Positive steps for US-India Partnership

Positive steps for US-India Partnership

June 12, 2014

The recent elections in the Republic of India present an opportunity for the United States to renew and reinvigorate U.S.-India ties. That well over one-half billion people turned out to vote in the largest democratic exercise in history is an incredible sight to see. That a subsequent peaceful transfer of power took place sets an example for the entire world.


It’s no secret that democracies are under pressure in countless corners of the globe. But in India, democracy is not only alive and well, it is mature and thriving. That is only one part of what makes India and the Indian people a natural partner of the United States.


The United States Congress has long worked with all political parties in India, including BJP, Congress and smaller parties. Now that the Indian people have clearly spoken in the 2014 elections, it is time for the U.S. and India to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Many ideas are being floated about how to advance the relationship and move ahead – including in the realms of commerce, education, diplomacy, security and geopolitics. Some of these issues will require complex negotiations between the United States and India, but others are easier and could be advanced relatively quickly.


For example, the U.S. should work with India to include Indian parliamentarians and members of the United States Congress in the next round of the United States-India Strategic Dialogue. While the dialogue was smartly spearheaded under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it is now time to take the next step and include elected officials on both sides of the aisle in order to strengthen cooperation and deepen our relationship beyond the State Department/Foreign Ministry level.


And, as U.S. Senator Mark Warner has rightfully pointed out in his call for a 100-day plan to invigorate ties between the U.S. and India, it is time to elevate the U.S.-India defense partnership through the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative. Our nations have many common interests in the defense sector, including working to improve our shared security cooperation, as well as ensuring India has the tools and capacity it needs to meet its defense needs. Elevating this partnership is something that could be done in the short term.


We should also reiterate our intention to chart a path forward for India to assume its role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. With India comprising one-sixth of the world’s population, and possibly even becoming the world’s most populous country within a decade, it clearly makes sense for India to have a permanent seat at the world’s table.


I also believe there are common-sense steps India can take in the coming months. Indian companies are playing a greater role in the U.S. economy, employing Americans in industries from manufacturing to auto sales to services. India can do more to open its own markets to U.S. exports and investments, a move that I believe would benefit the Indian economy and increase American jobs. And, the numerous U.S. states that send delegations to seek investment from India can do more to profile these job-creating moves.


Finally, the U.S. should be doing everything it can to listen to India and remember our common history. Americans and Indians have much to learn from each other – after all, it was India’s independence movement that helped inspire America’s civil rights struggle, it is India’s culture that has contributed so deeply to modern America, it is Indian-American immigrants that play a leading role in all aspects of American life and society, and it is India that has made a number of adroit decisions in recent years, including maintaining growth in the face of economic headwinds.


Taking positive steps in the coming months is key, and more than possible to make it happen.


Congressman Joe Crowley is the eight-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives. He is the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans in the U.S. House of Representatives