Prime Minister Modi’s US visit from 7-8 June, 2016 marked his last bilateral meeting with President Obama at the helm of affairs and was thus followed closely. India Foundation along with Heritage Foundation co-hosted a panel discussion on the Strategic and Security outcomes of the Prime Ministerial visit with a strong focus on defence relations. The event was held on 9th June, 2016 at Washington DC.The panel comprised of analysts from the two countries and includedMr Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda (MP),Mr G. Parthasarathy (Former Ambassador of India to Pakistan, Myanmar etc.) and Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha (Retd) among others.
The inaugural address was delivered by Ms Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia. Ms Biswal laid emphasis on what she called the Modi doctrine, a term coined by her to refer to Prime Minister’s foreign Policy. She reflected on the fact that the Indo-US relationship could not be looked into only through the outcomes of this visit but one should look at the arc of the relationship. She recalled the efforts of previous governments in taking the bilateral relationship forward and termed India to be a key element of Obama Administration’s rebalanced Asia.
The Keynote addresses was delivered by Ambassador Arun Kumar Singh, Indian Ambassador to USA and Ambassador Richard Verma, US Ambassador to India. Both the envoys elaborated on different aspects of the bilateral relationship and termed the two nations to be natural allies. Ambassador Singh summed up the visit by highlighting the purpose to be of consolidation and celebration: consolidate what has been achieved, give it a momentum and celebrate all that has been done. He laid greater emphasis on growing convergence of interests among the two nations in the fields of defence production, cyber security, terrorism, trade and investment, renewable energy and science & technology which was hitherto an unexplored area. He spoke of the government’s progressive steps towards ease of doing business and the optimism surrounding the US Business community since 2014.
Ambassador Verma on the other hand elaborated on the growing defence partnership and traced the origin of Malabar exercise to a post -cold war meeting in 1992 and shared joy on India being a major defence partner of the United States. He went on to talk about the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and also about theMoUs signed during the visit.
Mr G. Parthasarathy in his intervention recalled the shift of nuclear technology from General Electronics to Westinghouse and touched upon India’s transition to a market economy, Look East policy and India-ASEAN relations. Mr Panda termed the visit seminal; one having a sustainable effect on future generations and informed the gathering of the progress in the ‘bilateral relationship being music to the ears of our South East Asian neighbours’.Vice Admiral Sinha spoke on the importance of having multiple pillars to support a bilateral relationship instead of the case resting on a single agenda and went on to analyse in detail various aspects of the defence relationship often quoting anecdotes from personal experience.