US think tank calls Indo-US ties a ‘joint-venture’
A leading US think tank has urged American policymakers to consider a new model for looking at ties with India—think of it as a “joint-venture”.
It would be focused on “a slate of shared pursuits on which interests converge” and provide for mechanisms to manage “known and expected disagreements”, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) said in the report titled, “Working with a rising India: A joint-venture for a new century”.
Leaders, policymakers and experts on both sides have struggled to define the India-US relationship, specially in recent years marked by growing engagement. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used the phrase “natural allies”.
President Barack Obama has called it a “defining partnership of the 21st century”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to describe the relationship as “natural global partners” after his first meeting with Obama in September 2014.
Now, a “joint venture”, recommends the CFR report, which was produced by a task force that included most leading experts on India-US relations such as former under secretary of state and the architect of the civil nuclear deal Nicholas Burns, former US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, Harvard professor Joseph Nye, former state department adviser Ashley Tellis, MaterCard CEO and former head of the US-India business council Ajay Banga and former state department head of India desk Alyssa Ayres.
The report acknowledges the problem with defining the relationship straight off the bat.
“India’s size, its class-of-its-own sense of self, and its fierce independence all make for a bilateral relationship—both today and tomorrow—that little resembles American ties with other countries.” India, it goes on to argue, does not sign on to formal alliances and is not seeking one with the US. How do you then define a relationship which is clearly growing but is beset also by differences—“known and expected disagreements”, as the report called them.
Add to that expectations in the US, which, when not met as has happened often, cause much grief, such as the failure of American companies to win the MMRCA deal in 2011, and the lack of progress, from the US point of view, on the nuclear deal.
“The idea of a joint venture was to sort of say it (the relationship) was sort of built to succeed and built to fail if you will and it will survive the inevitable turbulence,” Warburg Pincus co-CEO Charles R Kaye said at the release of the report