Education Scholarships

Direct link to the various education scholarships offered by the Government of India

List of Private NGOs offering education scholarships

Ummid Assistant

Application form for OBC & Domicile Certificate Certificates (Urdu)

Admission open to AMU off campus centers at Murshidabad (WB) and at Malappuram (Kerala). Click here for admission form.

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Increasing divergences bog down Indo-US strategic partnership

Saturday November 06, 2010 11:41:31 AM, A. Vinod Kumar, IANS

Related Article

'Obama's Asia trip underscores re-engagement strategy'

US President Barack Obama's visit to Asia next month underscores his Asia strategy of renewed engagement, a top aide has said. According to Xinhua, US engagement in Asia is "founded upon    »

In an era where even a strategic partnership between India and China is theoretically possible, the unrelenting emphasis on India's strategic relationship with the US often seems a fashion statement. As relations between the world's largest democracies get intensely scrutinised, diplomatic niceties constrain both parties from accepting that increasing divergences are pushing back the partnership to the basics.

While squarely blaming the Obama administration for causing a major share of reversions, seldom considered is the fact that dogmatic incompatibilities prevailed from day one of the partnership, which were consequently overlooked as issues not central to a maturing relationship. Seven years down the line, areas of divergence now threaten to outnumber the areas of convergence - a peculiar situation that dominated India-US relations during the years predating the bonhomie.

As President Barack Obama now strives to elevate the quantum of interdependence and coherence of common interests with an 'indispensable' partner, long-standing disagreements come back to the fore with negligible concord seen on key global issues.

At the core of the dissonance is the moot question: can asymmetric powers have a strategic relationship which, most importantly, signifies an egalitarian equation? Will it risk projecting a hegemon-client state relationship where the latter ends up as a feeder to the hegemon's interests? Will the pressure of reciprocity confine the relationship to a give and take equation, thereby eroding common interests? These fundamentals remain unaddressed even as the debate veers around the question of 'what one did for the other'.

The partnership began with recognition of major divergences and attempts to understand each other's position. Initiatives like the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) led to concrete agreements on sensitive areas like nuclear and defence cooperation, though without rectifying historical dichotomies. Facilitating India's integration into the non-proliferation regime - the driving theme behind the nuclear deal - remain unfulfilled as India refused to accede to the regime's cornerstone, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while Washington failed to reform the outdated edifice to suit the emerging environment.

The defence cooperation agreement, on the other hand, has evolved into a supplier-vendor framework with actual potential for comprehensive defence partnership being eroded. Despite common threats and interoperability emerging among the forces, India resists any ideas of union between the two democracies which resembles a military alliance.

Flowing from such ambivalence is a host of lingering issues, including high technology, nuclear liability legislation, counter-terror cooperation and Security Council membership, which have predictably taken centre-stage in recent weeks. Though explanations from both sides have been traded to justify their positions, concrete attempts to resolve the underlying causal factors largely remain uninitiated. At the core is Washington's endless desire to force India's compatibility with its foreign policy goals, ranging from Af-Pak to counter-terror to non-proliferation. This raises a pertinent question: can a strategic partnership endure when the dominant partner pushes its interests at the cost of the other?

Nowhere is this feature more visible than in the Af-Pak dynamics. Besides catering to the Pakistani obstinacy of not allowing any strategic space to India in Afghanistan, Washington has effectively insulated action against Pakistan-based terror groups, especially the 26/11 perpetrators, by concentrating overwhelming focus on the Taliban. But for occasional exhortations on Pakistan to act against these groups, little effort has come from Washington to rectify the mockery of 26/11 investigations. It is, although, ironic that India has to depend on Washington to safeguard and promote its security interests in the region. A greater affront was the administration's decision to continue the perennial flow of billions as counter-terror and political assistance into a hub of terrorism, despite realising that a major chunk end ups with the anti-India machinery in Pakistan's security establishment, which also plays a double-game in the anti-Taliban operations.

Washington's reluctance to change its traditional tilt towards Pakistan, thus, prompts a natural poser: what has India gained from the strategic partnership that Pakistan has not, without one? More importantly, will the partnership justify its raison d'ętre when India's interests are consistently undermined in Af-Pak?

Opacity and conflicting interests were hallmarks on the counter-terror front as well. US officials intensely argue that the access to David Headley was unprecedented and that it embodied India's significance in its counter-terror framework. This is to ignore the struggles that Indian officials underwent in contrast to the smooth access US sleuths had to the 26/11 culprits. The resultant friction best testifies how Washington determines the terms of such cooperation and refuses to initiate best practices through comprehensive cooperation.

A new irritant in the partnership is said to be the nuclear liability bill whose supplier liability provisions disappointed the US nuclear industry, and has subsequently been projected as a spoiler for nuclear cooperation. This argument is made despite realising that the bill came after intense domestic debate. Legislatures in democracies are naturally expected to endow greater importance to their populace than tailor laws to suit industry requirements. For a country traumatised by the Bhopal gas tragedy, putting in place sufficient compensatory structures is vital to initiate its part of the nuclear renaissance.

Finally, the US support to India's permanent membership in a reformed Security Council has been touted as a litmus test for the strategic partnership. American experts suggest that this could come only when India shows greater reciprocity by backing US policies globally. Such assertions imply pushing India to turn a client-state with its foreign policy surrendered to US interests, which even hard-core US allies could desist doing.

Common interests were supposed to shape this strategic partnership. Yet, there is minimal convergence on common goals and perceptions on the emergent world order. With its dominance in southern Asia fast eroding, India as a major power (which President Bush promised to facilitate) is the best bet for Washington to promote its interests in the region, especially in the face of an aggressively-rising China.

The Obama administration could be clearer on what it expects from India, and New Delhi on what it can give. The partnership could then pursue only what is pragmatic.

(The author is Associate Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. He can be contacted at




  Bookmark and Share                                          Home | Top of the Page

Comment on this article

E-mail Address:
Write here...

News Pick

Egypt unearths 3,400-year-old Pharaoh statue

A 3,400-year-old statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep III was discovered in southern Egypt, Xinhua reported. The secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Zahi Hawwas said Thursday it is one of the  »

Plane with 68 on board crashes in Cuba

A Cuban passenger plane with 68 people on board, 28 among them foreigners, crashed late Thursday, authorities said, without specifying whether there were any survivors. According to the Cuban civil aeronautics institute  »

The Cultural Disconnect

When I sent out my article on gender issues and my critique of the feudal/patriarchal society of Hyderabad, the muted response from the Urdu media in this city eloquently bespoke of the prevailing mindsets in the city. It was ironic that while Muslims  »

20 sentenced to life for murder of 3 Dalits

Twenty people were sentenced to life imprisonment by a court here Thursday for killing three Dalits 17 years ago during a clash over allowing members of the Dalit community to enter a village temple. Additional Sessions  »

48 killed as Indonesian volcano erupts again

At least 48 people were killed and 66 seriously injured Friday by clouds of searing ash and lava from the latest eruptions of Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano, hospital staff said. In the nearby city of Yogyakarta, Sardjito   »

'Teesta Setalvad not worried about court probe'

The Citizens for Justice and Peace, the Mumbai-based voluntary organization fighting for the 2002 Gujarat riot victims, stated Thursday that its »

More Headlines

What led to Maharashtra's poverty of leadership

Another whistle-blower to rival WikiLeaks

India celebrates Diwali with diyas, sweets and pujas

Where Diwali is celebrated with cane fights!

Peaceniks welcome end to Attari border 'confrontation'

Hundreds of foetuses, newborns dumped in South Africa every year

US consul-general apologises to Chavan, Bhujbal

Weak at maths? Try zapping your brain!

21 killed in Karachi plane crash

Nitish hits poll trail on Diwali, rivals in festive spirit

Plane with 68 on board crashes in Cuba

48 killed as Indonesian volcano erupts again

Plane crashes in Karachi, 20 on board

Egypt unearths 3,400-year-old Pharaoh statue




Top Stories

India set to receive Obama

India's financial capital Mumbai was set to receive US President Barack Obama at the start of his four-day visit to India beginning mid-day Saturday. Obama is accompanied by his wife Michelle and top officials in   »

Obama creates buzz among Delhi, Mumbai college-goers

Obama on mission to sell more to India, create US jobs


Picture of the Day

President of India Mrs Pratibha Devisingh Patil receiving greetings from all walks of life, on the occasion of “Diwali”, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on November 05, 2010.


  Most Read

Peaceniks welcome end to Attari border 'confrontation'

On the eve of US President Barack Obama's visit to Asia starting Saturday, Indian and Pakistani peace activists Friday welcomed the end of the face-to-face show of bravado at the Attari border between the two countries. In a statement, the activists expressed happiness  »

Hundreds of foetuses, newborns dumped in South Africa every year

Hundreds of foetuses and dead newborns are being dumped in the Johannesburg and Pretoria area each year, a South African radio station reported Friday. Johannesburg's private 702 radio station quoted a report by the South African Medical Research Council and the Pretoria-based  »



RSS  |  Contact us

| Quick links



Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant






About us




Government Schemes











Contact us





      Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2010 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.