ii. It welcomed aid and support from both, eastern and western blocks, without being aligned with any one of them.
iii. Ideal of Democracy that have been cherished by both the countries.
iv. Frustrations due to debacle over Kashmir issues in U.N. where India expected US to support her.
v. Stand taken by the two countries on Korean Crisis (1950).
vi. Military alliances like SEATO and CENTO wherein Pakistan became a member.
Compromise and Conflicts:
While in the political field, there were serious differences between the two countries; United States continued to provide food grains, technical cooperation and aid to tide over mounting food-shortage. Under PL 480 programme, USA agreed to provide food grains against rupee payment. Even they provided money for atomic plant at Tarapore.
Following factors strained the bilateral relationship in 1960’s and 1970’s.
i. US bombing of North Vietnam (1965).
ii. War between India and Pakistan where US sided with Pakistan (1965).
iii. Tashkent Conference showed growing Soviet influence in the area and angered the Americans.
iv. Indo-Pak war (1971) where USA even threatened to enter Bay of Bengal with its own ships, against India.
v. Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation (1971).
vi. India’s peaceful Nuclear explosion (1974) at Pokhran.
vii. National Emergency (1975-1977) in India.
But, there was some respite in tension due to changed international climate; end of Vietnam War, detente between USA and Soviet Union. US Secretary of State’s (Henry Kissinger) visit marked some improvement. Soon it was strained due to India’s refusal to sign Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
During 1980’s despite change in leadership in both the countries and their (Indira Gandhi and Ronald Reagan) Endeavour to evolve friendly and co-operative relationship, there was serious differences on account of:
i. India’s stance on Soviet’s presence in Afghanistan.
ii. U.S. supply of arms to Pakistan.
iii. US refusal to supply fuel for Tarapore atomic plant on the ground of not being a signatory to NPT.
iv. Military base at Diego-Garcia and growing presence of USA in the Indian Ocean.
v. US’s threat to use Super 301 law for being unfair trade partner.
Big Leap Forward:
From 1990 onwards there was initiation of effort to improve relation between the two countries. While, USA acknowledged Pakistan’s aid to terrorism in India and softened its stance on Kashmir; India responded by providing strategic support in the Gulf war (1990-91).
The end of Cold war and disintegration of the Soviet Union further helped in strengthening this trend. But, some of the hitherto dormant issues came to the forefront and irritated the pace of cordial bilateral relationship. These includes
i. U.S.A’s insistence to India to sign NPT and refusing her plea of security threat from neighbours.
ii. Alleged violations of Human Rights by India in dealing with secessionist movement in Punjab and North East.
iii. Issues of democratization of UN, NIEO, nuclear disarmament etc.
The policy of liberalisation pursued by Indian Government was welcomed by American establishments. The democratic experience of the two countries and recognition of the role of the two countries in the emerging world order brought them together. Added to it was the declining geo-strategic significance of Pakistan and its proximity to China. Thus there emerged new areas of cooperation like,
i. Indo-US military exercises.
ii. Co-operation in Energy Sector.
iii. Widening the ambit of items of trade.
However, India’s opposition to NPT and CTBT and Pokhran Tests in 1998 aggravated the tension between the two countries. India, on its part continued to master international support by pointing out security threats from defence build up in neighborhood.
Growing terrorism in the region and China’s growing influence convinced U.S. of India’s compulsions. It became aware of the fact that India’s stands were necessary in her own national interest and stability in South Asian region. American insistence on CTBT was eased due to its rejection by American Senate.
The growing maturity and strength in Indo-US relationship received a thumping boost-up in President Clinton’s visit (2000).
He not only condemned the redrawing of borders with stains of blood (Chattis Singhpura massacre) but shared Indian concern that negotiations between India and Pakistan could not proceed without maintaining the sanctity of Line of Control (LOC).
The document “India-US relations: A vision for the 21st century” marked a watershed in the bilateral relations.
The September, 11 (2001) episode and declaration of war on global terrorism by America and its allies placed Indian concerns at the centrestage.
The two sides accepted that their deience and security cooperation is a necessity for promoting freedom, global peace, economic progress and security. Collin Powell (Secretary of State) during his visit to New Delhi (2002) held discussion in areas of military cooperation, energy, economic co-operation, science and technology etc.
In recent times, Condoleza Rice (Secretary of State) in her visit (2005) has made it clear that India has a major role to play in the emerging international situation. She has advocated constant US engagement with India to ensure stability, order and peace in this region as well as elsewhere.
The history of Indo-US relation reveals that despite a long period of scepticism and apprehension as regards the stance of one another, the two countries have been more accommodative of each other since 1990’s. Nevertheless, there remain some areas of tension which are likely to be irritant in future.
The two sides have entered into a nuclear deal after a gap of more than 30 years. India can buy nuclear fuel and advanced reactors from the U.S. India on its part have shown willingness to allow IAEA to inspect civilian parts of its nuclear programme.
In the field of defence, the two countries have shown keen interest in joint exercises of the forces.
An important agreement signed during the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Washington is between a consortium of 25 U.S. Universities and Amity University in India on using ISRO’s Edusat to bring to Indian students lectures and courses given by leading American professors. The issue of Iranian gas pipeline continued to chill the prospects of talks.
However, going forward the Bush administration assured India of maintaining the sanctity of Line of Control (LOC). Besides, the two sides showed interest in combating the HIV/AIDS, providing disaster relief measures and resources etc.
Problems and Prospects of Indo-U.S. Relations:
i. Issue of India’s signing the CTBT: For the time being, U.S. is unlikely to force India to ) sign the treaty because of its engagement in Iraq and war on terror etc. Even India can think of signing it after acquiring minimum Nuclear Deterrence.
ii. Issue of India’s membership in UN Security Council: The big powers led by US are likely to allow membership to other countries and even India but without veto power. India can lobby with third world countries and other new entrants either for abolishing veto power or entrusting it to every permanent member. If done otherwise, it is tantamount to the principle of equality and democratisation of the world body for which India stands.
iii. Military deal between Pakistan and U.S.: India should realize that it cannot benefit from assertive posture against defence deals between US and Pakistan. A sizeable section of American power elite requires market for the defence product and Pakistan is a lucrative outlet. Moreover, US in its Osama hunt cannot sideline Pakistan. It is also beneficial in India’s interest that Pakistan remains under the American control. For, military, ISI, fundamentalist may endanger the prospects for peace in the region. Instead, India should build its relationship on its own ground and stature that has been increasingly becoming significant in Indo-U.S. ties.
iv. As regards multilateral agencies like IMF and WTO, India and U.S. can come into confrontations. For, protectionist measures, patent laws, etc tilt is in favour of U.S. business establishment. But, India can hope to benefit by widening its coordination with newly emerging economic giants.
v. In geo-strategic calculations the two countries interests seem to be converging on account of culturally diverse countries with democratic institutions. Their socio-economic milieu and ethical perception are likely to stimulate foreign policy orientation that remains committed to Democracy as an Ideal.