Ambassador Arun K. Singh's Speech at the CEIP-CII Conference on "the Future of India-U.S. Partnership, Ten Years after the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative"
Ambassador Arun K. Singh's Speech at the CEIP-CII Conference on "the Future of India-U.S. Partnership, Ten Years after the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative" (13 July 2015)
I thank the organizers --- the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Confederation of Indian Industries --- for hosting this conference on the tenth anniversary of the launch of India-U.S. civil nuclear cooperation initiative.
The very fact that we are observing this landmark, that there is continuing interest, that there is such high level participation, is itself a reflection of something transformational having happened, of significant developments over this period, and anticipation of more to come.
The essential transformation lay in moving away, step by step, from technology denial efforts; towards seeing India as a positive partner in regional and global issues; and in energetically and creatively unlocking further the potential in the economic, security and people to people dimensions of the relationship.
Earlier, denial efforts had made it challenging for India's scientific community to engage in any meaningful way with their international counterparts in high technology. Of course, we made significant progress through indigenous effort, as our heralded achievements in space and nuclear energy demonstrated.
This hiatus in cooperation was perhaps also a reflection of a lack of appreciation externally for India's dire need for energy, for security, its position on nuclear disarmament, and its impeccable record on non-proliferation: passions of the Cold War created fogs of their own.
Since then and in the new phase of Asia's resurgence, and particularly since the beginning of the new millennium, the India-U.S. pendulum has swung --- we hope irreversibly --- to one of greater strategic convergence and shared objectives.
For India, the stakes of partnership with the world's largest economy went up significantly as we embraced globalization. In turn, India's robust and sustained economic growth, in a framework of a democratic polity, market economy and pluralistic society encouraged voices in the U.S. arguing for more investment and attention.
The growing salience of common non-traditional challenges like terrorism and maritime security encouraged habits of cooperation.
India's independent ability to bring its voice and influence to bear responsibly on issues, both regional and global; the achievements of Indians in science, technology and arts; and the visible face of the growing Indian American community in the U.S. underscored India's potential as a strategic partner, reinforcing the values of industry, quest for freedoms and excellence and respect for rule of law, that the U.S. has declared support for.
This provided the backdrop to the agreement of July 2005. This, in turn, reversed the nuclear narrative from one of apprehension to cooperation.
Indeed, in the last ten years, nuclear and export control cooperation has been one of our robust and productive bilateral engagements.
In 2008, India and the U.S. concluded their bilateral agreement for civil nuclear energy cooperation, and the U.S. had led the process for an India-specific exception from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group. In 2010, the U.S. agreed to support India's full membership in the four major multilateral export control regimes. U.S. also realigned India in its export control regulations, reinforcing its recognition of India's record in non-proliferation.
India, on its part, announced its adherence to the guidelines of the export control regimes, completed the implementation of its IAEA separation plan, signed and ratified an additional protocol with the IAEA, passed a domestic legislation on civil nuclear liability, and signed the IAEA Convention on Supplementary Compensation.
The two countries harmonized their respective laws and regulations to implement practical civil nuclear energy cooperation. Two sites in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh were earmarked for U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors. The last two policy issues --- arising from concerns expressed by U.S. companies over India's nuclear liability law, and absence of an Administrative Arrangement to implement the bilateral 123 Agreement - were both resolved satisfactorily earlier this year. Now two U.S. companies are engaged in commercial and technical discussions with the Indian operator.
There is now also robust engagement between our nuclear energy establishments. They are collaborating in high-energy physics and accelerator research. Our collaboration under the aegis of the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership has also been progressing well.
In the last half-decade, our countries have boasted US$10 billion worth of defence trade. This might not have been possible without the unlocking role of the nuclear deal, and the consequent changes in U.S. export control vis-a-vis India. We are now exploring co-production and co-development in defence technologies. Our broader scientific communities are engaged in path-breaking joint research, from health to outer space.
The nuclear initiative perhaps also captured the coming of age in the politics of India-U.S. relations. The dynamics in the Indian Parliament and the U.S. Congress now reflected bipartisan consensus for stronger bilateral relations between the two democracies. The energetic welcome for the Indian Prime Minister at the Madison Square Garden, in September last year, and in the presence of U.S. officials, Senators and Congressmen highlighted the achievement and potential of the people to people dimension, potentially a firm base for new opportunity and deeper understanding.
Let me therefore mention some of the other areas where India and the U.S. have worked together in the past decade and where our new terms of engagement are clearly manifest.
There have been Presidential visits from the U.S. to India in each of the last three Presidencies, not something we could claim earlier. President Obama just created history, in a sense, by being the first U.S. President to visit India twice in his tenure, and to be the first U.S. guest of honour on our Republic Day. From 'a strong global partnership' in 2005, India and the U.S. have travelled far in the last decade to announce the first-ever vision statement in September 2014, and a shared strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region four months later. The U.S. has made political commitment at the highest level for a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member, and for India's membership of APEC.
Today, it is natural for India and the U.S. to consult regularly on all major policy issues of the day --- be it security of the global commons, reform of the international economic and financial architecture or creation of an open, balanced and inclusive architecture in Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. In the past few years, our global partnership has evolved into bilateral-plus, as we engage with Japan in trilateral format to promote regional connectivity, HADR capacities and maritime security. Our countries have taken their global partnership to third countries where our expertise and resources are valued, including in e-governance, food security, and capacity-building in election management, in several African countries, and women empowerment projects and agriculture capacity-building in Afghanistan.
We have created in the last ten years an elaborate political-level dialogue architecture, covering strategy, trade, energy, health, science, education, among others. At the official level, India and the U.S. are engaged in consultations in nearly 50 dialogue forums, from East Asia to Africa, from disarmament to peacekeeping, from women empowerment to defence policy.
Defence, indeed, is one of the areas where the transformation in the last decade has been evident. In 2005, our countries concluded their first Defence Cooperation Framework, and it was upgraded and renewed last month. We have added the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative to foster collaboration in transformative defence technology, co-production and co-development. Last year, we began a new and futuristic knowledge partnership in defence studies.
Our cooperation in counter-terrorism, intelligence-sharing and homeland security has made great strides in the last decade, arising from our common resolve against terrorism. It was further strengthened after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, that counted U.S. citizens among the victims of terrorist plots conceived and masterminded from across our borders. Dismantling safe havens, and disrupting financial and tactical support for terrorist and criminal networks, have been high on our common agenda. In the last five years, the bilateral Counter Terrorism Initiative and Homeland Security Dialogue have sought to further deepen operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology transfers and capacity building, besides collaboration in combating terrorist financing. We have launched practical homeland security cooperation to enhance exchanges on megacity policing, securing the global supply chain and anti-counterfeiting efforts. We have engaged each other to overcome the threat of improvised explosive devices with information and technology. Cooperation for cyber security is yet another area of high importance and potential.
Our engagement in the economic and financial sectors has also attained much more heft. Last year, in order to raise investment by institutional investors and corporate entities, we established an India-U.S. Investment Initiative, as well as an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform. The U.S. industry will be the lead partner in developing three smart cities in Ajmer, Vishakhapatnam and Allahabad. USAID will serve as knowledge partner to support the Indian Prime Minister's 500 Cities National Urban Development Mission and Clean India Campaign.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has emerged as India's largest trading partner in goods and services, and our leaders have set their target on increasing the trade volume by five times in the years ahead. India is also emerging as one of the fast growing sources of FDI into the U.S. In fact, tomorrow itself, representatives of Indian business, invested in the U.S. will be coming together to share their work and plans with U.S. representatives on Capitol Hill. Mechanisms like the India-U.S. CEOs Forum and Commercial Dialogue have been worked to identify new directions in our economic interactions.
In 2005, we also initiated an Energy Dialogue covering five sectors of oil and gas, renewable energy, coal, energy efficiency and nuclear energy. Each of these have seen several practical outcomes. The India-U.S. PACE programme --- Partnership to Advance Clean Energy ---- has created avenues for joint research and deployment of clean energy resources, such as solar, advanced biofuels, shale gas, and smart grids. The programme was strengthened and expanded last year to encompass new priority initiatives of our government: a new Energy Smart Cities Partnership to promote efficient urban energy infrastructure; a new program to scale-up renewable energy integration into India's power grid; cooperation to support India's efforts to upgrade its alternative energy institutes and to develop new innovation centers; and formation of a new Clean Energy Finance Forum to promote investment and trade in clean energy projects.
Climate change has also emerged as a subject of robust bilateral engagement, steered through the Climate Change Working Group, and supplemented by the India-U.S. Task Force on hydrofluorocarbons. Last year, a new U.S.-India Partnership for Climate Resilience, a new program of work on air quality and a new U.S.-India Climate Fellowship Program were launched.
In 2005, we concluded a framework cooperation agreement in S&T, which created a Bilateral Commission and an Endowment Fund. Joint Centres on Clean Energy Research and Development have brought best institutions in the two countries together. Collaboration in monsoon forecasting has brought tangible benefits to Indian farmers. In space sector, India's Mars and Moon Missions have benefitted from collaboration with the U.S. The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar mission is conceived as a dual frequency radar imaging satellite for Earth Sciences, to be launched in 2021.
A Regional Global Disease Detection Centre has been set up in Delhi based on U.S. experience and with U.S. partnership. We have successfully collaborated for a locally produced vaccine against rotavirus, which will save the lives of an estimated 80,000 children each year in India alone. We are working for a new phase of the India-U.S. Vaccine Action Programme. Today, training of health workers, promoting the availability, efficacy and quality of therapeutics and partnership in cancer research are some of the priority areas of our engagement in the health sector.
Indian students now constitute among the largest overseas student groups in U.S. universities, contributing US$ 3 billion through tuition fees, and more to the local economy, in addition to enriching intellectual and social life in campuses. In 2009, our leaders launched a 21st Century Knowledge Initiative to deepen university linkages, including greater emphasis on community colleges. Grants in priority fields of science, technology and agriculture have been significantly expanded. The government has now offered to have U.S. institutions partner with a new Indian Institute of Technology at Gandhinagar. Under India's proposal to establish the Global Initiative of Academic Networks or GIAN, India would invite and host up to 1,000 American academics each year to teach in centrally-recognized Indian Universities.
Clearly, our relationship with the U.S. has transformed rapidly in the last ten years to become a full-spectrum relationship, covering virtually all fields of human endeavour. It is now embedded in the larger vision of a global strategic partnership, that has stood the test of a decade of transitions, turbulence and challenges in an interdependent world. The level of political comfort in doing things together is unprecedented. On the ground, habits of cooperation have formed among our departments and institutions. There is greater awareness of each other among our people.
I believe that no relationship between India and another country can today match the range, depth, quality and intensity of the India-U.S. partnership.
Of course, when there is such intensified engagement, much of it recent, there will be issues, challenges, disagreements and, on occasion, perhaps disappointments.
The experience of the past ten years has taught us that deeper dialogue and effort at empathetic understanding, is the best way to overcome such challenges. Autonomy of decision-making and differences, we believe, are not inconsistent with our strategic partnership.
Going forward, I see the U.S. continuing to play a role in India's transformation, and see India and the U.S. joining hands to make the world a better place for our two nations and the rest of the world. As the Indian Prime Minister, has said, "we should not confine ourselves to thinking what India and the U.S. can do for each other, but what we can do together for the world." We should take that as our common challenge for the future, as we step into the second decade of the historic and transformative civil nuclear cooperation initiative.
On a personal note, I had, by coincidence joined my earlier assignment at the Embassy in Washington on 9 October, 2008, a day before the nuclear agreement was signed. I was witness to the sense of achievement among those who had worked tirelessly for it, overcoming obstacles. I was also witness subsequently to the deepening of the partnership, of course with some inevitable ups and downs, and challenges. Coming back to this city, in a new incarnation, at a clearly high phase in the partnership, I am witness once again to a palpable sense of potential for the future.