Big boost to Indo-US ties: India now at par with NATO allies of the United States

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Published: July 3, 2019 11:01:28 AM

This is an endorsement of the Indo-US ties as envisioned under the July 2005 Rumsfeld-Mukherjee agreement, points out defence expert Commodore Uday Bhaskar (retd).

Experts view it as an indication of growing confidence in India as well as more symbolic as India is a non-NATO ally of the US. (Representational image)Experts view it as an indication of growing confidence in India as well as more symbolic as India is a non-NATO ally of the US. (Representational image)

In an effort to further deepen Indo-US Defense Cooperation, the US Senate has passed a legislative provision which brings India at par with the United States’ other NATO allies.

However, the proposal made under National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) or the US Defense Budget for strengthening strategic and defence relations with India has yet to be passed by the US House of Representatives to become a law.

In the $750 billion US defence budget, which was passed by the Senate last week, had urged the US administration to strengthen and expand the scope of India’s designation as a major defence partner.

Experts view it as an indication of growing confidence in India as well as more symbolic as India is a non-NATO ally of the US. And this move is expected to give India access to high-end technology which NATO allies have access to.

This is an endorsement of the Indo-US ties as envisioned under the July 2005 Rumsfeld-Mukherjee agreement, points out defence expert Commodore Uday Bhaskar (retd).

It is an important endorsement of Indo-US relations by the American legislature and draws attention to the continuity in the ties, which was first envisioned in July 2005 in the Rumsfeld-Mukherjee agreement”.

New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship (NFDR), was signed by the then Defence Ministers Donald Rumsfeld and Pranab Mukherjee and was renewed in June 2015.

Through the years the two countries and their leaders have been working towards enhancing the relationship which is currently more about the sales of the state of the art military hardware. The true spirit behind the NFDR has yet to be realised, he opines.

The US Senate while passing the NDAA last week had urged the US to further strengthen and enhance its major defence partnership with India and had also listed out six specific steps for the Trump administration to take to expand the scope of India’s designation as a Major Defence Partner.

These included more action to implement the major defence partner designation in an effort to facilitate interoperability, information sharing, and appropriate technology transfers. And to also pursue “strategic initiatives to help develop the defence capabilities of India”.

The Senate asked the administration to increase the frequency and scope of exchanges the officers and civilians of both countries which would help in further development and implementation of the major defence partnership.

One of the actions also includes increasing joint naval exercises with India and to also conduct them beyond the Indian and Pacific Ocean. It has suggested the exercises should take place in the Persian Gulf. Besides enhancing the quadrilateral dialogue among the US, India, Japan and Australia, it has recommended a deeper engagement with India in multilateral frameworks.

These proposals related to India were introduced by the Senate India Caucus Co-Chairs, Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner. And according to reports, an amendment to the provisions related to India has been proposed for the House of Representatives by Representative Brad Sherman and others.

In 2018 July, the Trump administration had upgraded India’s status to a trading partner equal to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies.

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