Celebrating 75 Years of American-Indian Partnership

This year we celebrate 75 years of Indian independence and diplomatic relations between the world’s two largest democracies and market economies. Over these 75 years, India has become the fastest growing major economy in the world, and the partnership between the United States and India has grown to be characterized primarily by the alignment of goals , values ​​and vision.

While today our relationship is characterized by convergence, in the mid-twentieth century the bilateral relationship was strained by the logic of a Cold War geopolitical landscape and India’s experiences with a development path of import substitution. Bilateral trade was minimal and the contours of the relationship were needs-based.

However, even then, there was a vision that the United States and India were destined for greater cooperation. With the Indo-Pakistani War presenting a historic low point for US-India relations in the 1970s, both governments recognized that the trade relationship should leverage diplomacy, which the business community – as it often does – had need lead.

That is why, in 1975, the governments of the United States and India called for the formation of the American-Indian Business Council to forge stronger trade and investment ties that could serve as the basis for a productive partnership. . The formation of the Council is the embodiment of the optimism that underlies this relationship. Over our 47 years of operation, and particularly over the past three decades, we have witnessed a tremendous development of our business and strategic partnership, and the growing interdependence of the latter and the former.

  • In 1991, India dismantled the License Raj (a baroque system of trade licenses and permits), got through its balance of payments crisis, and began lowering import tariffs.

  • In 2007, Australia, India, Japan and the United States launched the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue

  • In 2008, the United States and India launched the Civil Nuclear Agreement and the United States-India CEO Forum.

  • In 2016, the United States and India signed the Fundamental Defense Agreements, pledging to cooperate on logistics, secure communications, and geospatial intelligence.

During my tenure at USIBC, I was one of the first to taste sweet alphonso mangoes of Indian origin on American soil; proudly watched US pharmaceutical and insurance companies step up their investments in India as FDI rules were liberalized; and walked with Indian leaders and US governors as they visited potential manufacturing sites for sustainable Indian investments in the United States. Over the past 20 years, FDI flows from India have increased 20 times and the United States contributes 18% of them.

As our business ties have grown, so have our relationships as strategic partners. The US-India defense trade has increase from nearly zero in 2008 to over $20 billion over the past decade; Today, India stands out as a major defense partner and internet security provider in the Indo-Pacific.

During the pandemic, I participated in the unprecedented cooperation between the United States and India on global vaccination and pandemic relief. I still remember those early days when a group of global CEOs watched the second wave of COVID unfold in India, and witnessed their determination to help. Again, business leads the way. I have seen our members mobilize over $46 million to help India in its response to COVID-19. The USIBC team was proud to facilitate the logistics around the delivery and installation of 1,000 ventilators, purchased by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. India donated 1.8 million units of vital personal protective equipment in the United States in this time of need – a true signal that we depend on each other.

The US-India Economic Corridor has emerged from the pandemic with a renewed focus on extending this spirit of cooperation across sectors, and the past two years have seen both sides double down on their partnership for global good.

In 1949, just two years after India’s independence, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru told US President Truman:

“I am confident that these two republics of the Western world and the Eastern world will find many ways to work together in friendly and fruitful cooperation to our mutual benefit and for the good of mankind.”

Seventy-five years after India’s independence, I think you’ll agree that Prime Minister Nehru’s vision has come to fruition: the US-India partnership is one of global good. I am the wife of an American Indian, affectionately called “Bahu” at home; As in any good family relationship, there have been times of ease and times of tension between our partner nations, but throughout our difficulties we have remained committed to each other and to a converging economic agenda that has benefited to our 1.7 billion people.

This is an opportune time to reflect on and celebrate what the United States and India have accomplished in our 75 years of relationship, and how we can maximize the next 75 years of our partnership for global good. This is why we have chosen the theme for our 47th India Ideas Summit and Annual General Meeting as Maximize the next 75 years of American-Indian prosperity.

I hope you will join me and the rest of the USIBC in congratulating India on 75 years of independence, in reflecting on the importance of our matured trade and business relationships, and in celebrating ideas, innovations and the fearless spirit of our peoples at the USIBC Annual Meeting and Ideas Summit on September 6-7. We’ve come a long way together, but if the last 75 years are any indication, we’re just getting started.

This blog is the first in a series of articles that highlight the benefits of US-India economic relations.

About the authors

Amy Hariani

Senior Advisor, US-India Business Council (USIBC), US Chamber of Commerce

About Larry Noble

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