IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 30th Oct 2020

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent van Gogh

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #215 :“India-US Defence Partnership 2020

India-US Defence Partnership 2020

Rakesh Sood
India-US Defence Partnership 2020

Rakesh Sood is a former diplomat and presently Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation


The India-U.S. defence partnership is deepening


The optics around the 2+2 Dialogue in Delhi are defining — the defence ties between the two countries have come of age



2+2 Dialogue in Delhi are defining the defence ties between India and U.S.Examine the strategic defence partnership between both the countries -(GS 2,3)


  • 2+2 Dialogues
  • Policy Frameworks
  • Defence Partnerships
  • Breaking Away from Labels


  • STRONG IMPETUS : The India-United States defence partnership received a major boost with the third round of the 2+2 Dialogue .
  • ESSENCE OF THE MEET UP : The joint statement spells out the highlights but the optics are what define the visit.
  • NOT A VIRTUAL MEET : Despite Pandemic , two senior U.S. officials travelling to Delhi conveys an unambiguous political message — the defence partnership has come of age.



  • EXTENSIVE PROCESS : It has been a long process, with many ups and downs since the first modest steps were taken with the end of the Cold War three decades ago.
  • KICKLIGHTER PROPOSALS : The 1991 Kicklighter proposals (The Army commander at the U.S. Pacific Command) suggested establishing contacts between the three Services to promote exchanges .
  • THE TECHNOLOGY GROUP : Defence Cooperation was concluded in 1995 instituting a dialogue at the Defence Secretary level together with the setting up of a Technology Group.
  • PROMINENT PROJECT : The end of the Cold War had helped create this opening but the overhang of the nuclear issue continued to cast a shadow on the talks.

There was little appreciation of each other’s threat perceptions and the differences came to a head when India undertook a series of nuclear tests in 1998.

  • MOOTING ECONOMIC SANCTIONS : The U.S. responded angrily by imposing a whole slew of economic sanctions and leading the international condemnation campaign.
  • NOTABLE DELIBERATION : An intensive engagement followed with 18 rounds of talks between the then External Affairs Minister and then U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott spanning two years .
  • LIFTING SANCTIONS : Sanctions were gradually lifted and in 2005, a 10-year Framework for Defence Relationship established, followed by a Joint Declaration on Defence Cooperation in 2013.
  • RENEWAL OF PRESENT FRAMEWORK : The Framework agreement was renewed in 2015 for another decade.


  • Institutional mechanism for areas of cooperation including joint exercises
  • Intelligence exchanges
  • Joint training for multinational operations
  • Disaster relief and humanitarian assistance
  • Technology transfer
  • Sharing of non-proliferation best practices.


  • CIVIL NUCLEAR DEAL : Initial movement was slow; it gathered momentum once the nuclear hurdle was overcome in 2008 with the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal.
  • GDP GROWTH : Equally important was the progressive opening up of the Indian economy that was registering an impressive annual growth rate of over 7%.

Bilateral trade in goods and services was $20 billion in 2000 and exceeded $140 billion in 2018.

  • STRONG DIASPORA : The four million-strong Indian diaspora in the U.S. has come of political age.

Its impact can be seen in the bipartisan composition of the India Caucus (in the House) and the Senate Friends of India group.

  • GROWING DEFENCE TIES : From less than $400 million of defence acquisitions till 2005, the U.S. has since signed defence contracts of $18 billion.


  • SUSTAINED GROWTH : A bipartisan consensus supporting the steady growth in India-U.S. ties in both New Delhi and Washington has been a critical supporting factor.
  • MODEST STEPS : The first baby steps in the form of the Kicklighter proposals came in 1991 from the Bush administration .

The visit, taking place after 22 years in 1978 marked a shift from “estranged democracies” to “natural allies”.

  • STUMBLING BLOCKS : Heavy political lifting was needed to conclude the historic nuclear deal in 2008, removing the biggest legacy obstacle.


  • JOINT STRATEGIC VISION : First with Obama administration by announcing a Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region in 2015.
  • STRATEGIC AND COMMERCIAL DIALOGUE : Strategic vision was followed by elevating the India-U.S. Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (launched in 2009 and the first round held in 2010) .
  • COMPREHENSIVE GLOBAL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP : This came into the 2+2 dialogue in 2018 with the Trump administration reflecting the ‘Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership’.
  • BECA : The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) providing for the sharing of geospatial data is the last of the foundational agreements.

Nearly 60 countries have signed BECA.

  • GSOMIA : The first, General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), relating to security of each other’s military information was signed in 2002.
  • END USE MONITORING AGREEMENT (EUMA) : EUMA was signed in 2009 but then dragged its feet on the others on the grounds that it would jeopardise India’s strategic autonomy.

However, it was apparent that as military exercises with the U.S. expanded, both in scale and complexity.

  • MILITARY EXERCISES : U.S. military platforms were inducted, not signing these agreements was perceived as an obstacle to strengthening cooperation. EX : MALABAR
  • LEMOA : In 2016, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) relating to exchange of logistics support had been concluded.
  • COMCASA : It was followed by Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018 permitting encryption standards of communication systems.

More than a 100 countries have signed these agreements with the U.S. Equivalent agreements on logistics without the political fuss.

      IASbhai Windup: 


  • EXPERIENCED DEMOCRACY : The U.S. is used to dealing with allies and adversaries.India falls into neither category.
  • MUTUAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT : Therefore, engaging as equal partners has been a learning experience for both India and the U.S. Recognising this, the U.S. categorised India as “a Major Defence Partner” in 2016.

It is a position unique to India that was formalised in the National Defense Authorisation Act (2017) authorising the Secretaries of State and Defence to take necessary measures.

  • STRATEGIC TRADE PARTNER : In 2018, India was placed in Category I of the Strategic Trade Authorisation, easing exports of sensitive technologies.
  • FIVE EYES MEETING : India was invited for the first time to also attend the Five Eyes (a signals intelligence grouping set up in 1941 consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) meeting.
  • POLICY SHIFT : When Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru described non-alignment as the guiding principle of Indian foreign policy, it was designed to expand India’s diplomatic space.

Such became the hold of the label that even after the Cold War, India defined strategic autonomy as Non-alignment 2.0!

  • MUTUAL RELIANCE : Developing the habit of working together has been a long process of building mutual respect and trust while accepting differences.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | India-US Defence Partnership 2020



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