India is looking forward to the completion of the legislative and other processes relating to its "emblematic" civil nuclear deal with the United States to get it going, said visiting Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee in New York.
"The India-US civil nuclear agreement is emblematic of the new relationship...and we look forward to the completion of the legislative and other processes to permit the commencement of civil nuclear cooperation," he said in an address to the Indian-American community at a reception hosted by Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen in New York on Sunday.
The agreement pertains solely to civilian power generation, said Mukherjee, and will not in any way affect India's strategic programme or its indigenous research and development programme.
India has been a responsible member of the international community, he said, noting that despite being the first Asian country to have built a nuclear reactor indigenously and then developing full nuclear fuel cycle activities, it had always used these sensitive technologies with great caution and care.
"There has not been even one case of outward nuclear proliferation from India to any country. This is the premise on which the international community today is prepared to cooperate with us in developing civil nuclear technology," Mukherjee said.
Indo-US initiatives have however not been limited to that of civil nuclear cooperation. In the last 18 months alone, India and the United States signed an Open Skies Agreement to increase the number of flights between the two countries and enhance trade and tourism. Since then, the number of flights has increased and non-stop flights between the two countries have commenced.
The Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, or the NSSP process, had been concluded. This has made licensing procedures for export of sensitive goods and technologies from the US to India easier and more predictable, Mukherjee said.
The two countries had also taken various India-US initiatives that will have a positive global impact - in promotion of democracy, in natural disaster management, in meeting the challenges caused by pandemics like HIV/AIDS and avian flu and in other fields.
Hence growing India-US cooperation will be of benefit not only to the two countries but also will have a positive global impact, he said.
Mukherjee said he was confident that this trend of closer India-US partnership would strengthen in the coming years. India will continue its rise in the comity of nations, and so will the role of the Indian-American community within the United States.
The future of India and that of the Indian-American community thus appear to be intrinsically inter-twined.
To respond to the widespread desire of this vibrant and dynamic community to have greater formal links with the land of its origin, the Indian government took the initiative of creating a separate Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and also put in place the overseas citizenship scheme, he said.
"We look forward to continuing to work together even more closely with you in forging a deeper partnership between India and the United States, based on abiding values cherished by both our countries as well as our common concerns and intersecting interests," Mukherjee said.
Indian Americans, he noted, represent the fastest growing and third most populous Asian group in the US. Indian Americans are the best educated and amongst the wealthiest ethnic groups in this country.
"Since, for most of you, your country of origin and your country of adoption are both democracies, I am sure that your participation as good American citizens in the political process of this country will serve your and this nation's long-term interests," Mukherjee said.
Taking note of the contribution of the Indian-American community to political life of the US, he stated that with each passing year their participation in the political processes at the local, state and national level would continue to increase and be commensurate with their contributions to other aspects of life in the US.
The Indian-American community has rightly earned for itself an extraordinary place in this country with the relationship between India and the US flourishing with them, he said.
"Today, we stand on the cusp of a great transformation in this relationship. Your role in this process is vital," Mukherjee said, noting that the rise of the influence of the Indian-American community has occurred in parallel with the strategic, economic and technological resurgence of India.