As the world increasingly acknowledges India's rising power
status, India is adapting its foreign policy to meet the
international challenges of the 21st century and to increase its
global influence and status. For many years, India took pride in
its role as leader of the Non-Aligned Movement and viewed itself as
the primary defender of the rights of the less developed
countries. In the past few years, New Delhi has expanded its
strategic vision, most noticeably in Asia, and has broadened the
definition of its security interests.
While India has focused special attention on cultivating
ties to the United States since 2000, the overall thrust of its
foreign policy has been to seek geopolitical partnerships in
multiple directions to serve its national interests. It has pursued
special relationships with the U.S., Russia, China, and key
In June 2006, Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee (the
current foreign minister) described India's foreign policy:
"Premised on the twin policies of no extra-territorial ambition and
no export of ideology, India seeks the peaceful resolution of
all disputes." He went on to say that "[s]imultaneous
improvement in ties with the U.S., EU, and Russia and Southeast
Asia, Japan, Korea, and China demonstrates that for the first time
in its diplomatic history, India is forging significant strategic
ties with both West and EastAsia."
Broadening Indian engagement across the globe, especially in
Asia, is in the U.S. interest and should be further encouraged.
Washington's and New Delhi's strategic perceptions are increasingly
converging, and there is tremendous opportunity to cooperate and
coordinate in this dynamic region. Because India is a fellow
democracy without hegemonic interests and with a propensity to seek
peaceful resolution of conflicts, its increased economic and
political involvement in Asia will help to further overall U.S.
goals in the region. India's involvement in Asia will help both to
ensure that one country does not dominate the area and to
encourage stability in a region that will take center stage in the
The Expanding U.S.-India
The extent to which India will associate itself with U.S. power
and global policies is still a subject of debate within the Indian
strategic community. A majority within India's policy elites
envision India becoming a major pole in a multipolar world. They are
skeptical of perceived American unilateralism and therefore believe
that India must maintain its strategic autonomy through an extended
strategic neighborhood, including East and Southeast Asia and, to
some extent, the Middle East. The leftist parties on which the
current Congress-led government relies to stay in power are
particularly skeptical of close U.S.-India ties and believe that
India should prioritize relationships with Third World countries,
in part to create solidarity against perceived U.S.
At the same time, an emerging generation of Indian foreign
policy thinkers view a strong relationship with the U.S. as
essential for India to achieve major power status and want to
develop a new framework for cooperation with the U.S. The U.S. should
support the new generation of Indian foreign policy thinkers by
nodding to India's multidirectional diplomacy; but it should also
make clear that Washington views the trilateral
China-India-Russia arrangement as a potential irritant to
relations. Such a tripartite axis could undermine U.S. objectives
in Asia to support democracy, free trade, economic prosperity,
and nuclear nonproliferation, given China's and Russia's uneven
records on promoting these key principles in their foreign
India's rapidly growing energy requirements have become one of
the primary drivers of its foreign policy in Asia. India is
the world's 11th largest energy producer and sixth largest energy
consumer, importing more than 65 percent of its oil needs. India's efforts
to fulfill its energy needs-which are growing at about 4 percent
annually-and to diversify energy suppliers will likely lead to
some divergences between the U.S. and India over policies in
Asia. In the Middle East, for example, India is trying to balance
its need for Iranian natural gas and oil with pressure from the
U.S. to adopt stronger policies toward Tehran that will
discourage its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Civilian Nuclear Cooperation. The recent passage of
U.S. legislation allowing civilian nuclear cooperation with India
represents a significant milestone for the relationship. Both
the Bush Administration and the government of Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh expended a tremendous amount of political capital to
overcome skepticism from their nuclear establishments, which
continue to harbor distrust toward each other. Expectations are
high in Washington that the civil nuclear agreement-which must
still pass several key hurdles, such as the completion of a
bilateral agreement on the terms for civil nuclear trade-will
deepen military cooperation, trade links, and geopolitical
engagement with New Delhi.
One of the Bush Administration's key rationales for extending
civil nuclear cooperation to India was that bringing New Delhi into
the nonproliferation mainstream would encourage it to play a more
active role in promoting and participating in international
efforts to limit nuclear proliferation. New Delhi is increasingly
supportive of Washington's efforts to halt proliferation, including
the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Container
Security Initiative (CSI). The PSI was established by 11 countries and
now has over 65 cooperating countries that have agreed to follow
PSI guidelines to interdict cargo related to weapons of mass
destruction. The CSI is an effort to upgrade safeguards to
improve security and verification of international cargo.
New Delhi has also been increasingly cooperative in
strengthening multilateral export control regimes. It is improving
its own domestic export control legislation and harmonizing
its nuclear and missile control lists with the lists of the Nuclear
Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Security Cooperation. In June 2005, India and the U.S.
signed a 10-year defense framework agreement that calls for
expanded joint military exercises, increased defense-related trade,
and establishing a defense and procurement production group. India
has long relied on Russia for arms supplies, but to modernize its
military, it is increasingly looking to purchase advanced weapons
systems from the United States. In January, the Pentagon
transferred the USS Trenton amphibious transport ship to New
Delhi. Indian naval officials said that the transfer of the ship
has opened a new era in Indo-U.S. naval cooperation. The U.S. and
India have conducted over 20 military exercises since 2002,
demonstrating how far the military partnership has progressed
in a relatively short period.
The U.S. views India as a close partner in enhancing security in
the Indian Ocean and has prioritized the improvement of maritime
cooperation. In January 2002, the two countries signed the
Generalized Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA),
which guarantees the protection of classified information and
technology shared between them and facilitates cooperation in
anti-piracy, drug interdiction, search and rescue, and joint
Missile Defense. India was among the first countries
to support U.S. moves away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty and toward the National Missile Defense program, which was
unveiled by the Bush Administration in May 2001. The U.S. and India
have engaged on the issue of missile defense since it became the
fourth plank of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership in
early 2004. India has sought access to the Israeli Arrow
anti-missile technology, although Washington has not authorized
transfer of this sensitive technology. (The presence of U.S.
technology in the Arrow system allows the U.S. to veto any
technology transfer to third countries.) The U.S. also reportedly
gave India a classified briefing on the Patriot Advanced Capability
(PAC-3) theater missile defense system in September 2005.
Pakistani reaction to potential U.S.-India cooperation on
missile defense has been varied. The Pakistanis have used the
occasion to request their own missile defense cooperation from the
U.S. At the same time, Pakistani defense experts have
downplayed a potential Indian program, arguing that it would
not be economically feasible for New Delhi to develop an effective
missile defense system.
While the Indian and American worldviews are increasingly
intersecting, New Delhi and Washington will occasionally
disagree on how to advance shared objectives regarding
counterterrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, global trade, and
development policies. As C. Raja Mohan and Parag Khanna noted
early in 2006 in Policy Review, "Building a strategic
partnership with India will test America's ability to engage an
independent democracy that has had no record of security or
economic dependence on the United States."
The most recent manifestation of this challenge is the Indian
public reaction to the recently passed civil nuclear legislation.
Some of the legislation's wording, particularly regarding India's
relations with Iran, has rankled Indians and strengthened the
leftist parties' concern that the civil nuclear deal will constrain
Indian foreign policy options. From U.S. lawmakers' perspective,
countering the Iranian nuclear threat is a top priority on which
they expect Indian support.
Pakistan. Perhaps the most persistent challenge to
cementing U.S.-India relations has been the U.S. relationship with
New Delhi believes that Washington tilted toward Islamabad in the
1970s-1980s and is concerned about new U.S. willingness to transfer
military hardware to Pakistan, including F-16 fighter
U.S. and Indian views of the fundamental threat posed by
terrorist groups based in Pakistan began to converge following the
9/11 terrorist attacks. However, there continue to be
differences between New Delhi and Washington over the extent to
which Islamabad should be expected to control these groups. New
Delhi rightly believes that Washington avoids pressing Pakistan
sufficiently on domestic violent extremists because it fears that
doing so could jeopardize cooperation from Islamabad against
A number of recent reports revealing links between al-Qaeda
terrorists and groups based in Pakistan could lead Washington to
press Pakistan to crack down more forcefully on terrorist groups
based on its territory. Such an approach from Washington could help
to pave the way for more substantive counterterrorism
cooperation between Washington and New Delhi. At the very least,
the U.S. and India could mutually benefit through increased
cooperation in research, development, and production of homeland
Trade. The two countries also will face friction on the
trade front. The current Congress-led government came to power
in large part because of the frustration of Indian farmers, who
make up 60 percent of India's labor force and are becoming
increasingly resentful that they are not benefiting from
globalization. In fact, India's plans to implement several hundred
special economic zones were recently set back because of the
farmers' objections. In May 2006, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar
announced that between 1998 and 2003, more than 100,000 farmers had
committed suicide due to overwhelming debt burdens.
This is likely contributing to India's lackluster performance in
promoting the World Trade Organization development agenda. The
2007 Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Heritage
Foundation and The Wall Street Journal,rates India's level
of economic freedom in trade at about 50 percentbecause of
India's high average tariff rate and serious non-tariff barriers,
including restrictive licensing requirements, export subsidies,
import taxes, and problematic enforcement of intellectual property
Looking East with a Clear Vision
India established a "Look East" policy in the early 1990s
following its adoption of economic reforms and the end of the Cold
War, but this policy has gained steam only in the past five years.
India's role in East and Southeast Asia is becoming more
pronounced as it builds strengthened relations and trade links
with China, seeks closer economic and political ties with Southeast
Asian nations, and places special emphasis on building strategic
ties with Japan.
China. After decades of frosty relations, India
and China are in the midst of a rapprochement based on both
countries' desire to have peaceful borders and to avoid hostile
relations that would limit either country's foreign policy options.
China and India have been strategic adversaries since the
Sino-Indian border war of 1962, which cemented India's alignment
with the Soviet Union and China's strategic partnership with
Pakistan. More recently, India has become interested in
establishing cordial ties with its increasingly powerful
neighbor, but it remains wary of China's intentions in South Asia
and its slow pace in resolving China-India border disputes.
Increasing U.S. attention to India over the past five
years-especially Washington's decision to extend civil nuclear
cooperation to New Delhi- appears to have surprised Chinese
policymakers and caused them to reassess Chinese policies toward
India. Chinese officials have developed a more serious policy
toward India and now acknowledge that India is becoming a
major Asian power.
The countries' efforts to settle their border disputes have
been slow. India's National Security Adviser and China's
Vice-Foreign Minister have held talks since June 2003. The Chinese
Foreign Ministry stopped listing Sikkim as an independent country
on its Web site in 2003, implicitly recognizing it as part of
India, but China has been unwilling to move toward a final
settlement of the borders.
The diplomatic dynamics that preceded President Hu Jintao's
visit to India in November 2006 were a reminder that New Delhi and
Beijing face serious obstacles to establishing a genuine
partnership. Days before Hu's arrival in New Delhi, the
Chinese ambassador to India proclaimed the Chinese
government's position that the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is
Chinese territory. Indian officials downplayed the remarks,
but commentators noted that the hard-line comments threatened to
cast a pall over the visit.
One major impediment to closer India-China ties is Beijing's
historically close security relationship with Islamabad. China
transferred equipment and technology to Pakistan's nuclear weapons
and ballistic missile programs in the 1980s and 1990s, enhancing
Pakistan's strength in the South Asian strategic balance. In 1998,
India-China relations were set back when the Indian government
officially cited the Chinese threat as a rationale for its
nuclear tests. The tide of suspicion began to turn, however, after
the Chinese adopted a position favorable to India on the
Indo-Pakistani Kargil conflict in 1999, spurring the current
New Delhi is seeking Chinese support in the Nuclear Suppliers
Group, which must develop a consensus on extending civilian nuclear
cooperation to India before the agreement can take effect. So
far, Beijing has remained neutral on civil nuclear cooperation with
India, stating that it wants to ensure that such cooperation will
not undermine the nonproliferation regime.
China hopes that increased trade and investment ties with India
will counter strategic U.S.-India cooperation, which Beijing
perceives as an attempt to contain Chinese influence. In just four
years, China and India have quadrupled the volume of their annual
bilateral trade to almost $20 billion. China is expected to replace
the U.S. as India's top trade partner in another three years.
During President Hu's visit in November, the two countries
pledged to double trade to $40 billion by 2010.
Energy has been a source of cooperation and competition between
China and India in recent years. They are two of the world's
fastest-growing energy consumers, with China importing about 40
percent of its energy needs and India importing 70 percent. China
has consistently outbid India in the competition for energy
sources, and these bidding wars have inflated prices for energy
assets, prompting them to agree to joint bidding in third
Their energy competition is also reflected in their assertions
of naval power. As India reaches into the Malacca Straits, Beijing
is creating a "string of pearls" surrounding India by developing
strategic port facilities in Sittwe, Burma; Chittagong,
Bangladesh; and Gwadar, Pakistan to protect sea lanes and ensure
uninterrupted energy supplies. India is wary of China's efforts to
engage its South Asian neighbors in military and economic matters.
Some Indian analysts believe that China is pursuing a two-pronged
strategy of lulling India into complacency with greater
economic interaction while taking steps to encircle India and
undermine its security.
China's concern that the deepening U.S.-India relationship is
aimed at containing China's power is driving it to embrace the idea
of a China-India- Russia trilateral axis supporting "multipolarity"
(i.e., countering U.S. "hegemony"). Both China and India were
initially cool to the idea of China-India-Russia trilateral
cooperation when Russian Prime Minister Primakov began pushing the
idea in the late 1990s. However, as Indian strategists see the
economic balance of power shifting to Asia, they have
increased their support for China-India-Russia cooperation. Following
the July 2006 meeting of Indian Prime Minister Singh and the
Russian and Chinese presidents, Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam
Saran (currently Indian envoy to the civil nuclear
negotiations) said that all three countries had a strong
interest in the emergence of a multipolar world and the
promotion of multilateralism.
Furthermore, India last week hosted a trilateral meeting of the
foreign ministers, marking the first time that it has hosted such a
high-level China- India-Russia meeting. This meeting will be
welcomed by Indian leftists, who have expressed wariness over
India's increasingly cozy relations with the United States. In the
February 14 joint communiqué, the ministers said that
"trilateral cooperation was not directed against the interests of
any other country."
U.S. policymakers should nevertheless caution India that such a
tripartite axis has the potential to undermine the shared U.S. and
Indian objectives of supporting democracy, free trade, economic
prosperity, and nuclear nonproliferation in Asia, given
China's and Russia's uneven records with respect to promoting these
key principles in their foreign relations. The trilateral axis
idea could also raise suspicions among the Southeast Asian
states about New Delhi's ultimate objectives in the region.
Japan. Forging closer relations with Japan is a
key plank of India's campaign to broaden its foreign policy
options. Tokyo's strong condemnation of India's 1998 nuclear tests
and temporary halt of overseas development assistance to India
because of the tests were a setback to relations.
Nine years later, however, India is the largest recipient of
development loans from Japan, and the two countries are seeking to
create a geopolitical partnership. Both sides share an interest in
highlighting their democratic forms of government, securing
energy resources by protecting sea lanes, and fighting
international terrorism. India has reorganized its naval
command to create an Andaman and Nicobar Island command at Port
Blair to exert influence over the Indian Ocean sea lanes, combat
piracy, and guarantee the smooth entry of ships into the Malacca
Approximately 60 percent of China's oil supply and 80 percent of
Japan's oil supply passes through the Straits of Malacca.
Although many Indian and Japanese security experts have long
advocated development of a strategic relationship, Japan-India
ties are taking time to bear fruit. Growth in India's economic
relationships has been slower with Japan than it has been with
China. Overall trade is only about $4.35 billion compared to
$20 billion with China.
India has reportedly been receptive to Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe's recent proposal for a four-sided strategic dialogue among
Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S. The joint India-Japan
statement on December 15, 2006, indirectly references such a
dialogue: "The two leaders share the view on the usefulness of
having dialogue among Japan, India and other like-minded countries
in the Asia-Pacific region on themes of mutual interest." In a recent
article on Japan-India relations, Indian foreign policy
analyst Brahma Chellaney noted that a close strategic relationship
with Japan fits India's vision of a "dynamic, multi-polar Asia."
During Prime Minister Singh's visit to Japan in December, the
Indian and Japanese leaders agreed to start talks on a bilateral
free trade agreement within two years and to increase cooperation
between their navies and coast guards. Another key Indian goal was
to secure Japanese support for lifting international
restrictions on civil nuclear trade with India. Japan is part of
the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, which must develop a
consensus approving civil nuclear transfers to India.
Southeast Asia. Another important part of India's
effort to expand its influence in Asia is building political and
economic ties with the states of Southeast Asia. India's
involvement in Southeast Asia can help to check the inroads that
China is making in the region. Most countries in the region that
are wary of China do not have the same apprehensions toward
For example, leaders in Singapore and Thailand have lamented
their growing dependence on the Chinese market and have expressed
an interest in developing closer economic ties to India. India's
success in engaging the region is due in large part to the absence
of any border or territorial disputes with these countries and to
the widely held perception that it poses no security threat to the
India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
signed a Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity
agreement on November 11, 2004, marking a significant step in the
development of relations between India and the countries of
Southeast Asia. India became a full dialogue partner of ASEAN
in 1995; joined the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1996; became a
summit partner of ASEAN (called ASEAN plus One) in 2002; and became
a member of the East Asia Summit in December 2005.
- India's trade with ASEAN countries has risen from $2.4 billion
in 1990 to $23 billion in 2005.
- India and ASEAN are working to complete a free trade agreement
by July of this year.
- India has enhanced its naval profile in Southeast Asia to
strengthen its Look East policy and to disrupt the flow of arms
across the Bay of Bengal to insurgents in India's northeast
and to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
In June 1997, the littoral states of the Bay of Bengal
(Bangladesh, Burma, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) established the
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sector Technical Cooperation
(BIMSTEC) to enhance economic cooperation.
In addition to integrating with the multilateral institutional
structures of Southeast Asia, India has focused on building
stronger bilateral relationships in the region, especially
with Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and
Indonesia. India holds periodic naval exercises with
these countries and participates in a biannual gathering of
regional navies, called the Milan.
India has also entered into bilateral defense cooperation
agreements with Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, and
Indonesia and has assisted the armed forces of Burma and Thailand.
India is concerned about growing links between China and
Burma, with which it shares land and maritime borders, and has
in recent years deemphasized its support for democracy there
in order to build ties to the military junta, a policy that causes
friction between New Delhi and Washington.
Reaffirming the Russian
In addition to building new relationships in Asia, India is
reaffirming its long-held ties to Russia. Russian President
Vladimir Putin's and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov's visit to
India in late January demonstrates that India and Russia continue
to share a special relationship that was solidified during the
Cold War, especially during the 1970s and 1980s. Putin was feted
during his stay in India, which included serving as the chief guest
at India's Republic Day function, a rare honor symbolizing the
continuing importance that India attaches to its relationship with
The Singh-Putin meetings resulted in substantive agreements on
civilian nuclear energy, space, defense, science, advanced
technology, energy, trade, and culture. Singh and Putin signed nine
bilateral documents, including a memorandum of intent on
construction of four nuclear power plants in the Indian state of
Tamil Nadu. In light of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement,
Moscow is positioning itself to be a primary supplier of new Indian
nuclear power stations. U.S., French, and even some Japanese
companies also hope to win nuclear power deals from India over the
next few years. Despite the strength of their strategic
relationship, India-Russia trade remains low at around $2.7
A primary goal of Putin's trip was to reestablish Moscow's
position as India's principal arms supplier. About 80 percent of
India's existing military equipment is of Russian origin, and
Russian arms sales to India total about $1.5 billion annually.
During the January visit, the two countries signed agreements
for licensed production of Russian aircraft engines in India,
joint development of a new transport plane, and co-development of
the fifth-generation jet fighter, a major step in expanding their
aerospace cooperation. Russia offered its MiG-35 combat jets for
an Indian tender for 126 fighter jets, a deal potentially worth
about $10 billion. The U.S. has also offered F/A-18 and F-16
fighters to fill this tender. Ivanov told journalists in Moscow on
January 22 that since Russia's military ties to India have stood
the test of time, Russia should continue to receive special
treatment in meeting India's defense requirements.
India's military market is one of the fastest-growing in
the world and has become a key leverage point for New Delhi in
cultivating relations with the major powers. According to a U.S.
Congressional Research Service report, India was the largest arms
purchaser in the developing world from 1998 to 2005, striking
agreements worth $20.7 billion. The U.S. is hoping to break into the
Indian market this year and start selling as much as $5 billion of
conventional military equipment.
Sergei Ivanov, one of the two favorites to succeed Putin,
also promised to allow Indian companies access to development
of Russian oil fields- an unprecedented step at a time when Western
companies are squeezed out of Russia's hydrocarbon
Central Asia. India's interest in Central Asia
revolves around its desire both to ensure that these countries do
not fall sway to Islamic radicalism and to diversify its energy
sources. India has set up a joint working group to combat
international terrorism with Tajikistan, its closest neighbor
in Central Asia. New Delhi negotiated basing rights with
Dushanbe in 2002 at the height of the Indo-Pakistani military
crisis, and the two countries have conducted joint military
exercises. India has also built a security relationship with
Uzbekistan based on countering Islamic extremism. India's decision
to join the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline project
in 2006 reflects New Delhi's concern that the proposed
Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline is becoming too controversial as Iran
continues to ignore international demands to halt its nuclear
Indian strategic planners are wary about China's gaining a
greater foothold in Central Asia. The Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO)-which includes Russia, China, and the Central
Asian states-is a Chinese-inspired organization to counter
terrorism and expand economic cooperation, but Beijing is also
trying to use the SCO to counter American influence in the
India gained observer status in the SCO in July 2005 but avoided
sending its prime minister to the SCO summit in Shanghai in
Strengthening U.S.-India Partnership
The convergence of interests between Washington and New
Delhi on issues such as fostering democracy and countering
terrorism and increasing levels of trust on nuclear issues opens
many avenues of cooperation to further both countries' national
interests in Asia. It is in the U.S. interest for India to become
more actively involved in shaping the political and security
environment in Asia. However, U.S. officials will likely be
disappointed if they expect New Delhi to see eye-to-eye with
Washington on all Asian security issues.
The U.S. should increasingly factor India into its broader Asia
policies and seek multiple forms of engagement in the region that
include India's participation. More specifically, the U.S.
- Strengthen trilateral cooperation among India, Japan, and
the U.S., especially on issues related to fostering democracy in
Asia. Although there are informal efforts to promote such
trilateral interaction, Washington should establish an official
forum to bring U.S., Indian, and Japanese officials together to
develop common policies that promote their mutual
interests in economic development, democracy, energy security,
and the science and technology sectors. Such trilateral meetings
could begin with working-level officials and gradually progress to
the ministerial level. The U.S. should also support Prime Minister
Abe's recent proposal for a four-sided strategic dialogue among
Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S.
- Highlight defense trade as a cornerstone of the U.S.-India
strategic partnership. Strong military-to-military ties and
healthy levels of defense trade that lead to interoperability of
forces and co-production arrangements are critical to developing
the strategic relationship. In March 2005, the Bush Administration
laid out a new framework for South Asia that included supporting
India's emerging power status and an unprecedented offer of F-16
and F/A-18 fighters with the potential for co-production
arrangements. Indian defense industrialists and officials have
long complained that questions about U.S. reliability as a supplier
(due to past nuclear sanctions) have dissuaded them from buying
American military hardware. Recent passage of U.S. legislation
allowing civil nuclear cooperation with India should assuage Indian
misgivings and open the door for a major boost in defense
- Highlight India's responsible role on second-tier nuclear
nonproliferation and regional security concerns as an example to
other states in the region. One of the Bush
Administration's key rationales for extending civil nuclear
cooperation to India was that bringing New Delhi into the
nonproliferation mainstream would strengthen overall global
nonproliferation efforts. The U.S. will continue to face the
issue of how to handle de facto nuclear weapons states. The
development of a criteria-based approach, which can guide U.S.
relations with these powers based on their internal political
structures, regional security posture, record on second-tier
proliferation, and general foreign policies, could help to
address the issue of nuclear nonproliferation more broadly.
- Continue to pursue missile defense cooperation with
India, especially in light of recent provocations in the region
including North Korea's missile tests on July 4, 2006, and China's
anti-satellite (ASAT) ballistic missile test on January 11. After
the Chinese test, a senior Indian defense official said that New
Delhi would take the necessary steps to counter Chinese ASAT
capabilities. The U.S. and India have engaged on the
issue of missile defense since it became the fourth plank of the
Next Steps in Strategic Partnership in early 2004. In November
2006, India successfully tested an anti-ballistic missile system
that used a hit-to-kill vehicle.
- Institute an Asia counterterrorism forum that brings
together terrorism officials from across the region to develop
policies to counter extremist movements and to improve technical
cooperation to disrupt international terrorist travel. A U.S.-led
formalized effort to build counterterrorism cooperation in Asia
would help to leverage U.S. influence in the region and to create
institutional anti-terrorism linkages among the countries of
Asia. Such a forum could focus on practical cooperation to prevent
future attacks and on engaging in the ideological battle
between moderate and radical forces within Islam.
- Concentrate on common interests with India in Asia such
as trade, democratic development, and energy security while
engaging on policy differences to improve understanding of the
reasoning behind each side's decisions. The leftist parties tend to
hold pro-Chinese views and are leery of closer ties to the U.S. At
the same time, the leftists understand that rapid economic growth
and cooperation with the West are contributing to India's rise on
the world stage. Washington should use public diplomacy to convince
the Indian mainstream that economic freedom and close U.S. ties are
in India's national interest.
- Support an increasingly assertive and robust Indian role in
Asia in both the political and economic spheres while noting
Washington's objections to strengthening a China-India- Russia axis
that seeks to limit U.S. influence in Asia. Washington should
support stable relations between India and China to avoid an
arms race that would involve Pakistan and could destabilize the
region. However, Washington should carefully watch any efforts to
build a China-India-Russia axis to counter U.S. power. While
nodding to India's multilateral diplomacy, the U.S. should
also be clear that it views the China-India-Russia arrangement as a
potential irritant to U.S.-India relations.
The future U.S.-India security partnership will need to involve
close engagement on developments in Asia and greater coordination
of policies, both bilaterally and through regional multilateral
arrangements. As the world's largest democracy with a
propensity to seek peaceful resolution of conflicts, India's
increased political and economic involvement throughout Asia
will help to stabilize a region that accounts for one-fourth of
U.S. trade and investment and nearly half of the world's
Lisa Curtis is Senior
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C. Raja Mohan
and Parag Khanna, "Getting India Right," Policy Review, No.
135 (February and March 2006), p. 45, at
(February 16, 2007).
paper explores India's relationships with the U.S., China, Japan,
Southeast Asia, Russia, and Central Asia. It does not address
India's relations with its own South Asian neighbors, which will be
the subject of a future Heritage study. For additional
information on India-Pakistan relations, see Lisa Curtis, "India
and Pakistan Poised to Make Progress on Kashmir," Heritage
Foundation Backgrounder No. 1997, January 12, 2007.
"Indo-US Counterterrorism Cooperation," in Sumit Ganguly, Brian
Shoup, and Andrew Scobell, eds., US-Indian Strategic Cooperation
into the 21st Century (London and New York: Routledge, 2006),
Kim R. Holmes, and Mary Anastasia O'Grady, 2007 Index of
Economic Freedom (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation and
Dow Jones and Company, Inc., 2007), pp. 211 and 212. The
Index score is a simple average of 10 individual freedoms,
each of which is vital to the development of personal and national
property. For example, the fundamental right of property has been
recognized for centuries by the great philosophers of liberty, such
as Locke and Montesquieu, as a bulwark of free people. Over time,
scholars and practitioners have recognized many other freedoms as
essential to economic liberty, including free trade, investment
rights, and labor freedom. The trade freedom factor is a composite
measure of the absence of tariff and non-tariff barriers that
affect imports and exports of goods and services.
J. Blank, Natural Allies? Regional Security in Asia and
Prospects for Indo-American Strategic Cooperation (Carlisle,
Pa.: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2005), p.
Rajamony, "India-China-U.S. Triangle: A 'Soft' Balance of Power
System in the Making," Center for Strategic and International
Studies, March 15, 2002.
Kapila, "Russia-India-China Strategic Triangle Contours Emerge,"
South Asia Analysis Group Paper No. 1424, June 21, 2005.
Scrutton, "Energy Ties to Fuel India, China, Russia Summit,"
Reuters, February 14, 2007, at www.in.today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2007-02-14T081853Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-287599-1.xml
(February 15, 2007).
Schaffer and Vibhuti Hate, "India, China, and Japan," Center for
Strategic and International Studies South Asia Monitor,No.
102 (January 3, 2007), at
(February 12, 2007).
Natural Allies? p. 77.
Kapila, "Japan-India Strategic Cooperation: Differing Nuances?"
South Asia Analysis Group Paper No. 2099, January 18, 2007,
(February 12, 2007).
Baruah, "India Likely to Take Part in Four-Nation Talks," The
Hindu, January 17, 2007.
Chellaney, "Japan-India Partnership Key to Bolstering Stability in
Asia," The Japan Times, December 14, 2006.
Takenori, "The World As India Sees
Natural Allies? p. 69.
G. V. C.
Naidu, "Whither the Look East Policy: India and Southeast Asia,"
Strategic Analysis, Vol. 28, No. 2 (April-June 2004).
Abdullaev and Vivek Raghuvanshi, "Russia Works to Remain India's
Top Supplier," Defense News, January 29, 2007, p. 6.
Kronstadt, "U.S.-India Relations," Congressional Research Service
Report for Congress, updated November 9, 2006, at
(February 12, 2007).
"India-Russia Ties in Fifth Gear," The
Economic Times, January 25, 2007, at
(February 12, 2007).
F. Grimmett, "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations,
1998-2005," Congressional Research Service Report for
Congress, October 23, 2006, at (February
Natural Allies? p. 53.
Tribune News Service, "India to Counter
China's Anti-Satellite Test, says DRDO," The Tribune
(Chandigarh, India), January 20, 2007, at
(February 16, 2007).