About the Author: Robert O. Blake serves as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.
I had the honor of participating in the plenary session of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, a high-level, two and a half hour gathering of Indian and American senior officials. This was the first time that such a large group of Cabinet-level officials from India and the United States sat around a table to think strategically about our relations.
The diversity of the attendees and topics really showcased the breadth of our partnership. After Secretary Clinton and Indian External Affairs Minister Krishna highlighted the broad areas of our cooperation and the exceptional promise for even deeper engagement, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke discussed the doubling of our trade over the last five years and the significant potential to continue this robust growth, including in high tech trade. FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed our growing counter-terrorism cooperation, and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden reviewed the potential for greater space collaboration.
On the Indian side, Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal brought up the many new opportunities in education as the Indian Parliament considers a bill to open the higher education system to foreign investment. Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwahlia spoke eloquently of the huge urban growth that will take place in India and the important chance we can work together to help ensure that India meets those needs by taking advantage of the latest high-efficiency low-carbon technologies. Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan commented on our chance to build innovation partnerships to strengthen our knowledge economies.
Others at the table brought up women's empowerment, climate change, civil nuclear cooperation, defense trade, assistance coordination and infrastructure development, among other topics.
The wide-ranging session shows that our two countries have come a long way in advancing activities that will benefit not only our two peoples but the entire world, from more accessible education to cleaner air to more productive farmers. While we have collaborated for several years on many of these items, we never had the overarching framework and the chance to benefit from the wide-ranging experiences of our leaders, breaking down stovepipes and allowing new synergies so we can take our partnership to new heights.
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