India and the United States: Deal To Be Done

The world’s most populous democracy is about to vote. The setting is remarkable: the economy is strong and continued growth may help India’s longer term aim of becoming Asia’s dominant power and a global player. Peace moves with Pakistan look generally positive and India’s cricketers have played there for the first time since 1989. All this makes a recent American offer of a new strategic relationship much more interesting. But to reap the rewards Delhi must comply with strict export controls on sensitive military items.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Elizabeth Mills

Asia Research Analyst, World Markets Research Centre, London

It could almost have slipped by unnoticed, but in mid-January on the sidelines of a summit of the Americas, President George Bush made one of the most significant pronouncements on the future of US-Indian relations in years. Packaged as a proposal of ‘reciprocal measures’ the new strategy offered a pact: help with India’s civilian space programme in exchange for implementing restrictions aimed at curbing nuclear proliferation. According to Bush the move heralded a new US-India strategic partnership, but in a climate of increasing military aid and spending, how substantial the actual steps will be is highly questionable.

Leniency

The post-September 11 2001 environment has seen Washington pressing for normal relations between India and Pakistan. At the same time its wider regional policies have exacerbated missile proliferation, which in turn has the potential to create greater instability.

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