Telecom, education, AI: India, US set for major deliverables | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Telecom, education, AI: India, US set for major deliverables

By, Washington:
Jun 19, 2023 07:25 AM IST

The two sides will also discuss the importance of “openness and freedom”, values that have become more crucial as India and the US become trusted partners.

The United States (US) and India are becoming “partners of first resort”, there is more common ground on even issues of divergence such as Russia’s war in Ukraine than assumed; the strategic and policy convergence between the two countries spans across the Indo-Pacific to West Asia; and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit will support and reinforce President Joe Biden’s vision of the two countries being among the closest nations in the world with actual substantive deliverables, people familiar with the discussions have said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden in Oval Office, at White House in Washington,on September 24, 2021. (Reuters)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden in Oval Office, at White House in Washington,on September 24, 2021. (Reuters)

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Giving a glimpse of the deliverables in the offing in the joint statement, those quoted above suggested that there will not just be a breakthrough on the GE F414 jet engine deal, but a range of other issues, including in telecom, semiconductors, mobility, civil-nuclear cooperation, trade, space, higher education, artificial intelligence, quantum, and counter-narcotics. There is a clear sense in both systems that the initiative on critical and emerging technologies (ICET), and the leadership of national security advisers Ajit Doval and Jake Sullivan, have helped drive the process in quick time.

Also Read | India-US to step up space cooperation during PM Modi visit

The two sides will also discuss the importance of “openness and freedom”, values that have become more crucial as India and the US become trusted partners in critical sectors.

Strategic deliverables

Among the deliverables will be collaboration in helping set up a semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem in India. This will include Micron announcing a major investment in big assembly, testing and packaging manufacturing facility in Gujarat but, alongside, at least two other American companies will unveil a major initiative for workforce training, equipping thousands of Indian engineers with skills in the domain.

It will include movement on telecom where the US sees India as an important “counterpoint”. The joint statement is expected to announce the deployment of the open radio access network (ORAN) for 5G and then 6G in select Indian cities. The US International Development Finance Corporation is likely to provide finances for the pilot deployment. To counter Huawei’s dominance in the sector, and offer an alternative model to other countries, both nations feel the need for a successful deployment of a disaggregated and interoperable telecom network. During ICET’s launch in January, India had said that given the country’s cost-competitiveness and scale, both sides agreed to launch a public-private dialogue covering 5G/6G and ORAN using trusted sources. The White House had then added that both sides will advance cooperation on research and development in 5G and 6G, ”facilitating deployment and adoption of Open RAN in India, and fostering global economies of scale within the sector”.

The joint statement will see language on artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum, with the US clearly recognising that having India in the room on emerging technologies, particularly AI, is essential in designing any regulatory framework around the issue.

ICET has also given an impetus to the issue of civil-nuclear cooperation and the issue is likely to find a reflection in the joint statement in some form. After the civil-nuclear deal, the US system and American companies have felt they have not been able to take advantage of commercial opportunities and invest due to India’s liability law. While the government of India believes that the liability related concerns have been addressed through legislation, there is a hope within the American system that a government-to-government agreement can clear the obstacles in perception that remain on indemnity and liability.

On Friday and Saturday, HT reported on the possible outcomes on higher education and space collaboration — both remain high on the agenda.

Mobility and trade

The US is also likely to announce the opening of more consulates in India, which should help deepen people-to-people links. On mobility, the US will also allow the re-issuance of H1Bs visas within America, an important step that will help thousands of people from making the trip back to India and wait for visa appointments to get a renewal.

While the volume of India-US trade is growing – it stood at $191 billion in goods and services in 2022 – the two sides are looking at resolving some of their outstanding trade disputes at the World Trade Organisation. In the joint statement, a breakthrough on some of the disputes is likely to find reflection, as a marker of the trust. The two sides will continue to emphasise the need for supply chain diversification and investments, including in sectors such as pharmaceuticals.

Ukraine and democracy

Acknowledging that Ukraine and the divergent responses of Washington and Delhi to Russia’s invasion had posed a challenge, those involved in discussions emphasised the commonalities. “When we look at the specifics, there is a preponderance of boxes we check, be it India reaffirming the respect for principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty and the United Nations charter, providing humanitarian assistance, buying Russian oil at rates below the price cap, and making clear statements about the unacceptability of nuclear threats,” said a person aware of the thinking on the US side.

The issue of values is expected to figure in private conversations between the two leaders. Those involved with the discussions around the visit believe that democratic values, particularly the ideas of “openness and freedom”, have become more salient in recent years as India and the US seek to build a “trusted partnership and ecosystem”. The perceptions about democratic backsliding or human rights violations in India won’t define the conversations or the visit, but Biden is expected to emphasise to Modi that a key attraction of the Indian development model, Indian technological prowess, and Indian society is based on its open and free character and maintaining the quality of Indian democracy is key to Indian global leadership.

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