Voices this Week draws together published material on an important strategic issue in South Asia.  This week, in the wake of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to New Delhi for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue: the India-U.S. Strategic Relationship.

Michael Kugelman offers3 Reasons for John Kerry to Be in India While the Rest of the World Burns:” “…at this crucial juncture, Secretary of State John Kerry has jetted off to New Delhi for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue on Thursday. Given all that’s going on elsewhere, some argue that this is the wrong time for Mr. Kerry to make this particular visit. Wrong. Here are three reasons why Mr. Kerry is doing the right thing at the right time:”

  1. The U.S. has an opportunity to demonstrate that it values its relations with the world’s largest democracy.
  2. The shifting strategic sands of South Asia – in particular the U.S. military drawdown in Afghanistan – create an opening for deeper U.S. engagement with India.
  3. John Kerry needs to repair his own image in India.

“To be sure, Mr. Kerry’s visit will be heavy on symbolism and light on substance, and it won’t resolve the numerous sore points afflicting bilateral ties. But it can still be a significant diplomatic success—significant enough for the U.S. secretary of state to take a break from the world’s crises for a few days.”

Harsh V. Pant authors: “Indo-U.S. Relations: Moving Beyond the Plateau.” He claims that “for all the annual hype associated with the dialogue, it has not been able to achieve much so far.… But with a new political dispensation in New Delhi, both Washington and New Delhi have a fresh opportunity to significantly alter the trajectory of their bilateral ties.” Still, Pant argues:

“differences abound, from the geostrategic to the economic sphere. American businesses have been concerned about various issues including high tariffs, retrospective tax policies, intellectual property rights protection, and foreign direct investment (FDI) restrictions in various key sectors in India. Meanwhile, Indian concerns have revolved around visa barriers and technology transfer restrictions…. India is [also] worried about the impending U.S. departure from Afghanistan, and the United States views India as a less than helpful partner in managing global crises from Ukraine to the Middle East.” 

Suhasini Haider writes of Kerry’s mission overload, saying “it will take more than a meeting of two leaders to reverse the damage of the past year in India-U.S. ties — the hurt needs to be addressed as well.”


Image: Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Flickr

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