HAVING weathered the storm of impeachment successfully US President Mr. Donald Trump is now embarking on an important two-day visit to India on February 24 to impart a new impetus to the already maturing relationship between the two countries. The visit also brings to fore the importance Mr. Trump attaches to closer relationship with India. This is in the light of the shifting paradigm in geopolitical configurations and the importance India is gaining in international relations. In recent years Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has established very close and personal relations with many world leaders, including Mr. Trump. The visit of Mr. Trump to India was long overdue as Mr. Modi had extended an invitation to Mr. Trump to be the guest at the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.
However, that could not materialise. But the forthcoming visit of the US President will be of immense significance for the both countries, mutually and internationally because that is expected to chalk out the roles the two countries will be playing in international affairs in the immediate future as well as on long term basis.
That Washington intends to forge closer relationship with India is made clear by the approval the Trump Administration has given to the deal for supply of USD 1.9 billion worth of Air Defence Weapon System to modernise the Indian armed forces and ‘expand air defence architecture’ to counter air attacks. Thus it could be considered as the forerunner of many more such deals for close cooperation in defence matters during Mr. Trump’s visit to New Delhi. Hitherto the US administration was reluctant to part with technologies. But things appear to be changing now as the US of late under Mr. Trump has shown willingness to be part of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ mission.
Under the changed perception American entities could be collaborating with Indian corporate houses and public sector undertakings to co-produce military hardware which will also mean technology transfer in critical areas of manufacturing. There were times when India was dependent largely on the erstwhile Soviet Union and now Russia for its military supplies with the US having hardly any share. But that has changed now, thanks to the Government’s efforts to diversify its sources of defence procurement. Over the last three-four years things have begun to change with Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump establishing close bonding.
This close bonding between the two leaders was discernible when the US-Iran conflict recently threatened to blow into a full-scale military conflagration but was defused with Mr. Modi appealing for circumspection on both sides. That shows the growing weight of the Indian Prime Minister’s word. With the emergence of China as the dominant force in world affairs as an economic and military power, in general, and Asia-Pacific region in particular, India has to gear itself up to meet the challenge of Chinese muscle power. The situation is getting even more competitive and combative in the Indian Ocean region with China making all out efforts to establish its dominance.
Its expansion in the states abutting the Indian Ocean is not just commerce. It has strategic importance as a counterweight to India. It is in the light of this new reality in the Indo-Pacific, Indian Ocean regions that gives significance to growing Indo-US relations. Expanding Indo-American ties, thus, have much larger bearing with the focus on the developments in India’s neigbourhood and what the future unfolds. With Sino-Indian relations being always in the realm of uncertainty India has to build its security apparatus as much as it can on a short and long term basis. The forthcoming visit of the US President to India could lay down the tracks for future cooperation in defence and trade.