India-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

India-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

by Congressional Research Service


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India will soon be the world's most populous country, home to about one of every six people. Many factors combine to infuse India's government and people with "great power" aspirations: the Asian giant's rich civilization and history, expanding strategic horizons, energetic global and international engagement, critical geography (with more than 9,000 total miles of land borders, many of them disputed) astride vital sea and energy lanes, major economy (at times the world's fastest growing) with a rising middle class and an attendant boost in defense and power projection capabilities (replete with a nuclear weapons arsenal and triad of delivery systems), and vigorous science and technology sectors, among others.

In recognition of India's increasingly central role and ability to influence world affairs-and with a widely-held assumption that a stronger and more prosperous democratic India is good for the United States in and of itself-the U.S. Congress and two successive U.S. Administrations have acted both to broaden and deepen America's engagement with New Delhi. Such engagement is unprecedented after decades of Cold War-era estrangement and today takes place "across the spectrum of human endeavor for a better world," as described in a 2015 U.S.-India Declaration of Friendship. Washington and New Delhi launched a "strategic partnership" in 2005, along with a framework for long-term defense cooperation that now includes large-scale joint military exercises and significant defense trade. Bilateral trade and investment have increased while a relatively wealthy Indian-American community is exercising newfound domestic political influence, and Indian nationals account for a large proportion of foreign students on American college campuses and foreign workers in the information technology sector.

Yet more engagement has meant more areas of friction in the partnership. India's economy, while slowly reforming, continues to be a relatively closed one, with barriers to trade and investment deterring foreign business interests. Differences over U.S. immigration law, especially in the area of nonimmigrant work visas, remain unresolved; New Delhi views these as trade disputes. India's intellectual property protection regime comes under regular criticism from U.S. officials and firms. Other stumbling blocks-on localization barriers and civil nuclear commerce, among others-add to sometimes argumentative associations. Meanwhile, cooperation in the fields of defense trade, intelligence, and counterterrorism, although vastly superior to that of only a decade ago, runs up against the obstacles variously posed by India's bureaucracy, limited governmental capacity, difficult procurement process, seemingly incompatible federal institutions, and a lingering shortage of trust, not least due to America's ongoing security relationship with and aid to India's key rival, Pakistan. Finally, Members of Congress take notice of human rights abuses in India, perhaps especially those related to religious freedom.

Despite these many areas of sometimes serious discord, the U.S. Congress has remained broadly positive in its posture toward the U.S.-India strategic and commercial partnership. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has thus far issued amicable rhetoric overall (with some lapses) that suggests an intention to maintain the general outlines of recent U.S.-India ties.

This report reviews the major facets of current U.S.-India relations, particularly in the context of congressional interest. It discusses areas in which perceived U.S. and Indian national interests converge and areas in which they diverge; other leading Indian foreign relations that relate to U.S. interests; the outlines of bilateral engagement in defense, trade, and investment relations, as well as important issues involving energy, climate change; and human rights concerns.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781973756118
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 07/20/2017
Pages: 46
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.10(d)

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