An Important Opportunity for India and the US

Ambassador Robert Blake at Asia Society's New York Center on Nov. 10, 2009.
Ambassador Robert Blake at Asia Society's New York Center on Nov. 10, 2009.

NEW YORK, November 10, 2009 - Buoyed by a strong electoral mandate and a resilient economy, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United States is expected to bring a renewed sense of optimism and purpose. However, the Prime Minister has a few domestic and international challenges that he will need to address, according to Ambassador Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of South and Central Asian Affairs at the State Department.

The Indian economy continues to grow at 6.5 percent with major reforms in technology, telecommunications, and manufacturing propelling that growth. However, key domestic challenges remain in the under performing agricultural sector, where persistent poverty continues to plague some 800 million Indian citizens, and 45 percent of the children go unnourished.

India and Pakistan are working to resolve issues over border tensions and terrorism, which have deterred past efforts to build confidence and stability between the two neighbors. Multilateral challenges also remain, as India’s role in managing the international system increases, and consensus between the US and India on global issues such as non-proliferation, trade, and climate control becomes more necessary.  

Prospects for further relationship building between the US and India include a pivotal civil nuclear initiative, which has “turned our most significant irritant in bilateral relations into an opportunity for cooperation” and an ongoing dialogue of strategic cooperation based around five pillar initiatives: strategic cooperation, energy and climate change, economics, trade and agriculture, and education.

Ambassador Blake also underscored the importance of greater people to people partnerships that will initiate business, entrepreneurial, scientific collaboration between individuals in the US and India; sharing ideas and bringing our two countries to a better understanding of one-another on both political and social levels.

Reported by Kari Anne Scherling, Global Policy Programs