From Strategic to Absolute Partners: Prospects for US-India ties in 2022


Research Fellow and Centre Coordinator East Asia Centre The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi Dr. Jagannath Panda

Ties between partner states India and the US, have long tethered a continental connect between the Asian and American sub-continent. The two countries have emerged as strong status-quo powers with shared adversaries, ideologies and outlooks vis-à-vis the future of a rules-based international order and the promotion of multilateralism. The arrival of a new US administration under President Joe Biden at the beginning of 2021 has offered new opportunities and challenges for India-US ties, posing a question: how will this relationship evolve within the Indo-Pacific in times to come? Will it simply maintain the status-quo between the two sides, or evolve to embrace new realities and move towards imbibing a partnership of substance, resulting in a full-fledged alliance?
Symbiotic/Natural partners
As the worldʼs oldest and largest democracies respectively, national leadership and governmental juxtaposition greatly shapes the foreign policy outlooks of both countries. In this regard, as Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar highlighted in his book, India managed to largely survive unharmed during the Trump era of US foreign policy, as it was “fortunate in being neither” an ally that disappointed Washington nor a competitor that threatened it. Ties between the two were even upgraded to a ʻComprehensive Global Strategic Partnershipʼ in 2020. The September 2021 held first in-person meeting between Joe Biden and Narendra Modi further consolidated this vision into “A Partnership for Global Good”
Significantly, the main agendas for the India-US partnership at present have been distinguished as building a strong strategic association, furthering the Quad, improving their trade and economic ties keeping in mind the pandemic and enhancing their democratic interface by means of expanded peopleto-people cooperation. Ultimately, both sides are focused on building the post-pandemic order and finding common ground in the vision to handle a revisionist China. Reinforcing bilateral ties to enhance the security of the Indo-Pacific region is rapidly turning into the highpoint of India-US collaboration.