By Anirudh Ramakrishna Phadke
The following piece is a long-read. It is graded 7.5/10
India and the United States of America being the two big powers in the Indo-Pacific region also shares values of democracy at the fundamental level. Diplomatic relations between the two countries are the same as relations between two individuals. It is very complex with its success and failures. The same is applies to India and the United States of America. Both these nations established their first diplomatic relationship right in the year 1949 during the regime of Nehru-Truman. But the wind’s direction changed in the year 1954 when the United States signed a treaty with Pakistan and India laying the foundation for NAM (Non-Alignment Movement).
Later Nixon administration supports Pakistan in the Indo-Pak war of 1971 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Once again from the year 1990, India in its foreign policy adopted to the unipolar world and developed closer ties with the United States. The ties deepened during the Bush-Obama administrations where the United States demonstrated exemplary accommodation to India’s core national interests and acknowledged outstanding concerns.
Fast-forwarding to the current scenario, both the nations find themselves increasingly converging on the key geopolitical issues like counterterrorism, the free and open Indo-Pacific rules-based order, and the need for transparent and sustainable infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. In other words, under president Trump’s administration, both the nations have upgraded representation of speed and advancement on the path to a closer India-US diplomatic relationship. Trump’s official visit to India in early February this year proved to be the real cause of touching new heights in recent times.
However, in recent times amidst the global pandemic called COVID-19, that erupted in China late last year has proven to be a gamer changer, serving itself as a rich catalyst in India-US strategic partnership bringing the two biggest democratic powers of the world closer than ever. Both nations have been inter-dependent and supported each other to the core in every geopolitical aspect during these recent times amidst the pandemic.
No one can predict the future but instead one can connect the dots of the past happenings and perhaps come to a fluid conclusion of how the course of the future might occur. The same applies to this piece also. As the title goes “India-US ties in the Post-Pandemic Era”, this paper analyses some of the important key aspects of the India-US (Modi-Trump) partnership that occurred during the pandemic time and tracking its path into the upcoming years, concerning COVID-19, China, Military, Trade and Commerce, Energy, Space, and finally followed by a predicted analysis of newly elected president of the United States, that is, Biden’s foreign policy towards India as this will determine whether the ties built up through these years will continue in the post pandemic era or instead break away.
This global pandemic became a spark to reignite the diplomatic relations between both nations once again. India is well known as the pharmacy of the world, supplied medicine nearly to 150 countries, including the United States. Doctors and Healthcare from the Indian diaspora in the US have been and still at the forefront against this pandemic. Six Indian healthcare companies have joined hands with Gilead Sciences (an American biopharmaceutical company) to lead the COVID-19 vaccine research and bulk produce other essential vaccines demanded in the present situation. The VAP or the Indo-US Vaccine Action Program has been the forerunner which is a 33-year collaboration between the U.S National Institute of Health and the Indian Council of Medical Research. They have funded a total of $900 Million for vaccine research and delivered more than 250+ ventilators during the early pandemic times.
Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandu has quoted that the pandemic has created a new normal and early lockdown of the whole country has effectively curbed the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions have now lifted in almost every part of the country except for the containment zones. The same scenario is reciprocated in the US. Apart from doctors and healthcare being battling the COVID-19 at the forefront, Ambassador Sandu, also held a virtual meeting with the Sikh American community and other professional groups to enhance funding for the affected.
Moreover, the 2+2 global cooperation dialogue which was held before the US presidential elections gave some inputs about the joint role of India and the US combating the pandemic. One out of four major themes that were discussed revolved around eradicating the Wuhan virus in the guise of public health collaboration. A senior administration official during a conference call organized by the Foreign Press Center has quoted that COVID-19 vaccine research is boosted at a remarkable pace.
After slight diplomatic turbulence, India lifted the ban on hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug which went viral after trump called it to be the cure for the pandemic. Following days from lifting the ban of it, trump’s administration bought a sizable chunk of 29 million doses followed by another 21 million doses in another few months. A report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proven that the drug has shown positive results in the initial stage from over 1500 affected corona patients. Former President Trump said in a call with Sean Hannity of Fox News, that “Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi when asked to release the drug he did so. He is great… he was really good.”
Nevertheless, both the nations being the topmost affected by the global pandemic, they never failed to support each other in most wanted hours.
In recent times the India-U.S.-China triangle revolves much beyond vaccines, ventilators, drugs, and commerce. The pandemic is once again nature’s remainder to neutralize the threat posed by China not only to India and the U.S. but to the whole world. Though the Covid is a catalyst in fostering India-US friendly relations, it is still only a subset, While the major problems are hiding behind the curtains. The bitter truth, both the nations have to accept is that in recent decades China has proved its supremacy in all the geopolitical aspects, thus crushing the national interests of other countries including those of the U.S. and India. Irrespective of many countries accusing China of spreading COVID-19 in an attempt to flag biological warfare, the communist country turns all these accusations to its advantage, thus becoming the big brother of the world.
From the early start of this century, India and the US are leading contours of the Global Anti-China Alliance. Although showing strong measures against China-US never took massive offense until recently. The only mid-act of antagonism towards the communist friend was imposing restrictions on investment from Chinese firms into India in a bid to thwart a hostile takeover of Indian companies. Meanwhile, India hardened its stance by joining the other 62 countries in backing a draft to probe the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many US companies pledged to exit China during the peak time of the pandemic as they incurred heavy losses. It is proven that India will be the next global hub of manufacturing goods thus replacing China. It is a golden opportunity for both India and the US to tackle China in terms of Economy.
During the post-pandemic times, cross-border tensions increased between India and China in the region of Eastern Ladakh, especially in the Galwan Valley. A series of close quarter combat took place between June till August this year between the Indian and Chinese armies. Notable powers of the world including the U.S. raged over the cross-border tensions that occurred, thus backing up India against Chinese hunger for land. US diplomat Alice Wells quoted “Unlike in the past when the US had stayed clear treating this as a regional dispute this time it has indicated it will not be a mute spectator”. The 2+2 dialogue’s other theme quoted about neutralizing the Chinese threat.
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About the Author
The author is the founder & Chief Editor of The Viyug.