India’s relation with United States of America, Russia, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Maldives and Middle East Countries.
India’s relation with United States of America
The frequency of high-level visits and exchanges between India and the U.S. has gone up significantly of late. Prime Minister Modi visited the U.S. on 26-30 September 2014; he held meetings with President Obama, members of the U.S. Congress and political leaders, including from various States and cities in the U.S., and interacted with members of President Obama’s Cabinet. He also reached out to the captains of the U.S. commerce and industry, the American civil society and think tanks, and the Indian-American community. A Vision Statement and a Joint Statement were issued during the visit.
Civil Nuclear Cooperation:
The bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement was finalized in July 2007 and signed in October 2008. During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the U.S. in September 2014, the two sides set up a Contact Group for advancing the full and timely implementation of the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, and to resolve pending issues. Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the two sides have started the preparatory work on site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse. Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, and Westinghouse are in talks toward finalizing the contractual arrangements, and addressing related issues.
Defence relationship has emerged as a major pillar of India-U.S. strategic partnership with the signing of ‘New Framework for India-U.S. Defense Relations’ in 2005 and the resulting intensification in defence trade, joint exercises, personnel exchanges, collaboration and cooperation in maritime security and counter-piracy, and exchanges between each of the three services. The Defence Framework Agreement was updated and renewed for another 10 years in June 2015.
Aggregate worth of defence acquisition from U.S. Defence has crossed over US$ 13 billion. India and the United States have launched a Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) aimed at simplifying technology transfer policies and exploring possibilities of co-development and co-production to invest the defence relationship with strategic value.
Counter-terrorism and internal security:
Cooperation in counter-terrorism has seen considerable progress with intelligence sharing, information exchange, operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology and equipment. India-U.S. Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Initiative was signed in 2010 to expand collaboration on counter-terrorism, information sharing and capacity building. A Homeland Security Dialogue was announced during President Obama’s visit to India in November 2010 to further deepen operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology transfers and capacity building. Two rounds of this Dialogue have been held, in May 2011 and May 2013, with six Sub-Groups steering cooperation in specific areas. In December 2013, India-U.S Police Chief Conference on homeland security was organized in New Delhi. Police Commissioners from India’s top four metropolis paid a study visit to the U.S. to learn the practices of megacities policing in the U.S. in November 2015. The two sides have agreed on a joint work plan to counter the threat of Improvised Explosives Device (IED).
Trade and Economic:
India-US bilateral trade in goods and services increased from $104 billion in 2014 to $114 billion in 2016. Two-way merchandise trade stood at $66.7 billion. Of this, India’s exports of goods to the US were valued at $46 billion and India’s imports of goods from US were valued at $21.7 billion. India-US trade in services stood at $47.2 billion. Both countries have made a commitment to facilitate actions necessary for increasing the bilateral trade to $500 billion. The bilateral merchandise trade is showing an encouraging growth trajectory in 2017.
Russia has been a longstanding and time-tested partner for India. Development of India-Russia relations has been a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. Since the signing of “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in October 2000 (during the visit of Russian President H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin to India), India-Russia ties have acquired a qualitatively new character with enhanced levels of cooperation in almost all areas of the bilateral relationship including political, security, trade and economy, defence, science and technology, and culture. Under the Strategic Partnership, several institutionalized dialogue mechanisms operate at both political and official levels to ensure regular interaction and follow up on cooperation activities.
Defence and Security Cooperation
India has longstanding and wide-ranging cooperation with Russia in the field of defence. India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a buyer – seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems. The two countries also hold exchanges and training exercises between their armed forces annually. The joint military exercise „Indra 2016‟ was held in the Ussuriysk District in Vladivostok from 22 September -02 October 2016. The annual bilateral naval exercise „Indra – Navy‟ took place off the coast of Vishakhapatnam on 14-21 December 2016.
Making the economic partnership a strong pillar of the bilateral partnership like other areas of cooperation between India and Russia is a key priority for both governments. In December 2014, the leaders of the two countries set a target of US $ 30 billion bilateral trade by 2025. According to Russian Federal Customs Service data, bilateral trade during in 2016 amounted to US$ 7.71 billion (decline of 1.5 % over 2015), with Indian exports amounting to US$ 2.39 billion and imports from Russia amounting to US$ 5.32 billion.
Russia is an important partner for India in the area of peaceful use of nuclear energy. It recognizes India as a country with advanced nuclear technology with an impeccable non-proliferation record. In December 2014, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Russia‟s Rosatom signed the Strategic Vision for strengthening cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy between India and Russia. Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is being built in India with Russian cooperation.
India China Relation
Despite lingering suspicions remaining from the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the 1967 Nathu La and Cho La incidents, and continuing boundary disputes over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, Sino-Indian relations have improved gradually since 1988. Both countries have sought to reduce tensions along the frontier, expand trade and cultural ties, and normalise relations. Sino-Indian relations suffered a brief setback in May 1998 when the Indian Defence minister justified the country’s nuclear tests by citing potential threats from the PRC. However, in June 1999, during the Kargil crisis, then-External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh visited Beijing and stated that India did not consider China a threat. . By 2001, relations between India and the PRC were on the mend, and the two sides handled the move from Tibet to India of the 17th Karmapa in January 2000 with delicacy and tact. In 2003, India formally recognised Tibet as a part of China, and China recognised Sikkim as a formal part of India in 2004.
Since 2004, the economic rise of both China and India has also helped forge closer relations between the two. Sino-Indian trade reached US$65.47 billion in 2013–14, making China the single largest trading partner of India. The increasing economic reliance between India and China has also bought the two nations closer politically, with both India and China eager to resolve their boundary dispute. They have also collaborated on several issues ranging from WTO’s Doha round in 2008to regional free trade agreement.Similar to Indo-US nuclear deal, India and China have also agreed to co-operate in the field of civilian nuclear energy. However, China’s economic interests have clashed with those of India. Both the countries are the largest Asian investors in Africa and have competed for control over its large natural resources.
Relations between India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan are neighbors with a history of tensions between one another. Since the independence of India, and then Pakistan, these two states have been at odds over issues that include the Kashmir conflict. The conflict has not intensified recently, but given that both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, any heightened conflict between these two countries is cause for even greater alarm; there have been genuine fears that these two states would possibly fight a nuclear conflict. Therefore, diplomats have worked to reduce India-Pakistan tensions over Kashmir.
India-Pakistan Relations and Nuclear Weapons
Given the conflict over Kashmir, there are always concerns that a war between these two states could escalate because of nuclear weapons. Historically, there have been questions as to whether either side would actually be willing to use such powerful and dangerous weapons, knowing the implications of such an act. However, there is at least some evidence to suggest that the worsening India-Pakistani relations over Kashmir have led leaders to at least consider the possibility of a nuclear attack.
Improving India-Pakistan Relations
Given the state of conflict between these two countries, scholars and policymakers have long posited options for improved ties between India and Pakistan. Some have long argued that a reduction of nuclear weapons would be one positive step in ensuring that a major conflict with such devastating tools would not be possible. Others have suggested that cooperation is what is necessary not only to prevent a war, but also to build strong states and institutions. The Carter Center (2003) has argued that positive cases between India and Pakistan can provide a path to further cooperation initiatives; “Energy trade is one area of considerable promise. India could consume as much energy as it could receive from any and all of its neighbors. Energy relationships create dependency relationships, almost by definition. And India and Pakistan’s experience with the Indus Water Treaty is one of the rare positive examples of prudence and creativity in the otherwise troubled bilateral relationship”
India’s relations with Bangladesh
India’s relations with Bangladesh could not have been stronger because of India’s unalloyed support for independence and opposition against Pakistan in 1971. During the independence war, many refugees fled to India. When the struggle of resistance matured in November 1971, India also intervened militarily and may have helped bring international attention to the issue through Indira Gandhi’s visit to Washington, D.C. Afterwards India furnished relief and reconstruction aid. India extended recognition to Bangladesh prior to the end of the war in 1971 (the second country to do so after Bhutan) and subsequently lobbied others to follow suit. India also withdrew its military from the land of Bangladesh when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman requested Indira Gandhi to do so during the latter’s visit to Dhaka in 1972.
In recent years India has increasingly complained that Bangladesh does not secure its border properly. It fears an increasing flow of poor Bangladeshis and it accuses Bangladesh of harbouring Indian separatist groups like ULFA and alleged terrorist groups. The Bangladesh government has refused to accept these allegations.
India and Bangladesh also have free trade agreement in June 7, 2015. Both countries solved its border dispute on June 6, 2015 To connect Kolkata with Tripura via Bangladesh through railway, the Union Government on 10 February 2016 sanctioned about 580 crore rupees. The money was sanctioned for constructing the 15-kilometer railway track between Kolkata and Tripura. The project that is expected to be completed by 2017 will pass through Bangladesh. The Agartala-Akhaura rail link between Indian Railway and Bangladesh Railway will reduce the current 1700 km road distance between Kolkata to Agartala via Siliguri to just 350-kilometer by railway. The project ranks high on Prime Minister’s ‘Act East’ Policy, and is expected to increase connectivity and boost trade between India and Bangladesh.
Relations between Sri Lanka and India
Relations between Sri Lanka and India have been generally friendly, but were affected by the Sri Lankan Civil War and by the failure of Indian intervention during the civil war as well as India’s support for Tamil Tiger militants. India is Sri Lanka’s only neighbour, separated by the Palk Strait; both nations occupy a strategic position in South Asia and have sought to build a common security umbrella in the Indian Ocean.
India-Sri Lanka relations have undergone a qualitative and quantitative transformation in the recent past. Political relations are close, trade and investments have increased dramatically, infrastructural linkages are constantly being augmented, defence collaboration has increased and there is a general, broad-based improvement across all sectors of bilateral co-operation. India was the first country to respond to Sri Lanka’s request for assistance after the tsunami in December 2004. In July 2006, India evacuated 430 Sri Lankan nationals from Lebanon, first to Cyprus by Indian Navy ships and then to Delhi and Colombo by special Air India flights.
There exists a broad consensus within the Sri Lankan polity on the primacy of India in Sri Lanka’s external relations matrix. Both the major political parties in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United Nationalist Party have contributed to the rapid development of bilateral relations in the last ten years. Sri Lanka has supported India’s candidature to the permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Relations between India and Afghanistan
Relations between India and Afghanistan have been traditionally strong and friendly. While India was the only South Asian country to recognise the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s, its relations were diminished during the Afghan civil wars and the rule the Islamist Taliban in the 1990s.India aided the overthrow of the Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid.
The new democratically elected Afghan government strengthened its ties with India in wake of persisting tensions and problems with Pakistan, which is continuing to shelter and support the Taliban. India pursues a policy of close co-operation to bolster its standing as a regional power and contain its rival Pakistan, which it maintains is supporting Islamic militants in Kashmir and other parts of India.India is the largest regional investor in Afghanistan, having committed more than US$2.2 billion for reconstruction purposes.
Relations between India and Nepal
Relations between India and Nepal are close yet fraught with difficulties stemming from border disputes, geography, economics, the problems inherent in big power-small power relations, and common ethnic and linguistic identities that overlap the two countries’ borders. In 1950 New Delhi and Kathmandu initiated their intertwined relationship with the Treaty of Peace and Friendship and accompanying secret letters that defined security relations between the two countries, and an agreement governing both bilateral trade and trade transiting Indian soil. The 1950 treaty and letters stated that “neither government shall tolerate any threat to the security of the other by a foreign aggressor” and obligated both sides “to inform each other of any serious friction or misunderstanding with any neighboring state likely to cause any breach in the friendly relations subsisting between the two governments”, and also granted the Indian and Nepali citizens right to get involved in any economic activity such as work and business related activity in each other’s territory. These accords cemented a “special relationship” between India and Nepal that granted Nepalese in India the same economic and educational opportunities as Indian citizens.
Relations between India and Maldives
India enjoys a considerable influence over Maldives’ foreign policy and provides extensive security co-operation especially after the Operation Cactus in 1988 during which India repelled Tamil mercenaries who invaded the country.
India is starting the process to bring the island country into India’s security grid. The move comes after the moderate Islamic nation approached New Delhi earlier this year over fears that one of its island resorts could be taken over by terrorists given its lack of military assets and surveillance capabilities.India also signed an agreement with the Maldives in 2011 which is centred around the following:
- India shall permanently base two helicopters in the country to enhance its surveillance capabilities and ability to respond swiftly to threats. One helicopter from the Coast Guard was handed over during A. K. Antony’s visit while another from the Navy will be cleared for transfer shortly.
- Maldives has coastal radars on only two of its 26 atolls. India will help set up radars on all 26 for seamless coverage of approaching vessels and aircraft.
- The coastal radar chain in Maldives will be networked with the Indian coastal radar system. India has already undertaken a project to install radars along its entire coastline. The radar chains of the two countries will be interlinked and a central control room in India’s Coastal Command will get a seamless radar picture.
- The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will carry out regular Dornier sorties over the island nation to look out for suspicious movements or vessels. The Southern Naval Command will facilitate the inclusion of Maldives into the Indian security grid.
- Military teams from Maldives will visit the tri-services Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) to observe how India manages security and surveillance of the critical island chain.
Relation between India and the Middle East
The relationship between India and the Middle East will be one to continue to watch in the months and years ahead. Given India’s attempts to build their economy and military, their relations with regional countries will continue to be high importance. India’s economic rise requires an increased use of energy. For example, India is heavily reliant on oil and natural gas from the Middle East, with 58 percent of oil coming from the region, and an even higher 88 percent of liquified natural gas deriving from states in the Middle East. India is now being courted by different countries in the Middle East, part of this is for political reasons. One of the largest rivalries in the Middle East is the Iran-Saudi Arabia relationship. In looking to find ways to reduce the influence of one another, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are looking to allies.
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