The US must reassure India that it will continue to remain the “security guarantor” of the Asian space as there is a growing anxiety in India that Washington might reach a condominium with Beijing, a top American expert has said. “They (Indians) are concerned that the US will not make the investments required to protect its preeminence in Asia. If that concern grows roots, then their willingness to bet on the US relationship diminishes. They’re also concerned that the US for tactical reasons, might reach a condominium with the Chinese,” Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a top American think-tank, told lawmakers.
“And if that happens, then India will find itself in a sense losing out,” he said. “So, the immediate challenge that we have with India is to reassure it that the US will continue to remain the security guarantor of the Asian space writ large. And by that, I include both the Indian oceans and the Asia-Pacific,” Tellis said in response to a question during a hearing on Asia Pacific region held by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Indians, he said, see the strategic challenges immediately as arising from China. “So whatever we can do to help them cope with those emerging strategic challenges, are the things that advance our common interests,” he said, adding that the Indian Ocean area becomes an immediate point of focus.
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Tellis said that the US must pursue the defence technology initiative with India because it really meets an important need. “I hope the new administration doubles down on support,” he said. Tellis argued that Indians are actually very eager to work for the United States and democracy promotion.
“…India has in the past been quite willing to work with us in during the Bush administration. They worked with us in the global initiative of democracy. It would be very unfortunate if we lost our appetite for democracy promotion at this point,” he said. “When you have a Prime Minister in India who is actually quite eager to work with us on democracy promotion collaboratively around the world,” Tellis said.
Senator Tim Kaine stressed the need to deepen the relationship between the largest and oldest democracies of the world. “We’re the oldest democracy in the world, India is the largest democracy in the world. Both of our nations have some motive to demonstrate the strength of democracies. There doesn’t seem to be an institution in the world now that’s effectively promoting the strength of the democratic model,” he said.