Libertatem Magazine

Indo – US defense and energy cooperation: Stepping stones towards maintaining friendly relations

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India and the U.S. bear a deep, intrinsic commitment towards maintaining social prosperity, global peace and spreading the non terrorism policy. Since independence, both the countries have regularly come on a common platform to ensure social security of the world at large and protect human rights of all people by signing various treaties and agreements for fulfilling their obligations towards the people of both the countries. On the invitation of the U.S. President Mr. Obama, Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Modi visited Washington D.C. on 7-8th June, 2016 and signed various treaties relating to energy, defence, security, economy and environment. [Ministry of external affairs, Government of India, Visit to Prime Minister to USA (June 7-8, 2016), May 20, 2016].

In November 2016, there would be presidential elections in the US and a new senate would be formed and hence, the countries are both in a rush to strengthen their relationship for achieving whatever more that could be accomplished. Through the defence treaty, both the nations recognized the threat which is being posed to the civilians of the two nations, and took a note of all the terrorist activities which took place from Pathankot to Dhaka. In order to render justice to the victims of such mass scale massacres, both the leaders felt the need for creating a common platform to share information relating to terrorists and to create a Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) which will share the said information with both the signatory countries, in keeping with their domestic laws and regulations with a view of eradicating and countering terrorism between the two countries. This agreement was proposed in 2012 by the U.S. but was subjected to opposition from security agencies, and after much deliberations and removal of difficulties arising from the agreement, India has finally entered it. U.S. had previously signed this treaty with 30 countries and had a database of around 11,000 terrorists which included finger prints (if any), nationality, date of birth, passport number, etc. Furthermore, both the countries are to appoint a nodal officer in their respective key intelligence agencies to be in touch with other fellow counterparts.

Being a participant of such an agreement, India would now have access to all the terrorist information which is being shared between the U.S. and the other countries. The need of the hour was to  enter into such a defense cooperation, since such type of agreements shall be ratified by majority of the countries to counter terrorist activities, in light of the constant terrorist attacks in and around the country like the one that happened in Phatankot air base, and the recent one in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In spite of knowing about such agreements and cooperations if a country is still not coming forward, joining hands and entering into such arrangements, it would be against all the martyrs and their families, and would do injustice to all those citizens who died in such attacks.

Moreover, this arrangement had been subjected to the domestic laws, which are prevailing in both the countries, in spite of the reluctance from the side of the U.S., considering the tough federal laws on data sharing and privacy, and the slight possibility of this agreement favoring the U.S. only. However, apart from all the considerations, there are certain risk factors associated with this agreement. After the expiration of tenure of the present government, there is no surety that the next government would abide by the agreement; and there is no centralized body to deal with cases of breach or dispute of agreement..

By the clean energy agreement, the U.S. and India intend to strengthen their trade in nuclear and solar energy. It is said that this agreement would be a game changer in determining the climate change of the world. Further, the U.S. would be supporting India’s mission of generating 175GW energy which, as of today, stands for 7.546GW by means of renewable energy by 2022 and out of which 100GW would be from solar energy. As this development involves a few thousand crores of rupees and the budget created for this segment is very low as far as the investment is concerned, the U.S. with other developed nations would be contributing $100 Billion towards this initiative. Moreover by this clean energy agreement, the U.S. would also promote research and advancement of Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE). Further, in the nuclear energy cooperation between the countries, the U.S. based firm Westinghouse has agreed to construct 6 nuclear power plant reactors in the country. In this agreement, an effort had been made to limit the spread the hydrofluorocarbons, greenhouse gases which have much more dangerous impact than carbon dioxide.

This agreement would be beneficial in many ways, first and foremost being that it would help in sustaining the environment from damage, while also generating employment, and bridging the gap between supply and demand to ensure uninterrupted supply of clean and cheaper electricity costs which in turn would open the doors for the external market to invest and would be an opportunity for the Indian market to expand globally. By sensitizing the need of establishing a market for generating energy through renewable sources, the Modi government has created the biggest single country renewable energy market in the world and has opened the doors for foreign investors to invest in the Indian market. It would lead to big changes in the international market and would balance the trade deficits and would earn foreign reserves. By all these treaties, agreements and cooperation, the existing government wants to maintain cordial relations with other developed nations in order to ensure faster growth mechanism.

Since, due to this MoU, many foreign developers had come to India for establishing the units for construction of solar power plants in India, there is also a possibility of exploitation of Indian market but contrary to it, the country would get cheap solar power plants, along with generation of employment, and an increase in foreign trade. As it is said that everything comes with a price, so in order to maintain bilateral relations, we need to let go of our resources.

All these efforts taken by the Modi government are in view of bringing electricity to the rural households, villages where people still dream of electricity, and to provide electricity to the places where only 6-8 hours of electricity per day is being supplied. The concept of smart cities propounded by our Hon’ble Prime Minister can only be fulfilled if 24 hours of electricity is being supplied.  Both the countries have made it clear that cooperation is needed from both the sides as the clean energy future is interdependent on other’s actions. This cooperation is not for the 125 Billion people of the country but for the whole of the world. India is the third highest emitter of carbon dioxide after China and the U.S. but the growth rate of emission from India is much more than the other two. So for the generations to live and reside in a clean and green environment, fulfillment of such an agreement is a must do job.

Since the last few decades, we are growing with the thought that India is a developing nation but no one has ever given thought to its conversion into a developed nation. By implementing and ratifying all these cooperations and arrangements, the government has contributed a great deal towards development, as by the deals both the countries recognize the need to create sources for generating renewable energy for saving all the natural resources that are limited in nature and would come to an end someday.

Moreover the U.S. wants to maintain friendly relations with India, as is highly predictable from all these bilateral agreements and the constant support shown for India while entering into the Nuclear Supplier Group and in Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Although no prima facie conclusion can be drawn for these treaties until and unless some actual and practical implementation is made, the author would like to state that in isolation nothing can be achieved and for the nation to develop and prosper, it needs to take support from other countries. It might be in terms of technology or in terms of investments, but no country is independent enough to accomplish all activities from sowing of seeds to making of nuclear weapons all by itself. Hence, it is never too late to introduce such arrangements.

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