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Improving Defence Cooperation

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December 30, 2016

Why in news?

As part of a defence appropriations bill of over $600 billion, the US Congress passed legislation that designated India as a “major defence partner”.

How well is India-US defence cooperation?

  • Under the newly designated status, India will be treated at par with the US’s closest allies when it comes to the transfer of defence technologies.
  • The defence cooperation entered into next stage in 1995 with the Agreed Minute on Defence Relations.
  • However, after May 1998 following the Indian nuclear tests, all such collaboration effectively ground to a halt.

What are the reasons that hinder India-US defence cooperation?

  • Despite the successful conclusion of this diplomatic minuet, progress on defence cooperation did not materialise.
  • First, India had remained heavily dependent on Russia for its defence supplies.
  • Second, despite the Cold War’s end, some within India’s policymaking community remained reluctant to turn to the US for substantial defence purchases.

How was the approach of Obama’s administration?

  • The Obama administration’s initial approach to India appeared lukewarm. 
  • Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden and the US decision to drawdown its forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s utility dramatically declined.
  • Around the same time, the PRC, which had been boosting its presence in the South China Sea, showed signs of greater assertiveness.
  • Despite past tensions with the US over Modi’s tenure as Gujarat’s chief minister, the Obama administration adopted a pragmatic approach toward the new regime.
  • The P.M proved to be more than willing to reciprocate.

Whether the defence cooperation is transforming?

  • The US Congress’s willingness to designate India as a “major defence partner” represents the culmination of a process that has slowly but surely brought the two states into a mutually supportive defence cooperation relationship.
  • Along the way, it has also been supplemented with important defence deals.
  • India has become not only the largest foreign purchaser of US weaponry but the US has now transplanted Russia as the principal supplier of weaponry to India.
  • Even though some big-ticket joint projects, such as the building of an aircraft carrier, remain in abeyance, there is little question that the Indo-US arms transfer relationship has undergone a fundamental transformation.


Category: Mains| GS – II| Bilateral Relations

Source: The Indian Express

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