India important to US interests: Asia Society study

January 17th, 2009 - 10:44 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 17 (IANS) Citing the Mumbai terror attacks, an Asia Society task force study urges incoming the Obama administration to forge a strong partnership with India to tackle global challenges such as terrorism and the financial crisis.”India matters to virtually every major foreign policy issue that will confront the United States in the years ahead,” the New York-based society, which promotes scholarship and exchanges with Asia, said Friday.

“A broad-based, close relationship with India will thus be necessary to solve complex global challenges, achieve security in the critical South Asian region, re-establish stability in the global economy, and overcome the threat of violent Islamic radicalism which has taken root across the region and in India,” it said.

“As the recent attacks in Mumbai made clear, there is an urgent need for increased partnership between the world’s two largest democracies,” the study said urging President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office Jan 20, to pursue deeper collaboration with India on issues ranging from security and economic growth to climate change.

The task force believes “that the US relationship with India will be among our most important in the future, and will at long last reach its potential for global impact-provided that strong leadership on both sides steers the way.”

“As the Obama Administration transitions to power already burdened with global economic crises and two wars, two events underscore India’s importance for US interests: the brutal Mumbai attacks and the financial sector meltdown,” it said.

“The Mumbai attacks reminded Americans of India’s vulnerability to global terrorism, our shared struggle against violent Islamic extremism, and the potential for crisis to rapidly escalate in the region.

“The financial sector meltdown and the emerging global response showed how India can be a key part of the solution through leadership in global bodies such as the G20,” it said.

The task force report “Delivering on the Promise: Advancing US Relations with India” outlines innovative proposals to utilise both countries’ strategic strengths, particularly leveraging private sector engagement to tackle complex global issues.

Over the last decade, ties between the US and Indian private sectors have grown rapidly, powering the relationship with new momentum. More recently, shared values and a convergence of national interests have led to new US-Indian collaboration at governmental levels, the task force noted.

“Last year’s civilian nuclear agreement demonstrates our countries’ willingness to explore inventive avenues to address global challenges,” said former Ambassador to India Frank G. Wisner.

“This task force wants to harness the energy of our two countries’ private sectors in public-private partnerships focused on the big problems governments cannot solve alone,” he said.”The new relationship rests on a convergence of US and Indian national interests, and never in our history have they been so closely aligned.”

Wisner and Charles R. Kaye, former chairman of the US-India Business Council, are co-chairs of the task force.

Headed by former top diplomats and business leaders from the two countries, task force said India and US could work together in areas such as expanding trade, environmental issues and climate change, non-proliferation and public health.

Obama should boost governmental relations by helping secure Indian membership in multilateral institutions where global decisions are made, expanding counter-terrorism cooperation and forging a bilateral investment treaty, the report said.

US-Indian public-private projects should be formed to help meet India’s vast secondary and higher education needs, to spread HIV/AIDS awareness and to help boost agricultural output through technology, the task force recommended.

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