The ties between the United States and India – two countries bound by shared values, pluralistic democratic institutions, and strategic partnership – have grown demonstrably over the past ten years. In fact, they’ve never been stronger. That closeness was on display last week, when, on the eve of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi on June 23, Secretary John Kerry hailed the potential embodied by our over 1.5 billion citizens, proclaiming that “the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy must do more together, uniting… as partners building a strong, smart future in a critical age.”
As Secretary Kerry embarked on his first official trip to the subcontinent since taking the helm in Foggy Bottom, many in Washington and New Delhi were hopeful that along with his counterpart, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, the Secretary would paint an ambitious vision and challenge each country’s bureaucracy to think big, and propel the relationship to the next level.
They did just that. I was privileged to be a part of Secretary Kerry’s delegation that also included our new Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Administrators of USAID and NASA, and senior officials from a broad range of U.S. agencies, who were each able to offer insights into their respective technical areas of bilateral cooperation. From space exploration to expanding access to education, the U.S. and Indian participants in the dialogue discussed practical ways for us to work together to tackle the most pressing global challenges of the 21st century.
On climate change and clean energy we made significant progress. We announced a loan guarantee program to support a private equity firm in Mumbai that will help mobilize at least $100 million in private sector financing that could generate hundreds of additional megawatts of clean energy capacity in India, as well as new collaboration that aims to help India’s growing air conditioner market transform to super-efficient space cooling technologies. This builds on the enormous clean energy cooperation championed by President Obama that has mobilized $2 billion to finance clean energy initiatives in India. Secretary Kerry and Minister Khurshid pledged to establish a U.S.-India Climate Change Dialogue to chart ways to invigorate our partnership in this area so critical to the futue health of the planet.
We also celebrated the many stories of cutting edge, useful innovations in clean energy, development, and green technologies that our citizens are creating through our partnerships and announced awards for the Millennium Alliance and Science and Technology Endowment Board.
Responding to doubts in some corners about implementation progress on the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, the United States and India welcomed the intention of Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to reach a pre-Early Works Agreement by September of this year. Both Secretary Kerry and Minister Khurshid reaffirmed our commitment to full and timely implementation of the landmark 2008 civil nuclear deal.
Both leaders agreed we need to do more to build on the already booming trade between our peoples. As Secretary Kerry pointed out, two-way trade in goods and services between the United States and India approached $100 billion in 2012. We are working with businesses from both countries to keep that growth going. The Secretary announced he will host the high-level U.S.-India CEO Forum on July 12 here at the State Department, which will provide a distinctive opportunity to discuss the opportunities and impediments related to our commercial ties.
The U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue, another facet of the Strategic Dialogue, continues to forge deep ties between educational institutions in our two nations by creating scholarships, fostering the growth of community colleges, and helping Indian and American students connect with one another, both online and through travel programs. We also announced a number of awards that will enable American and Indian higher education institutions to partner together to build linkages and develop solutions to global challenges.
Remarking on what is next for the United States and India, the Secretary said it best: “[W]e have to look forward, and we have to move forward, along with the currents that will take us into [the] future. And we have to do this not as passive passengers, but as drivers.”
Editor's Note: Join Assistant Secretayr Blake for a Facebook Chat on U.S.-India relations on Tuesday, July 2, at 10:00 a.m. EDT.