Ahead of the expected State visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US, the two countries join hands on critical technology including Space , Quantum, and Semiconductors. This was the outcome of the inaugural meeting of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan in Washington DC on Tuesday.
Both India and the US have elevated their strategic partnership with the launch of the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology or iCET.
According to a Fact sheet issued by White House: “We are committed to fostering an open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem, based on mutual trust and confidence, that will reinforce our democratic values and democratic institutions.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Joe Biden had announced the decision to elevate and expand the Strategic Technology Partnership as well as Defence Industrial Cooperation in 2022 on the sidelines of the QUAD Leaders summit in Tokyo.
The White House Fact sheet states that the two countries on Tuesday are committed to fostering a secure technology system which is open and accessible and is based on mutual trust and confidence. And the two sides affirmed that the ways in which technology is developed, designed, governed and used should be shaped by the shared democratic values and respect for universal human rights.
During the inaugural meeting both Doval and Sullivan were joined by high level officials from both countries.
Who was present?
NSA led the Indian delegation which included the Indian Ambassador to the US, Ajay Kumar Sood the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, S Somanath Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Secretary of the Department of Telecommunications, Dr Satheesh Reddy, Scientific Advisor to the Defense Minister, Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organization.
Also present during the meeting were senior officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the National Security Council Secretariat.
The US delegation had senior officials from the Department of State, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, and National Security Council and also the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), director of the National Science Foundation, and executive secretary of the National Space Council.
Outcome of the meeting
The two sides discussed ways to deepen connectivity across innovation ecosystems, opportunities for co-development and co-production, greater cooperation in critical and emerging technologies. And in key sectors the two sides noted the value of establishing “innovation bridges”. According to the White House for future cooperation they identified rare earth processing technology, advanced materials and bio-technology.
The fact sheet states that the idea is to take the existing efforts to a different level from the leaders’ level directly to the National Security Advisors as this will help to energise respective establishments and bureaucracies.
This dialogue will now lead to an intensified pace of high-level engagements along the way.
To further expand collaboration in a range of areas including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Technologies and Advanced Wireless Technologies the two announced a new invitation arrangement for a partnership between the National Science Foundation and the Indian science agencies.
For greater collaboration between consortium of leading researchers and Quantum industry players both have agreed to the establishment of the joint Indo-US Quantum Coordination mechanisms. The intention is to promote collaboration on high performance computing, and this means working with the US Congress to lower barriers of exports to India.
iCET on Defence
New bilateral defence Industrial Cooperation roadmap announced. This is expected to speed up defence technology cooperation in the areas of joint development and production, especially related to jet engines and other technologies.
It has been reported earlier that General Electric is likely to jointly produce engines that will power the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ for the Indian Air Force. GE-404 engines are powering the existing Tejas Mk1 and the GE -414 will power Tejas Mk2. The US based company has already expanded its presence in India and has a strong supply chain.
The Fact Sheet states that the Biden administration has received an application from General Electric which is being reviewed to jointly produce jet engines that can power jet aircraft operating conditions in India.
In the defence sector there are plans to launch a new innovation bridge to connect the two countries.
The US has welcomed the establishment of the Indian National Semiconductor Commission. According to a senior official this is seen as a shared interest in diversifying semiconductor supply chains globally. And also enhancing the flow of talent between India and the US in the backdrop of the Chips Bill of the US which is focused on semiconductor manufacturing and research and development.
A new task force has been organized by the US Semiconductor Industry Association and this is in partnership with the India Electronic Semiconductor Association. This has been set up to identify opportunities for industry to cooperate and also develop a readiness assessment.
This task force is expected to make recommendations to the US Department of Commerce which runs the US CHIPS programme and to India’s semiconductor mission. And will also report to the US FDA commercial dialogue on space.
The NASA administrator is scheduled to travel to India later this year.
The two countries are set to deepen cooperation in space especially on human spaceflight. This will include advanced training for Indian astronauts at NASA Johnson Space Center. And the two sides are looking to identify opportunities in commercial space sectors wherein both countries can collaborate. Especially in NASA’s Commercial lunar payload services project.