- The friendship between the two countries stands as a bulwark against the enemies of individual freedoms, human rights, rule of law, and is a testament to the power of shared values, collaboration, and mutual respect.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India for a State visit to the United States, which will include a state dinner, on June 22, 2023. The upcoming visit will affirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India and the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together.
The friendship between India and the U.S. is a critical matter not just for world peace but for all Indian Americans. For many of us Indian Americans, India is our janma bhumi, the land of our birth and upbringing. while America is our karma bhumi, the land which allowed us to enhance and grow our abilities to attend physical and financial success. Both are very dear to us, one giving rise to us and the other allowing us to rise.
When it comes to the relationship between India and the United States, the bond forged between these two nations goes beyond mere diplomatic ties. Rooted in shared values, democratic principles, and mutual respect, the friendship between India and the U.S. has grown steadily over the years, evolving into a strategic partnership that benefits both nations and influences global affairs. Long before any Swamiji from India came to the U.S., one of America’s most influential and original thinkers, Ralph Waldo Emerson was subtly inserting the extracts of Hindu philosophy drawn from the Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata, and Ramayana. into the tapestry of what became the quintessential American thought.
Ghadar (mutiny) Party which left an indelible mark on India’s freedom movement was born in San Francisco. It was partly guided by revolutionary ideals that permeated American institutions such as UC Berkeley, which was attended by many of the Indians who were a part of that organization. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. shared ideologies of peace, equality, and justice. The admiration for their struggles against colonialism and racial discrimination laid the groundwork for a lasting bond.
In recent decades, cultural connections have further strengthened friendships. The Indian diaspora in the U.S. comprising millions of individuals, has made significant contributions to various fields, fostering a deep appreciation for Indian culture, traditions, and values.
Economic Collaboration and Trade
India and the U.S. have witnessed remarkable growth in economic collaboration and trade. Bilateral trade between the two nations has surged, creating jobs and boosting economic growth. The U.S. is the largest trading partner of India, worth $67.41 billion, accounting for 11.98% of India’s total trade. As per U.S. Census data, India-U.S. trade in the calendar year 2021 reached around $113 billion. The U.S. is India’s 4th largest crude oil and 2nd largest LNG supplier. The establishment of the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in 2015 and the signing of the U.S.-India Bilateral Investment Treaty further demonstrate the commitment to expanding economic ties and promoting mutual prosperity.
India and the U.S. share a robust strategic partnership built on common security concerns and shared democratic values. Both nations have cooperated closely on counterterrorism, defense, and intelligence sharing. Regular high-level visits, joint military exercises, and defense agreements have further deepened defense ties. The Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, signed in 2008, marked a significant milestone in the strategic relationship, fostering collaboration in the field of nuclear energy and strengthening non-proliferation efforts. The Joint Working Groups on Counterterrorism and Designation Dialogue were held in Washington D.C. on October 2021. Both sides are also working together on issues related to designation in the UN.
Collaboration in Science, Technology, and Innovation
India and the U.S. have leveraged their scientific and technological prowess to collaborate on various research and innovation initiatives. Partnerships between Indian and American universities, scientific institutions, and industries have led to advancements in sectors such as space exploration, information technology, healthcare, and renewable energy. Joint initiatives, such as the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, have facilitated exchange programs, research collaborations, and knowledge sharing, fostering a spirit of innovation and progress. ISRO and NASA are working together to realize a joint microwave remote-sensing satellite for Earth observation. S-band SAR from ISRO was delivered to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in May 2021 and the integration activities with NASA’s L-band radar are going on.
There is longstanding collaboration in the health sector. Scientists from both countries have been working together to develop new therapeutics and diagnostics. The collaboration under Vaccine Action Program (VAP) resulted in the development of the ROTAVAC vaccine against rotavirus which causes severe diarrhea in children. The vaccine developed by an Indian company at an affordable cost was introduced in the Expanded Program on Immunization. There are more than 200 active collaborations between the U.S. National Institutes of Health network of labs and leading research agencies in India, to deliver affordable healthcare solutions. India supplies about 40% of generic formulations marketed in the U.S. Indian pharma companies have manufacturing locations in about 14 locations in the U.S.
People-to-People Exchanges and Cultural Diplomacy
About 4.2 million Indian American/Indian origin people reside in the U.S. People-to-people exchanges play a vital role in nurturing the friendship between the two countries. Educational exchanges, cultural events, and tourism have facilitated a deeper understanding of each other’s societies, traditions, and values. The Fulbright Program, which promotes academic exchange, events like the annual India Day Parade in New York City, and programs like Sewa Diwali which donated 1,415,766 lb of nonperishable food to underserved communities in the U.S. showcase the rich tapestry of Indian values, culture, and its assimilation into American society.
The friendship between the people of India and the U.S. stands as a bulwark against the enemies of individual freedoms, human rights, rule of law, and is a testament to the power of shared values, collaboration, and mutual respect. While there may be occasional disagreements, the commonalities in their founding principles and guiding philosophies create a strong bond that transcends temporary geopolitical situations. The official state visit next month will further cement this unassailable bond.
Mandar A. Pattekar MD is a retired physician, community organizer, and a volunteer Hindu spiritual care provider.