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Yes, together we can

Both India and the US are seeing the world through the same prism. Their approaches may vary, but they are striving to realise common goals, writes Timothy J Roemer.

india Updated: May 21, 2011 17:06 IST
Timothy J Roemer

In his public speeches and private official meetings during his historic visit to India, President Barack Obama laid out a new vision for the US-India global partnership; one that is no longer merely bilateral in nature, but strategic in approach and encompasses working together, both regionally and globally, to shape our shared vision of the future for prosperity, security, and democratic values into a ‘real politic’.

This strategic vision recognises that India has ‘risen’ and is ready to play an important and influential part on the global stage. As the president said, India is no longer emerging, it has emerged. President Obama recognised that India faces numerous challenges in the future, yet believes that this is the opportunity for the 21st century.

This new vision is based on the belief that the US and India’s shared interests are best advanced in partnership. “A partnership of equals,” as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called it. The goal of this new vision is for the US and India to forge a truly global partnership, not only for our mutual benefit, but also for the benefit of Asia and the entire world.

This shared vision of security and democratic values is the reason for the president’s historic announcement that the US looks forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member. This major policy statement made by the president speaks for itself.

This global partnership will work together to promote prosperity, not only between our two countries, but also in other regions of the world. We have seen our new global partnership in action in the G20, where the US and India are working together to make the global economic recovery strong and durable. The prime minister has made significant contributions to this restructuring and reform.

During the president’s visit, we signed several agreements to pursue joint research and development to create technology through green jobs in the US and better access to cleaner, affordable energy for India. This is a perfect example of a converging interest and shared benefit that is a win-win for both countries.

Together, we will address food security not only in India but also in Africa. Our global partnership can leverage India’s expertise with African farmers and US expertise with technology to address an urgent global challenge.

We have a shared vision for a peaceful, stable, and democratic Afghanistan. India has provided critical assistance to Afghanistan — up to $1.3 billion in developmental assistance. In the future, we will work not only with similar strategic interests in Afghanistan, but also pursue joint development projects with the Afghan government in capacity-building, agriculture and women’s empowerment.

Our security ties are connected to our mutual experience on 26/11 and 9/11. Security includes cooperating in defence, addressing nuclear terrorism, and providing stability and access to global resources like air, sea, space, and cyberspace. In these areas, too, our global partnership will increase our engagement so that we meet humanitarian and other challenges like piracy and terrorism; so that we work together to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and secure vulnerable nuclear material; and so that we ensure that shared global resources are open to — and used responsibly — by all. Through our Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative, we are collaborating on megacity policing, forensics, and border security to name a few of the many areas of shared interest.

Finally, as President Obama said to Parliament, “We are going to show that democracy, more than any other form of government, delivers for the common man and woman.” Our democracies flourish and our ability to advance our shared democratic values throughout the world grows with an educated citizenry. In response, we have expanded our student and faculty exchanges and we will increase university partnerships that focus on the needs of our communities.

In meeting the challenges of promoting prosperity, preserving peace and security, and advancing our shared democratic values, our relationship will no longer be defined by a single topic. We are now working together on all human endeavours — from trade to counterterrorism, from clean energy to development, from science to education. Such a change in our relationship since 2000 points to a tremendously positive trajectory in our bilateral relationship.

Some have said “the sky is the limit for our global partnership.” Yet we have exceeded that expectation as well — working together to discover water on the moon and exploring the ocean waters for trends in monsoons. Along the way, there might be bumps on the road that lead some critics and pundits to claim “this global partnership cannot work”. In fact, although we share a vision of the future, we may believe in different approaches to reach our common goals. However, our shared values and beliefs in pluralism, rule of law, tolerance, free markets, and democracy naturally draw us together. We see the world increasingly through the same prism, which will overcome most differences in tactics as we attain our long-term strategic objectives.

Promoting prosperity, preserving peace and security, and advancing our shared democratic values will be the focus of the US-India global partnership that will meet global challenges. As we move forward, President Obama told Parliament, “The relationship between the US and India — bound by our shared interests and our shared values — will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. This is the vision that our nations can realise together.”

Timothy J Roemer is US Ambassador to India. The views expressed by the author are personal.