Daily Answer Writing
13 April 2021

Q) What introduces friction into the ties between India and the United States is that Washington is still unable to find for India a position in its global strategy, which would satisfy India’s national self-esteem and ambitions’. Explain with suitable examples.

Asked in UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination, 2019; Paper III(GS 2)

Source: <https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/not-on-the-same-page-at-sea/article34304977.ece>

Approach Answer:


Introduction: In the recent times, India and US have been increasingly coming closer with 2005 10 year Defence Framework Agreement, 2015 Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, and 2018 commencement of  2+2 dialogue  reflecting the ‘Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership’. However there have been various irritants in the relationship including various differences which still persist.


Elucidation of friction between Indo-US Ties:

               1. Difference in world view: It sees itself as the leader of the democratic world, against the socialistic Russia and Communist China. India on the other hand seeks strategic independence not aligning with any one nation or group. Thus it opposes India's induction of S-400 from Russia and supporting Iran by investing its economy, threatening India with CAATSA sanctions.

               2. Nuclear doctrine: It is against Nuclear proliferation and has maintained a stance that India must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT). India invariably thinks that it is piece of document biased towards the P5 members which can solely have nuclear weapons according to it. Further India projects itself as a contender of the Permanent membership of the UN.

               3. Difference in regional view: US engages with Pakistan to further its aims in Afghanistan & India assigns a supplementary role, and thus has provided various platforms like F-22 Raptor, which is not appreciated by India. On the other hand India sees itself as the regional power and a future global power.

               4. Difference in security challenges: India has the primary concern to secure itself in event of a two front war with Pakistan and China, whereas US wants to secure Asia pacific from aggressive China.

               5. Difference in Economic interests: India seeks various concessions in the forums like WTO and projects itself as the champion of the least developed countries. On the other hand US wants countries like India to open up its market.  Thus it opposes India's agricultural subsidies as well as schemes like Merchandise Export from India Scheme(MEIS) in WTO.

               6. Role in Indian Ocean: India projects itself as the net security provider in the Indian ocean whereas the US has since 2016 conducted various 'Freedom of Navigation' operations in the Indian Ocean.


Thus US is unable assign a role for India in its global strategy appropriate to Indian ambitions.


However there are increasing resemblances in interests:

               1. Terrorism and Pakistan: Both India and US have great concerns about the rise of terrorism in the region and want Pakistan to be more accountable.

               2. View on Afghanistan: India has recently invited India to the Afghan Peace Process. It recognizes Indian efforts in the country and the region.

               3. Rule based world order: Both nations want that countries like China follow a rule based order.

               4. Interests in the Asia-Pacific region: India has always wanted to include Indian ocean in the Asia-Pacific strategy. Recently there have been a convergence in the Quad virtual summit on the 'Indo-Pacific region'.

               5. Democratic world Order: The observers in both nations cherish the partnership between the world's largest and the world's oldest democracy.


Conclusion: The change in the regime in the United states have led to a greater harmony in the relations between US and India. In the Quad summit, the two countries have found new convergences. We have delineated our focus area in the Indo-Pacific region. Further, the nature of alliance have been recognized being based on cooperation in climate change, emerging technologies, Vaccination etc. which not being military in nature would conserve India's strategic independence.

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