“India and the US are today positioned to embark on a more closely collaborative path. The world the two nations seek does look similar in the big picture: with greater prosperity, more freedom, market economics, rule based regimes, and pluralistic societies,” Jaishankar said while speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston on Wednesday.
At a more practical level, this is being translated into ground reality, he said, adding that since 2005 trade has tripled and investments have shot up. The two sides are each other’s premier partner when it comes to military exercises.
India has also emerged as the largest customer for American defense sales abroad.
“Our engagement today spans many more areas, from education and health to homeland security and energy. Our conversations too are more wide-ranging and honest, with less talking past each other,” he said.
“To set the new relationship in stone, however, requires much more work. There are disappointments about missed opportunities. Short-term issues can crop up and even dominate in the absence of direction. After all, we have seen differences being publicly paraded after some years,” he said.
“The overhang of the old view too can persist, missing the point that our interests are convergent and not congruent. Arguments of over-investment will be made, particularly from those who never had much appetite for these ties,” he said.
“But the fact is that public opinion in each country about the other has shifted clearly in a favorable direction. Our politicians and business leaders get it, as do scientists, educationists and the military. The Pew polls on societal attitudes affirm this change strongly,” Jaishankar noted.
He said the Kargil conflict provided an opportunity for the Clinton Administration to begin a course correction.
“The nuclear deal under President (George W) Bush, requiring the passage of laws to remove impediments not just for nuclear cooperation but indirectly for defense, space and high technology, saw policy finally catching up with reality,” he said.
“The Obama Administration has since consolidated those shifts. Mutual perceptions adjusted too, of India as a responsible power and of the US as one resident in Asia. The interesting aspect of this transition is its relatively evolutionary nature. Obviously, the earlier era had created enough connects to make that possible,” he added.