The Strategic Context of Evolving Indo-US Ties
To be published in Satish Kumar, ed.,
The arc of US-India engagement, for conceptual clarity as well as
analytical simplicity, can be delineated into three successively larger
concentric circles: “inner-most” or
US relations with
In a longitudinal sense,
There were varied reasons for this gradual shift. In the
In this context, two elements with long-term bearing upon
At the risk of over-simplification, one can state that in South Asia,
where significant US economic interests are not
at stake, the Democratic party - on balance - has accorded primacy to the
non-proliferation agenda (both nuclear and missile). This was fairly visible in
the style and substance of
The Republican administration, under the stewardship of George W.
Bush, has attempted to situate its policy toward
The other element of long-term bearing upon
A few days before the attacks, on September 1, the US State Department
had placed China Precision Machinery Import- Export Corporation (CPMIEC)
However, in the aftermath of 9/11, all major US sanctions against
Nevertheless, as stated at the outset, it is critical to underline
that 9/11 has not meant a return to the earlier zero-sum approach in
To be sure, there is a common agenda of what the United States seeks in its relations with both Pakistan and India over the longer term. This includes various items on the non-proliferation agenda (ranging from CTBT and FMCT, to strengthening dual-use export controls, and materials protection, control and accounting or MPC&A in civilian nuclear facilities); the doctrinal and operational aspects of nuclear and missile development & deployment; command & control issues; safety & security of weapons-related installations, and, of course, de-escalation of tensions and an enduring solution to Kashmir. However, beyond this common agenda, the ambit of US interests in Pakistan diverges considerably from its interests in India.
War on Terrorism - Central and West Asia
The overriding US goal in engaging Pakistan post 9/11 is to systematically eliminate all future threats of extremism emanating from its soil, or by its actions or influence elsewhere, that can threaten US territory, assets or forces abroad. In this context, securing control of part of the Pakistani military base in Jacobabad for the US Air Force and building a US base in Sargodha, indicate the serious commitment of long-term US presence in Pakistan to pursue the above aim. Similarly, the decision to build military bases in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan underscore US intent to purge the threat of extremism to its national security from Pakistan as well as Central Asia. An allied US goal is to ensure that the custody of Pakistani nuclear facilities, or indeed the area around these installations, does not fall into physical control of the jehadis or elements sympathetic to that cause.
Public support for Musharraf, according to the US assessment, serves several purposes in pursuit of the above goal. For one, it sends a strong signal to the corps commanders, Army GHQ, ISI and other elements of the Pakistani military leadership that Musharraf is “untouchable,” in order to ward off any coup attempts against him. For another, the quid pro quo expected is that in return for this show of public support, alongwith economic bailout packages and other assistance, Musharraf will incrementally cleanse the domestic polity of elements inimical to US interests.
A second set of US objectives is to enlist cooperation from Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in severing the intricate horizontal, often vertical, linkages between extremist outfits across Central Asia. In this context, the US government closely monitors the statements and actions within the “Shanghai-Five,” comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrghistan and Tajikistan. In 2001, Uzbekistan was added as the sixth member, and Shanghai-Five was re-named Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It is understood that both India and Pakistan had expressed interest in joining the SCO but no knowledge of any formal discussion on this matter is available in the public domain.
In the post-Cold War period, Central Asia has been plagued with the menace of drug-trafficking, illegal small arms trade and religious extremism, and their growing inter-linkages with elements across West Asia, the Caucasus, as well as South Asia. Indeed, in recent years, strategic analysts have noted the growing economic dimensions of the demand for the independence of Kashmir. Such analyses note a dangerous trend emerging in the drug trafficking business, one that attempts to connect the “Golden Crescent” (comprising Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) to the “Golden Triangle” (comprising Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam). This is sought to be done via the disputed territory of Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, in order to link the two drug markets that, alongwith the illegal small arms market, are collectively estimated at around $6 billion annually.
Given the harsh terrain and fragile economies of the Central Asian states, exploration of the considerable energy assets located on their territories would improve their economic prospects and might dampen the impulse for greater violence. However, in all scenarios of exploration and transportation of oil and natural gas from this region, whether through inter-state highways or over-land pipelines, cooperation of relevant state parties would be paramount. This is yet another reason for greater policy coordination to address the principal economic and political underpinnings of terrorism in the region. For all of the above reasons, the United States is likely to remain engaged with Pakistan and the Central Asian states, and the shadow of this engagement will fall upon its relations with India, but not necessarily in negative ways.
This section summarizes the key conclusions for India that devolve from the preceding analysis. The foremost set of derivatives relates to Kashmir. The Indian strategic policy community needs to recognize that assistance from the United States on the Kashmir issue is unlikely under the present circumstances. For one, the US side will not be prepared to place additional pressure on Musharraf to end all material and moral support to the insurgency in Kashmir. Such a demand might upset Musharraf’s precarious equilibrist act and endanger larger US interests vis-à-vis Afghanistan and Central Asia. Second, given how loath New Delhi is to any third-party mediation regarding Kashmir, it should only expect private US admonishment to the Pakistani leadership for abetting cross-border insurrection. At the same time, other means to enhance Indian national technical means (NTMs) should be pursued, such as the April 2002 purchase of 8 weapon locating radars (AN/TPQ-37 Firefinder manufactured by Raytheon Co.). This, alongwith the excellent progress within the US-India Joint Working Group (JWG) on Counter-Terrorism, particularly intelligence-sharing since 9/11, should be continued. This bilateral exercise has already improved US understanding of the problems encountered by India in containing the cross-border component of the problem in Kashmir.
But third and most important, New Delhi must expend all appropriate resources to improve administrative autonomy within J&K, reduce human rights violations, and seek a final solution to the problem at the earliest possible date. To begin with, the Indian government has done a truly inadequate job in articulating the legal and factual realities of the Kashmir conflict, particularly to American and international audience. In this context, there is a crucial need for GOI (government of India) to prepare and widely distribute a concise Position Paper on Kashmir that details the inadmissibility of the plebiscite argument that Pakistan has raised so successfully in international fora, as well as related issues.
Moreover, it is increasingly clear that use of force to redraw the existing boundary in Kashmir (meaning other than the CFL/LOC/IB) will not be tolerated by the international community, and no other viable avenue to redrawing the boundary remains. The inescapable conclusion from this is that the eventual solution of the boundary lies in the political domain, and at “LOC or thereabouts” (details to be worked out between working groups of India and Pakistan). It is time the political leadership makes a sustained attempt to generate national consensus around the final settlement of Kashmir, and accordingly take a pro-active approach on the matter. A reactive approach, in the face of relentless Pakistani use of international media, is unhelpful and ultimately sterile.
The Indian strategic community must also marshal its resources to complement the task of generating a consensus. Additionally, it should recognize the crucial distinction between the “all or nothing” approach on Kashmir by Pakistan’s ruling leadership versus the mature analysts in Pakistan’s public policy discourse. The latter are genuinely concerned with the human rights abuses in Kashmir and seek greater political representation and economic opportunities. Therefore, the Indian strategic community should build pressure on GOI for genuine devolution of economic and political rights to the people of Kashmir, and hold it to a higher standard of transparency and accountability in its governance of Kashmir. This approach would complement the growing voice from the Pakistani side, and hasten the process of “negotiated settlement.”
Finally, it should stress that in this “war of attrition,” both Pakistan and India suffer, although the consequences on Pakistan are far greater and more damaging. But the net consequence of leaving this problem unattended is the growing polarization of Hindu-Muslim sentiments in India, as evidenced by the riots in Gujarat in March-April 2002, and the damage to the Indian secular fabric, especially in the external judgment. This implies that until Kashmir festers, non-proliferation and deployment-related issues will continue to cast a long shadow over the positive agenda of US-India engagement. Further, the unsettled Kashmir dispute will remain like an albatross around the neck of Indian aspirations, and greatly circumscribe its options to emerge as a strong actor on the Asian stage and beyond.
China, fast emerging as the preeminent economic and military power in Asia, with or without its assistance to Pakistan’s military capability, remains a crucial variable in the US decisional calculus as it calibrates its policies toward India. At the same time, the sum and substance of the Sino-US engagement offers valuable lessons for India in crafting its own policies vis-à-vis both these countries. A brief review of important developments in Sino-US relations in 2001 would help illuminate this point.
On the economic front, after a fractious debate, the US Congress finally approved the PNTR (Permanent Normal Trading Relations) for China in mid-2001. This was followed by energetic diplomacy by Robert Zoellick (United States Trade Representative or USTR) to reconcile crucial differences between the Chinese and US stances before the formal meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Doha in November 2001. US lobbying assisted the process of China finally becoming a full-member of the WTO.
On the security front, serious problems with China persisted, especially relating to non-proliferation and export of US satellites to be launched aboard Chinese rockets. The latest round of policy debate began with the assurance from President Zemin to Secretary of State Powell in Beijing in June 2001 that “China will adhere to the letter of the MTCR regulations.” In August 2001, a US delegation led by acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Vaan Van Diepen, met with Chinese counterparts in Beijing to discuss China’s record of compliance stemming from its pledge regarding missile non-proliferation in November 2000. The meeting did not yield any tangible “breakthrough”, and the US ban on granting fresh quotas for the launch of its satellites aboard Chinese launchers has continued since a Chinese Long March rocket placed two satellites into low-earth orbit for the Iridium communications venture in June 1999. Additional problems in bilateral negotiations include need to improve Chinese track record of arms sales, and formally incorporating of new dual-use export control guidelines into national law as promised in the White Paper on “China’s National Defense” (Zhongguo de Guofang) of 2000 and reaffirmed in October 2001.
In sum, the overall US approach reveals a multi-layered and multi-pronged strategy of drawing China into a web of multilateral economic and security institutions. The expectation of this approach is that it would make China an increasing stakeholder in the stability of the international system, and proportionately circumscribe its latitude as well as propensity for unilateral policy activism that could undermine Asian and international security in the period ahead. This approach reflects the optimum compromise in US policy debate between the “engage China” versus the “confront China” schools of thought. It also explains the elusive consensus regarding the politico-strategic interpretation of the intent and direction of Chinese “grand strategy” in the near to intermediate term.
During the same period, Sino-Indian relations have also undergone a qualitative shift, and a more multi-dimensional profile of bilateral engagement has gradually emerged. The most notable development is within the auspices of the Peace and Tranquility Agreement (PTA) of 1993, wherein nine rounds of talks have resulted in some progress regarding clearer demarcation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), no new troop deployments along the LAC, and a host of military-technical and wider confidence building measures (CBMs) detailed at the command levels. The latest round of talks was in March 2001, in the wake of Premier Li Peng’s visit in February, and for the first time involved exchange of maps, with interest enunciated to settle the dispute in the (least contentious) “middle sector” of the LAC.
This is in addition to concluding bilateral agreement with India regarding China’s entry into the WTO, increased economic cooperation, invitation to Indian Information Technology (IT) professionals to develop the Xin Jiang province, port calls by ships at each other’s ports, and more. Further, PLA’s pursuit of force modernization has led to discussions exploring technical collaboration on a range of subjects. This was part of the meetings in April 2001 during the visit to China of a high-ranking Indian delegation led by Lt. General Kalkut, C-in-C Eastern Command.
In light of the above description, what are the key implications for India in crafting its policies toward China, and the intersection of US and Indian interests vis-à-vis China? The foremost implication is that India ranks far below China in the relative “weight” of its relations with the United States according to almost all key indices of economic and military capability. The volume of two-way trade between China and the United States (far in excess of $100b) versus that with India (barely $20b), to cite just one point of comparison, underscores this difference. Although structural problems make accelerated Chinese economic growth a questionable proposition, the net implication for India is the obvious need to sustain its reforms and accelerate the economic growth, alongwith enhanced economic interaction with China and major international powers. In the final analysis, substantial economic stakes will be an important hedge against adversarial Sino-Indian relations, while also improving the prospects for greater US and international attention to the Indian position on contentious issues in the Sino-Indian dyad.
The second set of implications emerges from evaluating the Chinese response to 9/11 and the threat of terrorism within its own territory. China has long been concerned with the separatist movement by the Uighur Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang province. Similar concerns influence Beijing’s policies in responding to Muslim protests in the eastern Shandong province (supported by Hui Muslims from the nearby Hebei province), or in the southern Yunnan province where China fears the spread of Islamic militancy from Southeast Asia. At the same time, China is deeply concerned about growing US military presence in Central Asia, and the April 2002 visit by President Zemin to Iran, Libya, Nigeria and Tunisia, in part, revealed efforts to counter this influence, in addition to improving relations with nations outside the US circle of friendly Islamic states.
It is instructive that immediately following attacks on US targets, China closed its borders with Pakistan, and re-opened it two days later only in one direction – to allow those who wished to go to Pakistan from China, but not the other way around. This suggests that despite all other forms of support to Islamabad, Beijing would be loath to pursue any policies that might endanger the internal stability of China. This shared sense of “vulnerability” represents an important avenue for India to enhance cooperation with China regarding counter-terrorism, and an important leverage in persuading Beijing to “adjust” its policy of assisting Islamabad with the tools that could bring further instability to the entire region, and not just India. If executed with care, such Indian policy could receive valuable, if muted, support from Washington.
The third set of derivatives relates to the need to chart a pragmatic course on the security front. The official policy and the strategic discourse should be neither apologetic about, nor get carried away, in the articulation and implementation of the intent to establish a “credible minimum deterrent” against all future nuclear threats. It needs to be further clarified that while the program is not “open-ended,” it nevertheless provides an additional tier of deterrence in the event of escalating conventional conflict. Such a pursuit derives from India’s sovereign right to make a technical assessment of threats to its national security, but is tempered with the obligations that devolve from the possession of such lethal capability.
The final set of derivatives relates to the growing US-Indian security cooperation. In this context, two important elements need special mention. One relates to the Bush administration’s decision to proceed with the development and eventual deployment of a National Missile Defense (NMD), and its theater-variant in Japan, and possibly South Korea and Taiwan. New Delhi must make clear to Beijing that if India were to deploy a few area-wide defenses to safeguard its select land-based WMD installations, that would scarcely erode the overwhelming numerical and qualitative supremacy of China’s arsenal. Indeed, only if China responds to the TMD deployments in Southeast Asia through a major offensive missile build-up, that India would be forced to accelerate its offensive missile program, leading perhaps to Pakistan following suit in the much-argued domino effect scenario.
The second element relates to the fact that an influential segment within the Republican administration shares the Indian “uncertainty” regarding the intent and future course of China’s strategic policy. This overall vision accordingly recommends a US approach of building strong bilateral relations with Russia, Japan and India, among others. It believes in remaining deeply engaged with China, but not subsidizing its rapid ascent to a position from where it can undermine US goals of maintaining regional security and stability. This “resonance” with an important viewpoint in the US discourse permits India the scope to clarify to the latter its concerns stemming from the Chinese activities in Myanmar and Tibet, force modernization of PLA Navy,  and continued support to insurgency movements within the vulnerable Indian northeast. For its part, India should maintain and enhance surveillance from the Tri-Service Command in Andaman Islands, and monitor developments following Pakistan’s first naval exercise with Bangladesh in 2001.
Russia’s eclipse as a dominant actor on the international stage notwithstanding, it will continue to factor heavily in almost all US-Indian military/strategic decisions into the foreseeable future. Putin’s Russia is trying to perform a delicate “equilibrist” act, carefully balancing its relations with all major powers and with India. In this context, its dialogue with the United States comprises weapons dismantlement and defense conversion, safety and security of weapons stockpiles, well-being of skilled manpower, treaty/memoranda-based link between NMD-TMD versus ABM-START, strategic forces modernization; scope of CTR-based assistance; Russian arms sales and defense cooperation with Iran and India, and the JWG on counter-terrorism and on energy exploration in Central Asia and the Caucasus. This “mix” of economics, diplomacy and strategic interests is also present in Russia’s dialogue with West Europe/EU, Japan, China and India. The “litmus test” of success of this policy would be if Russia’s economic revival is accomplished without markedly shrinking its diplomatic status or security ties in Asia and beyond.
The strategic import of the above is to indicate the strategic bandwidth within which Russia’s interactions with India are likely to be situated. The foremost observation in this context is that Indo-Russian military-technical cooperation (MTC) has evolved from being a combination of Indian needs and Soviet/Russian capability to one of growing Indian clout and pragmatism and enhanced Russian “supplier’s dependency syndrome.” Currently, nearly 75% of Indian armed forces hardware is of Soviet/Russian origin, and Indian imports account for about 35% of all Russian exports, keeping nearly 800 defense enterprises in that country in operation. Nevertheless, the scope and character of Indo-Russian engagement is likely to be severely tested in the coming years although it will remain an important one for each side. Indeed, this was reiterated by Mr. Jaswant Singh during his visit to the United States in April 2001, including at his meetings at the Pentagon relating to the resumption of dialogue on Indo-US defense cooperation.
The first set of derivatives from the above relates to the implications of incremental US-India defense cooperation upon India’s MTC with Russia, currently slated to run until 2010. For one, the current domain of US-India cooperation is confined to complementing and supplementing, not replacing, the massive spectrum of Indo-Russian MTC - a situation that is unlikely to change over the next decade. In part, this stems from the limited success of the DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) in augmenting its indigenous production base and capacity. But an equally significant reason is that India and Russia are seeking to enhance the scope and scale of cooperation by entering into newer areas of technology collaboration and co-production of weapons systems and components, some of which would be simultaneously inducted into the armed forces of each side. This is notwithstanding recent Indian moves to diversify its weapons procurement from France, UK, Israel and South Africa.
The second derivative relates to the extent of technology transfers and co-development permissible in Indo-US defense cooperation. Given the decades of embargo-driven US approach to India, and the hesitant steps toward initiating cooperation, any prospects for a technology-embedded framework of bilateral cooperation that would be acceptable to each side are extremely limited. By contrast, Indo-Russian cooperation traverses an impressive gamut that a few examples could help illustrate. One relates to phased upgrading of 40 Sukhoi-30 multirole aircraft to MKI specifications, after which licensed production of 140 more Su-30s in India will begin. This was finalized in December 2000 in a deal worth over $3b, and includes transfer of the advanced “AL-31fp” thrust-vectoring engines. Russia has not agreed to a similar licensed production of the older Su-27s in China despite selling 100 of them in a deal finalized in 1999.
Another example relates to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). After the May 1998 nuclear tests suspended Indo-US collaboration, MiG-MAPO agreed to assist India in the improvement of the avionics, among others, for this fly-by-wire aircraft whose technology-demonstrator (LCA-TD1) conducted its first successful flight in March 2001. The purchase of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, in a deal worth about $1.8 b, will include a batch of MiG-29Ks. The redesigning of the platform for the take-off of these fixed-wing aircraft, as well as modification of their weaponry, is being undertaken jointly. Russia is assisting India build its own nuclear submarine, currently designated as Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV). It is also believed to be assisting India’s plans to acquire a brown/blue water capability, including designing the containment vessel to house the on-board nuclear reactor, and improving the underwater launch of a tactical-range missile from aboard this submarine.
A third and crucial set of derivatives relates to “bridge technologies” to diversify Indian defense procurements. As India moves into longer-term MTC with Russia, including significant R&D collaboration, its procurement and technological base is becoming even more dependent on the solvency and viability of the Russian industrial base. Proportionately, this circumscribes the Indian search for autonomy in defense production and limited pursuit of weapons exports. Clients for the latter, in particular, have weapons platforms that employ mostly Western components and technologies, making “integration” of Indian- or Russian-Indian exports that much harder.
For both these reasons, India has sought “bridge” technologies from Israel, France, England, and South Africa, among others. India would thus be very amenable to resumption of dialogue and advanced conventional weapons cooperation with the United States that were resumed in late 2001 within the institutionalized framework of the Defense Policy Group and its subsidiary, Joint Technology Group.
A good example of current Indian efforts to integrate various technologies for meeting domestic specifications is in the pursuit of area-wide defenses. India had originally sought a battery of six S-300 systems from Russia, but will now purchased the more advanced Antey-2500 system. On the other side, it entered into negotiations with Israel regarding the Green Pine radar and the Arrow anti-missile missiles. According to information available in the public domain, Indian scientists are working with Russian and Israeli counterparts to integrate the above systems with indigenous missilery to deploy an “open architecture” area-wide defense system. This would be hosted by the Antey 2500, using Green Pine as the surveillance radar, and Antey’s medium-range ATBM as the first line of attack against incoming missile, with the shorter-range indigenous SAM (Aakash) providing the second line of attack. If/when the longer-range Arrow is integrated into this system, it will provide the first line of attack (before Antey and Aakash). At a later stage, the domestic Rajendra will be inducted into this larger open-architecture system to serve as the surveillance and engagement radar for a more limited area protection.
During the latter half of the 1990s, India began an active effort to engage the countries of East and Southeast Asia. This engagement, dubbed as India’s Ostpolitik, has featured greater economic relations with Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia; better politico-strategic relations with Indonesia and Vietnam, and a broad range of contacts with Philippines and Taiwan. As part of the Council for Security Cooperation in Asia Pacific (CSCAP), India has provided technical training to young space scientists from a number of these countries, as well as diverse remotely-sensed data for commercial applications from its fleet of satellites. On another front, it has expressed interest in joining ASEAN and APEC, and participates actively as a “dialogue partner” of the ASEAN Regional Forum or ARF.
In September 2000, Indian naval ships (destroyer INS Delhi and corvette Kora) made port calls at Sasebo (Japan), Shanghai (China), and at Vietnam and Indonesia. During February 15-19, 2001, the Indian Navy hosted the International Fleet Review called “Bridges of Friendship” in Mumbai, in which over 20 countries including many from Southeast Asia participated. For about 5 years, the Indian Navy has conducted an exercise called “Milan,” aimed at cementing ties with neighbors in the Andaman seas. Naval ships and senior officers from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have participated in this annual event at Port Blair. One objective of Milan is to build bonds among the middle and senior level officers of the navies and look at the common problems at sea - pollution, piracy, congestion and even rescue operations. Indian ships made a port call at Pusan in North Korea recently. Finally, the Navy’s Far Eastern Command (created in 1998) has been upgraded to a Tri-Service Command that, with its base on the Andaman Island, gives its strategic proximity to Myanmar, China, Indonesia and Thailand.
In sustaining India’s economic growth, GOI rightly perceives countries in the Asia-Pacific region as potential sources of investment capital, as potential collaborators for joint development of products and technologies, and as expanding markets for Indian products and services. These concerted efforts have led to a tripling of ASEAN's total exports to India, from $1.48b to $5.36b (during 1996-2001), representing an annual average growth of 52 per cent. Further, strategic analysts increasingly see India’s naval capabilities as conducive to securing the sea-lanes of communication (SLOCs) and trade routes from the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia.
This broad-based economic engagement policy has led to India signing an accord with China in July 2000 to boost cooperation in IT and related areas. Similarly, the Kunming Initiative seeks regional economic integration between Eastern India, South Western China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, including building better road, rail and air links to facilitate trade and tourism among the four countries. On the other hand, on February 14, 2001, India “gifted” a 160-km Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road, to the government of Myanmar. The project, built at a cost of Rs. 90 crore and funded by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, was completed within 3 years, and will link Manipur in the Indian northeast to Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar.
These Indian efforts have a clear domain of “convergence” with larger US economic and politico-strategic interests in Asia-Pacific. One manifestation of this convergence is the February 2001 agreement under which India will provide escort to high-value US cargo, but might later provide protection for US and international shipping that passes through its territorial waters up to the Malacca Straits in southeast Asia, one of the busiest and least secure shipping lanes in the world. Another agreement permits the refueling of US ships at Indian ports, saving them a 1700km detour to Deigo Garcia. Additional agreements envisage protection against piracy, drug interdiction, search and rescue, and joint patrolling. The US Pacific Command envisages deploying of technical assets on Indian ships for improved coordination and sharing of responsibilities. In this context, the recent signing of the GSOMIA (Generalized Security of Military Information Agreement) has cleared the deck for training and conduct of joint operations. The lifting of US sanctions for the supply and servicing of Seaking helicopters is another significant indicator of this growing convergence.
The crucial import of the above is a clear synergy between US and Indian efforts at safeguarding their economic and strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific. Additionally, given China’s disputed claims upon the Spratly and Paracell Islands in South China Sea, enhanced Indian naval presence is seen as a stabilizing influence by certain Southeast Asian states.
The Outer-most Arc
An examination of India’s engagement with countries in the outer-most arc reveals an increasingly calibrated mix of economic, security, and politico-strategic policies. The salutary dividends of this overall approach signal both the growing pragmatism in India as well as the need to consolidate these accruals for the longer term. In this context, the biggest impediment to India’s aspirations resides in the domain of non-proliferation. To a large extent, India’s capacity for rapid economic growth, defense forces modernization, technology-embedded investment flows, and all-round development, is feasible with increasing integration into the global matrix of economic and security institutions.
Enhanced relations with the developed states in the outer-most arc are crucial in this regard, primarily to establish technology-embedded frameworks of cooperation. An inescapable inference from analyzing India’s engagement with these states is the extent of coordination, even subordination, of their policies to those of the United States. The latter enjoys a unique unipolar moment with its unsurpassed power and capabilities, and brings them to bear in shaping the international system. The bulwark of this system, at least the one with crucial reference to India, is the non-proliferation order. Accordingly, this section confines itself to a discussion of issues most relevant to US-India dialogue regarding non-proliferation export controls (NPXC).
During the Cold War, the single-minded US pursuit to deny all advanced technology to states (including India) that could serve as a conduit for the Soviet Union, reached the point where non-proliferation became the lens through which Washington perceived the state of Indo-US relations. The end of the Cold War has removed several problems in this regard. Nevertheless, one testament to the continued importance of export controls in Indo-US context is the fact that following the nuclear tests of 1998, the United States included it as one of the four benchmarks in its subsequent dialogue with India. Since then, bilateral efforts have traversed a good distance, with the two remaining US concerns being whether its technology could be diverted to military (WMD related) uses within India, and whether indigenously developed sensitive Indian technology could be exported, transferred, or smuggled to countries of US concern.
For the record, the Indian position vis-à-vis international agreements is that it has ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and in 1998 deposited a list of chemical weapons production sites to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague. Similarly, it has signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), and has been an Observer at the Australia Group (AG). Since 1998, it has sent representatives to outreach seminars organized by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), but remains outside the NPT, NSG, MTCR, and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
India has an extensive, long-standing and well-defined legal and procedural framework for export controls. In recent years, GOI has taken a number of additional steps to strengthen national export control regulations as also make the process more transparent to the domestic and international community. One such step is that classification of commodities and technologies has been progressively harmonized with EU classifications by revising the Indian control list (called “Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies” or SCOMET). As a rough index, the EU classification could be considered the median-point between the Indian and US systems. As such, harmonizing Indian control lists with EU classification facilitates trade with EU, while also making Indian control lists more familiar to the US side and more compatible with US expectations and procedures.
In addition, under the Indo-US MOU of 1995, GOI provides extra guarantees for the end-use and re-export of imports from the United States. Since 1999, the two countries have exchanged three delegations that have discussed bilateral cooperation on export controls. Indian delegations have expressed interest in adapting U.S. procedures and practices on training businesses regarding Internal Compliance Programs and automated licensing online.
In light of the above progress, most US concerns about diversion of technology, either to other countries or to WMD uses within India, can now be taken care of through specific agreements regarding re-exports and end-use verification. Accordingly, the most promising avenues of future US-India export control cooperation include more rigorous training of customs officials, establishment of exporter database, popularizing the need for internal compliance programs, and establishment of online procedures for processing export licenses. Regarding the last item, GOI has developed an Electronic Data Interchange, but its data-bank and functioning need improvement. Finally, the US side can provide much valuable assistance to India from its vast experience in promoting greater government-industry partnership, and in regulation of intangible technology transfers to and from India, especially as India is becoming a significant exporter of IT software and services.
In conjunction with the above, a related avenue of US-India engagement should be on practical steps required to “reduce the distance” between India and the four multilateral export control arrangements (MECA), i.e., NSG, AG, MTCR, and WA. A specific discussion about rapprochement with the four MECA is beyond the scope of this writing. However, two specific points indicate the need for the Indian policy community to examine them in greater earnest.
The first relates to nuclear energy. GOI has set itself the target of generating 20,000mW of electricity by 2020 to meet the growing domestic demand. Russia is building two 1000mw nuclear power reactors in Koodankulam which, added to existing domestic capacity, totals about 6000mW. Even if India is able to install additional indigenous pressurized water reactors (PWR), that appear to be working well by international standards, it will leave a shortfall of 6000-8000mW. This deficit represents an important opportunity for the United States.
Russian intent to build additional reactors is complicated by its obligations under the NSG (which it joined in 1992), that require the recipient country to place all its nuclear facilities under “fullscope safeguards” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since this would imply India placing its civilian as well as weapons-related facilities under international safeguards, GOI is understandably not prepared for this.
One modus vivendi being explored is for GOI to “island” all its weapons-related facilities, and place all civilian facilities under IAEA safeguards. The net consequence of this would be to place almost 90% of Indian fissile material under international safeguards, which should represent a significant step forward in promoting US non-proliferation objectives vis-à-vis India. It would also permit the United States to enter the lucrative market of building civilian nuclear power reactors in India. This represents a practical means of accommodating Indian needs and US stipulations regarding non-proliferation, although other viable alternatives might also exist.
The second point relates to India’s relations with international efforts to regulate missile/civilian space programs. The gains from joining the MTCR are dubious and require detailed analysis, but India should carefully evaluate the advantage of joining the “International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation” (ICOC) that is currently under review. The ICOC is not formally linked to the MTCR, but its draft document was adopted at the MTCR’s plenary session of September 2001 in Ottawa, Canada. Further, 78 countries participated in the February 2002 meeting aimed at exploring universal support for the draft document. In essence, this French-led initiative seeks to distinguish between space programs that produce space launch vehicles versus military missile programs. The aim is to provide technical guidelines to safeguard against inadvertent transfer of missile-relevant technologies, but not throttling cooperation between genuine civilian space programs of member countries. It is worth examining if membership in the ICOC would represent an optimum for India between joining the MTCR versus remaining a marginalized voice of dissent from outside the international efforts at regulating missile/civilian space programs.
Lalit Mansingh, India’s Ambassador to the United States, in a recent address mentioned that during the year 2001, more than 65 US officials of Assistant Secretary-level or above visited India, and vice versa. He added that this number of reciprocal visits was higher than for any year since India’s independence. This frequency of bilateral interaction does not ipso facto herald a higher plane of US-India engagement. Nevertheless, given the “crowded foreign policy agenda” of Washington, such sustained engagement at various levels and from across various government agencies does indeed reflect a maturing of US relations with India, which begins to resemble more closely the nature of US interactions with major countries in the world.
The preceding sub-sections have elaborated upon the specific implications of India’s relations with states in each of the three arcs, and their likely influence upon the template of Indo-US engagement. This concluding section makes a few generalized observations that might be of practical utility to future US-India interactions across a range of foreign policy and national security issue-areas. They are submitted for consideration by the policy-making as well as the strategic community in both countries, and derive from the distilled experience of interactions with each side. The first observation resides in the cognitive-psychological domain wherein each side is actually an inverted “mirror image” of the other, but has considered its position to be more righteous and moral than of the other side. This has resulted in senior policy actors from each side complaining that the other side adopts a “preachy” and “condescending” style in official parleys, and is eventually detrimental to progress. An apt analogy in this case would be the problem in tuning a radio, where unless one calibrates the frequency to the precise bandwidth, all one hears is static and not music or dialogue.
A second observation relates to the need to create new “win-sets” in bilateral dialogue. Each side has emphasized the “rightness” and “fairness” of its position but not paid adequate attention to how a reformulation of that argument might make it more acceptable to the other side. It should be stressed that regardless of the intellectual quality of one’s argument, unless the proposed solution has gains that each side values, neither would have a sufficient stake in ensuring that the agreement endures. This has greater relevance for the Indian side, which has far fewer resources and options than the United States.
A third observation, of added relevance to India, is the need for better coordination between the “top down” and “bottom up” approaches in influencing US policy. Not unlike other countries, if the United States is convinced that closer engagement with another country serves its vital national interests, it will seek to adjust those domestic regulations that might otherwise impede this process. Accordingly, Indian efforts should include making a persuasive case of the overarching strategic template where vital national interests of each side converge, in tandem with efforts focussed on individual issue areas. This approach is likely to complement the process within the United States to secure closer cooperation with India.
This effort could receive valuable support from the US House of Representative members who are part of the “Congressional Caucus on India.” If efforts to create a new “Friends of India” in the US Senate succeed, that body could also greatly augment this process. The growing economic success, political visibility, and energy of the Indian-American community could also assist in building stronger bilateral relations.
In sum, Indo-US relations in recent years have become multi-dimensional and multi-layered, which is a sign of growing maturity and pragmatism, although significant differences remain. The dominance of non-proliferation as a single-issue index for measuring the overall relationship has gradually given way to a more broad-based ambit of engagement. India has neither sought, nor should expect, a “full embrace” and total convergence of bilateral interests across all issue areas. However, as all mature states in the international system, it should seek cooperation in areas of mutual interest, and fully expect the United States to do the same in its own conduct. In the contemporary international environment of shifting priorities and fluid alliances, mutual gains and shared interests should determine the nature and scope of India’s relations with the United States.
 Dr. Anupam Srivastava serves as the Executive Director of the “India Initiative” of the University of Georgia, and of the South Asia Program of the University’s Center for International Trade and Security.
 India is regarded as one such pivotal state. See, Stephen P. Cohen and Sumit Ganguly, “India,” in Robert Chase, Emily Hill, and Paul Kennedy, eds., The Pivotal States: A New Framework for US Policy in the Developing World (New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999). See also, Michael D. Swaine and Ashley J. Tellis, Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future [Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2000].
 For a careful assessment, see Richard J. Ellings, and Aaron L. Friedberg, eds., Strategic Asia: Power and Purpose, 2001-02 [Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2001].
 For a detailed description of the military-industrial institutions and actors in China, see Evan S. Medeiros and Bates Gill, Chinese Arms Exports: Policy, Players, and Process, [Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Department of the Army], August 2000.
 It should be noted that while China is neither a member nor an “adherent” to the MTCR, it has nevertheless made an explicit commitment to abide by the guidelines of MTCR (first made in 1992). Further, since 2000, its official communiqués have enunciated efforts to incorporate changes into the domestic legislation in order to conform to the MTCR guidelines more closely.
 This sentiment has been expressed in off-the-record conversations of the author with several senior US government officials in recent months.
 For a good account, see Robert Karniol, “Shanghai Five in major revamp,” Jane’s Defense Weekly, June 23, 2001.
 Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui, “A CEO heads ISI set-up in Kathmandu,” The Times of India News Service, September 10, 2000.
 CFL stands for “Cease Fire Line,” LOC for “Line of Control,” and IB for “International Boundary.”
 For details on US satellite trade policy, especially regarding Russia, China and Ukraine, see Anupam Srivastava and Victor Zaborsky, “Balancing Trade and Security Imperatives: Implications of the New U.S. Satellite Export Policy,” Occasional Paper [University of Georgia: Center for International Trade and Security], November 2001.
 Ted Anthony, “U.S. Experts press Chinese counterparts on missile technology,” The Associated Press (Beijing), August 23, 2001. See also, “PRC Comments on Bilateral Talks,” Xinhua News Agency (Beijing), August 25, 2001.
 Sam Silverstein, “State Department Blocks Export of Sensitive Satellites to China,” Defense News, September 10-16, 2001, p.12
 Zalmay Khalilzad, et al, The United States and a Rising China [Santa Monica, CA: RAND,1999].
 For an incisive recent analysis of this theme, see Swaine, Michael D., and Ashley J. Tellis, Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future, [Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2000]
 “China calls for India's participation in development campaign,” Times of India, October 2, 2000. See also, “India, China sign IT accord,” The Times of India News Service, July 17, 2000.
 Ravi Visvesaraya Prasad, "Battle of the Mouse: Sino-Indian Cyber warfare capabilities compared," The Telegraph, March 20, 2001.
 See, for instance, Arthur Waldron, “China’s Economic Façade,” Washington Post, March 21, 2002, p. A 35.
 “President Jiang Visits Five Countries,” English People Daily, April 24, 2002 (www.english.peopledaily.com.cn)
 For one account assessing the net impact of TMD deployment in Asia, see Anupam Srivastava, “Understanding the NMD Derivatives for South Asia,” Bharat-Rakshak Monitor, 4:1, July-August 2001.
 For a detailed treatment of PLA’s force modernization, see Srikanth Kondapalli, China’s Military: The PLA in Transition [New Delhi: Knowledge World, 1999]. See also China, Nuclear Weapons, and Arms Control: A Preliminary Assessment, Chairmen’s Report of a roundtable sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Defense University, and the Institute for Defense Analyses (Co-chairs: Robert A. Manning, Ronald Montaperto, and Brad Roberts) [Washington, DC: Council on Foreign Relations, 2000].
 See, for instance, Jerome M. Conley, “Indo-Russian Military and Nuclear Cooperation: Implications for U.S. Security Interests,” INSS Occasional Paper 31, Proliferation Series, February 2000 [USAF Institute for National Security Studies, USAF Academy, Colorado]. See also, Igor Khripunov and Anupam Srivastava, “Russian-Indian Relations: Alliance, Partnership, or ?” Comparative Strategy, 18:2, 1999, pp. 153-172.
 For instance, Russia and India are working to develop the Brahmos, a supersonic cruise missile that will be inducted into their respective navies upon completion.
 In April 2002, Singapore and India completed the first-ever undersea cable link to promote e-business and telephony. The two sides are expected to build additional secure links in the future.
 India and South Korea are now co-convenors of the “Community of Democracy Initiative,” and Seoul will host the next meeting of the group in 2002.
 For a good coverage of this event, see Mrityunjoy Mazumdar, “International Fleet Review 2001,” Bharat-Rakshak Monitor, 3:5, March-April 2001. For a good account preceding the Fleet Review, see the special coverage in Indian Defense Review, 15(4), October– December 2000 issue, pp. 43-72.
 . “India, China sign IT accord,” The Times of India News Service, July 17, 2000
 Amit Baruah, “India, Myanmar road opened,” The Hindu, Feb 14, 2001.
 For details on this subject, see Seema Gahlaut, "Export Controls in India," in Michael Beck, Richard Cupitt, Seema Gahlaut, and Scott Jones, To Supply or To Deny: Comparing Nonproliferation Export Controls in Five Key States [Kluwer, forthcoming 2002]. For an earlier version, see Seema Gahlaut, “Export Control Developments in India: An Assessment,” 2001 Report [University of Georgia: Center for International Trade and Security].
 For an authoritative account on this subject, see R. Chidambaram, “Nuclear energy needs and proliferation misconceptions,” Current Science, 81:1, July 10, 2001.
 For a detailed treatment of this subject, see G. Balachandran, “Indo-US Technology Relations,” Report prepared for the National Institute for Advanced Studies, 2001.
 “Draft International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation,” Office of the Spokesman, U.S. Department of State, February 8, 2002.
 The Ambassador was addressing the leadership of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, April 4, 2002, but has made this assertion elsewhere as well.
 This has come across explicitly in numerous conversations of the author with senior echelons of US and Indian bureaucracy across the relevant agencies.