US and India: Looking Forward

Excerpt: Amb. Shankar on US-India cooperation on security and counter-terrorism measures in the Asia-Pacific region. (1 min., 42 sec.)

NEW YORK, February 19, 2010 - The US and India have "redefined the paradigm" of their relationship and have "turned the constraints of the past into opportunities for the future," according to Ambassador Meera Shankar, ambassador of India to the US, during a speech at the Asia Society.

This US-India relationship, which President Obama considers “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century” has something both unique and powerful in the continued alignment of interests, said Shankar.  As US-India relations grow stronger, the two countries' interests will converge in a number of places, including global security and economics of trade.

Economically, the US and India will continue to develop a complex and multilayered linkage but Shankar put particular emphasis on the transfer of technologies: “We must address the question of technology transfer, both defense and dual use, in a manner that reflects the strategic partnership in the same way that we addressed the challenge of civil nuclear energy cooperation," she said. "That will open the door to boundless possibilities.”  According to Shankar, partnerships between Indian and American firms have also helped shape the knowledge economy.

In terms of global security, India and the US are both involved in building and maintaining political stability of the region, specifically in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Shankar stressed India's commitment to reconciliation and stabilization in Afghanistan. “We would like this process to be Afghan-led… it should be within the contours of the constitution, it should not be on the basis of accommodations which change the structure of Afghan governance," she said. Shankar also discussed that advances in the issue of women’s rights, and emphasized the need to preserve these gains. As for India-Pakistan relations, Shankar pointed out positive signs. After a hiatus brought about by the Mumbai attacks in 2008, the peace talks are scheduled to resume in late February.

it is neccessary for India to continue social development, primarily in education, agriculture and healthcare but according to Shankar, the country is currently undergoing the largest advancement in its education system since independence. "We can turn education into an area of strong and mutually beneficial cooperation," said Shankar, who also sees benefits from educational exchange with the US, both through scholars coming to India from the US and vice versa, as well as India students learning at US institutions.

India is also facing a need to revolutionize its agricultural production, but would need to look to the US for guidance, said Shankar. The transfer of technology addressed earlier becomes most critical in the field of health care, when India is facing some of the most critical health care challenges of the modern era, such as HIV/AIDS. In these areas the relationship between India and the US can be strengthened by mutual assistance, continual growth and communication.

Reported by Suzanna Finley