationship and a blueprint for its further progress.

In December 2006, Congress passed the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Cooperation Act, which allows direct civilian nuclear commerce with India for the first time in 30 years, in spite of India not having signed the NPT. It allows India to buy U.S. nuclear reactors and fuel for civilian use.

In July 2007, the United States and India reached a historic milestone in their strategic partnership by completing negotiations on the bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, also known as the "123 agreement." This agreement, signed by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and External Affairs Minister Mukherjee on October 10, 2008, governs civil nuclear trade between the two countries and opens the door for American and Indian firms to participate in each other's civil nuclear energy sector.

Major power relations

There have been suggestions that the Obama Administration may be paying too much attention to China and Russia, and not enough to India. [4]


According to Fareed Zakaria, Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that "increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures." Zakaria called this bizarre, pointing out that India is naturally the major power of South Asia. "This is like noting that the United States has had growing influence in Mexico over the past few decades. He said that while India indeed wants to build influence, its aid goes mostly to infrastructure, not covert operations. "India's objectives are exactly aligned with America's -- to defeat the Taliban and to support the elected Afghan government. "[4]


India faces a number of terrorism threats, some internal, and also related to the tense situation with Pakistan and the disputed area of Kashmir.

Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) is generally believed to have conducted the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but Pakistan has not yet pursued it to the satisfaction of India. Internal Pakistani politics about Kashmir play a role.

Outsourcing and guest workers