With the new Narendra Modi-led government starting its functioning, a top American think-tank on Wednesday called for re-organising of the 28 different dialogues that currently exist between India and the US.
“There has been a great deal of frustration, both inside and outside of government, with the effectiveness of these platforms. Many wonder if they are worth the effort to organise,” Richard M Rossow, the Wadhwani Chair on US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said.
The United States and India have 28 dialogues, including two trilateral dialogues involving Japan and Afghanistan, respectively. These dialogues, most of which were initiated during the 10-year rule of the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition, cover an incredibly wide range of activities, from agriculture to technology trade.
As the new Indian government starts its functioning, Rossow called for a more focused approach by reorganising these dialogues.
Prominent among them include Strategic Dialogue, Energy Dialogue, CEO Forum, Commercial Dialogue, Trade Policy Forum, Information & Communications Technology Working Group, Higher Education Dialogue, Cyber Security Consultations, Strategic Cyber Policy Dialogue, Home Security Dialogue, Strategic Security Dialogue, Women’s Empowerment Dialogue, Economic & Financial Partnership, Aviation Summit and Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation.
Other dialogues include Joint Commission on Science & Technology, Health Initiative, Agriculture Dialogue, Consular Dialogue, High-Technology Cooperation Group, Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism, Defense Policy Group, Political-Military Dialogue, Joint Working Group on Peacekeeping, Foreign Office Consultations, Dialogue on United
Nations, US-Japan-India Trilateral and US-India-Afghanistan Trilateral.
Apart from our bilateral working groups, there are also several formal deals that are at various levels of discussion.
Foremost among the pending agreements are Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) which offers investor protections; Commercial Space Launch Agreement (CLSA) that allows India to launch US satellites, Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that allows India to import US military-quality communications equipment.
The other two pending agreements include Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation and Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) that simplifies sharing of defense facilities such as air force refueling bases.
“It is unclear if the Modi government will have any greater appetite to enter serious talks on these potential agreements. There are benefits to signing each, but they also
mark further integration of our economies and militaries, which carries some level of concern,” Rossow said.