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[RSTV The Big Picture] Modi, Trump talks: What does this mean to bilateral ties and Asia Pacific Security

Indo-US relations are indeed very complex but the 2+2 ministerial dialogue is good step forward & has to be sustained and deepened as it is the need of an hour.
By IT's Video Summary Team
August 29, 2017


  • Introduction
  • Significance & mutual benefit:
  • Background
  • What are India’s concerns?
  • What India resisted such kind of steps?
  • What India need to do?
  • What are the success of these kind of agreements done by other countries?
  • What India should keep in mind while dealing with USA?
  • Conclusion

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GS (M) Paper-2: “Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests”



  • India & USA to start 2+2 ministerial dialogue involving Defence & External Affairs Ministers of both the side for enhancing peace & stability across Indo-Pacific region.

Significance & mutual benefit

  • India has come a long way and is confident and aware of its interests and directions.
  • In the past India has got involved in such 2+2 dialogue with Japan & Australia but the timing and the initiative to announce this meet by USA becomes important.
  • It gives the important message as it is linked with Indo-pacific region and it also means that India intends both the sides to coordinate its foreign & security policies.
  • Todays India has the capacity that it can use USA to its own advantage.
  • China is a lesser problem in the western Pacific and far more important to India on its Northern & Western border.


  • The US strategic policies and goals are much clearer on the sea and growing in complexity which India is aware of along with its own interests.
  • Knowing its advantages India has opened up more with USA than in past including the naval exercise, Malabar Exercise being the most recent.
  • The American concerns are much larger and have certain vision for these region and certain ideas about India.
  • The Indo-US relation have gone through so many changes in strategic dialogues, and the administration have been changing the priorities due to which 2+2 is proposed.
  • India though being capable but has not resolved the structural issues in Indo-US relations which are fundamentally working well.
  • India’s strategic restrain has been commendable by acting responsibly and maturely which indicates huge confidence of India.
  • India has improved its critical relationship with Vietnam & Japan, by 2+2 treaty with Japan and by moving Brahmos and Prithvi Missiles into Vietnam.
  • These steps by India gave certain options which India never had earlier, & brought the relation closer with these two countries.
  • But if India wants to maximize its dividends it has to get structured and upgraded Defence ministry by integrating forces and ministry, and following critical recommendations of Kargil war.

What are India’s concerns?

  • Matter of concern is will USA focus on India’s western part as much as it focuses on Asia-Pacific region.
  • Its role with Pakistan, China & Pakistan-China nexus should be clear otherwise it will push India in the direction of supporting USA policies and interests in Asia-Pacific or Western Pacific region making it more beneficial to the US than to India.
  • The role of USA will get clear after its revised policy on the Afghanistan region giving some indication the way it wants to head with its relationship with Pakistan.
  • But the past experience shows that USA has not given the kind of support India need in its western region.
  • In Indo-US relations there has never been any lack of instruments and fora’s at any level but the problem is that nothing got progressed much as far as military is concerned.
  • The reason being Indian bureaucratic functioning, like no direct military links and interruption of ministries.
  • This way of diplomacy defeats the entire purpose of building up a relationship, creating frustration in the Military end of both the countries.
  • There is also a lack of larger vision in the interaction that has stalled strategic relations.
  • USA has not laid out their strategy with regard to the land, a frontier that India is having and the challenges faced.
  • On the contrary whatever signals India get from USA are problematic be it their relations with Pakistan, Taliban, Afghanistan, China and even Iran.
  • So, if India opens up to broad strategic dialogue then the consensus becomes necessary in the larger interests of both the countries.
  • USA can’t have a free hand in the region West to India as they have different interests and at times are not in convergence with India. So there has to be a balance maintained in these relations and such agreements.

What India resisted such kind of steps?

  • The USA was willing to take this step since long time but India resisted for it.
  • The reason behind this resistance is that the defence relation for USA is fundamentally transactional and not getting in convergence with India’s security priorities.
  • Hence India needs to be very very cautious and make sure that how Indian interests can be made paramount as it did in the nuclear deal.

What India need to do?

  • India will not be able to deal directly with bigger and powerfull state like China and USA will drag India in its game plan of Indo-Pacific region.
  • India needs the space and its sovereign stand as far as Afghanistan & Pakistan region is concerned.
  • It has its own role to play for Indian Ocean region & certain interests in Asia Pacific region due to India’s trade in that region, and guarding the sea line of communication of India is as critical as that of China or America or any other nation.
  • India needs to structure the relationship better as far as land borders and such strategic steps are concerned.
  • At first India needs to come out of the tendency of dependency on outsiders looking for its security.
  • It has to develop a clear vision & strategy to deal with its threats which will gain respect in International arena as these threats are not the priorities or the concern to other countries.
  • Building the capacity and managing the resources need to be prioritized by India rather than expecting someone else to solve its security problems.
  • India should come up to its own solutions and then go for the strategic plans and relations keeping its own interests in mind rather than fitting in some one’s else’s plan.
  • India just needs Missiles in its arsenals from USA and no other assistance for its land frontiers for which USA is ready to provide with all the wherewithal.

What are the success of these kind of agreements done by other countries?

  • The Indian agreements done with Japan and Australia are not much vital as they don’t have the role to play in the region where India is having concern.
  • USA & Japan are ally which makes such agreements important to them due to their relations with China and USA can be pulled into conflict due to North Korean & other such issue. Hence it becomes important for all these nations to be in line length.
  • But in Indian case the success of the agreement and dialogues will depend on the coordination of External Affairs Ministry & Defence Ministry of India which they lack.
  • Politically it can’t happen as they cannot think individually on the initiatives and policies unless done by involvement of the bureaucracy working together making 2+2 a success.

What India should keep in mind while dealing with USA?

  • There is lots of uncertainty about where USA is headed and the sustenance of these initiatives.
  • There are joint statements which showed the interests but there was no reference to the joint strategic vision document on Asia-pacific and Indian Ocean region as well.
  • The American Foreign policy is heavily dominated by the military and the state department has lost a lot of its importance.
  • The Pentagon itself is also divided, where central command is always leaning towards Pakistan and the Asia-pacific command leaning towards Indian interest as it is far more sea based.
  • The point to be focused is why America needs so many alliances with so many countries and bases all over the world and NATO and such organisations if they can do things alone.
  • So, India has to build ties with certain key partners and extract the maximum out of them while the approach that “we decide & others fit into it” does not work.


  • The relations are indeed very complex but the initiative is good step forward & has to be sustained and deepened as it is the need of an hour.
  • But there should not an impression that Indo-US are building a kind of an alliance against China & Russia alliance.
  • India has to keep in mind its relations with Russia balancing it with USA and do not allow any mixed signals to Russians that India is driving into American camp.
  • Ultimately it is a balancing act that is to be kept in mind as far as India’s interest is concerned.


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