Strategic high – on new heights in India-USA relation | 28th June 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the new heights reached in the India-US relationship against the backdrop of the recent Indian PM's visit to the USA.


  • GS2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests;
  • Essay;
  • Prelims


  • Recently, the Indian PM visited the USA.
  • This official visit took India and US relations to new heights in the present uncertain global world.


  • Close but not allies:
    • This high level engagement shows that the both sides want to propel their strategic cooperation to an unprecedented level, while staying short of turning treaty allies.
    • Why? Both countries want to maintain their strategic autonomy, especially India.
  • Big boost to technological cooperation:
    • It is announced that General Electric (GE) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will jointly manufacture F414 engines in India.
    • These engines will power India’s  indigenous Light Combat Aircraft MK2.
  • New height to defence ties:
    • Along with above joint manufacturing, India will also buy 31 high-altitude, long-endurance Predator-MQ-9B armed unmanned aerial vehicles.
    • Military cooperation between the two nations has been deepening in the recent past. India has bought from the U.S. the C-130 and C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, AH-64E Apache attack helicopters as well as CH-47 Chinook and MH-60R multi-role helicopters, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and M777 ultra light howitzers, among others.
    • This new jet engine deal is an investment in each other to address the shared security concerns, while continuing to navigate the disagreements.
  • Common or shared concerns:
    • China and its expansion in the Indo-Pacific.
  • USA’ goals:
    • The U.S. wants to wean India away from its defence partnership with Russia in the long term.
  • India’s perspective:
    • From a technological perspective, the newly announced joint initiatives in jet engine production, semiconductors and space technology present an opportunity for India to develop a defence industry of its own, and improve its technological competence across the board.

Way Forward:

  • India and the U.S. have already signed the four foundational agreements and regularly conduct joint military exercises.

Four foundational agreements: The United States enters into what is called ‘foundational or enabling agreements’ with its defense partners.

  • General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA):
    • It is the first of four foundational agreements signed by both the countries in 2002.
    • The agreement guaranteed that the two sides would protect classified technology that is shared between them and laid down the groundwork for further sale of US weapons to India.
  • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA:
    • It is a tweaked version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) specifically for India and was signed in 2016.
    • LEMOA allows both countries to replenish from each other’s designated military facilities.
    • This includes billeting, transportation, petroleum, oil, lubricants, food, water, clothing, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services, training services, medical services, and other logistical items and services.
  • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA):
    • This was signed in 2018 during the 2+2 ministerial meeting between the two countries.
    • It deals with secure military communication.
  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA):
    • This was the recent and the last of the foundational agreements that was signed recently during the 2+2 ministerial meeting.
    • The agreement allows both the countries to share all kinds of military information, for example, geomagnetic and gravity data, maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery.
  • While its embrace with the U.S. is getting stronger, deeper and more comprehensive, India is also cognisant of the need to maintain its strategic autonomy.
  • U.S. strategy at the moment is focused on creating a new bipolarity in the world, which India is not comfortable with. Getting caught in the power rivalries of others is the last thing that India wants, and the good thing is that the U.S. is increasingly aware of that concern.
  • India’s desire to protect its borders and sovereignty aligns with U.S. interests. This is a new era of mutual trust between the two countries, and it should act as a force for stability in the region.

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