A renewed US-India partnership for the 21st century
Thursday, 2 October 2014 00:00
By Narendra Modi and Barack Obama
www.washingtonpost.com: As nations committed to democracy, liberty, diversity and enterprise, India and the United States are bound by common values and mutual interests. We have each shaped the positive trajectory of human history, and through our joint efforts, our natural and unique partnership can help shape international security and peace for years to come.
Ties between the United States and India are rooted in the shared desire of our citizens for justice and equality. When Swami Vivekananda presented Hinduism as a world religion, he did so at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. When Martin Luther King Jr. sought to end discrimination and prejudice against African Americans, he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent teachings. Gandhiji himself drew upon the writings of Henry David Thoreau.
As nations, we’ve partnered over the decades to deliver progress to our people. The people of India remember the strong foundations of our cooperation. The food production increases of the Green Revolution and the Indian Institutes of Technology are among the many products of our collaboration.
Today our partnership is robust, reliable and enduring, and it is expanding. Our relationship involves more bilateral collaboration than ever before — not just at the federal level but also at the state and local levels, between our two militaries, private sectors and civil society. Indeed, so much has happened that, in 2000, then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee could declare that we are natural allies.
After many years of growing cooperation since, on any given day, our students work together on research projects, our scientists develop cutting-edge technology and senior officials consult closely on global issues. Our militaries conduct joint exercises in air, on land and at sea, and our space programs engage in unprecedented areas of cooperation, leading us from Earth to Mars. And in this partnership, the Indian American community has been a vibrant, living bridge between us. Its success has been the truest reflection of the vitality of our people, the value of America’s open society and the strength of what we can do when we join together.
Time to set a new agenda
Still, the true potential of our relationship has yet to be fully realised. The advent of a new government in India is a natural opportunity to broaden and deepen our relationship. With a reinvigorated level of ambition and greater confidence, we can go beyond modest and conventional goals. It is time to set a new agenda, one that realises concrete benefits for our citizens.
This will be an agenda that enables us to find mutually-rewarding ways to expand our collaboration in trade, investment and technology that harmonise with India’s ambitious development agenda, while sustaining the United States as the global engine of growth. When we meet today in Washington, we will discuss ways in which we can boost manufacturing and expand affordable renewable energy, while sustainably securing the future of our common environment. We will discuss ways in which our businesses, scientists and governments can partner as India works to improve the quality, reliability and availability of basic services, especially for the poorest of citizens. In this, the United States stands ready to assist. An immediate area of concrete support is the “Clean India” campaign, where we will leverage private and civil society innovation, expertise and technology to improve sanitation and hygiene throughout India.
A better future for all
While our shared efforts will benefit our own people, our partnership aspires to be larger than merely the sum of its parts. As nations, as people, we aspire to a better future for all; one in which our strategic partnership also produces benefits for the world at large.
While India benefits from the growth generated by US investment and technical partnerships, the United States benefits from a stronger, more prosperous India. In turn, the region and the world benefit from the greater stability and security that our friendship creates. We remain committed to the larger effort to integrate South Asia and connect it with markets and people in Central and Southeast Asia.
As global partners, we are committed to enhancing our homeland security by sharing intelligence, through counterterrorism and law-enforcement cooperation, while we jointly work to maintain freedom of navigation and lawful commerce across the seas.
Our health collaboration will help us tackle the toughest of challenges, whether combating the spread of Ebola, researching cancer cures or conquering diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and dengue. And we intend to expand our recent tradition of working together to empower women, build capacity and improve food security in Afghanistan and Africa.
The exploration of space will continue to fire our imaginations and challenge us to raise our ambitions. That we both have satellites orbiting Mars tells its own story. The promise of a better tomorrow is not solely for Indians and Americans: It also beckons us to move forward together for a better world. This is the central premise of our defining partnership for the 21st century. Forward together we go — chalein saath saath.
(Narendra Modi is Prime Minister of India. Barack Obama is President of the United States.)