- GS-2: Education & Governance
- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Shared values: On India and the U.S
Context: Recent visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Delhi. The visit was meant to prepare the way for more substantive meetings in Washington later this year, including
- US -India “2+2” of Foreign and Defence Ministers
- Quad (India, US, Australia, Japan) summit of its leaders
- Bilateral meeting between PM Modi and U.S. President Joseph Biden.
Key Takeaways of the Blinken’s Visit
Most of the conversations were focused on Quad cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, Afghanistan and on the state of democracy and rights.
- On Quad: US & India showed full convergence
- On Afghanistan: India said that there were “more convergences than divergences” on the common positions that there is no military solution to conflict, and that neither country would recognise a Taliban regime that takes Kabul by force.
- On Democratic freedom: Both sides maintained there were “shared values” but points of friction existed between two.
What are the divergences between India & USA on Afghanistan?
- U.S. withdrawal will mean a less secure region that also impacts India’s security interests in the region.
- U.S. continues to engage the Taliban in talks for a power-sharing arrangement, despite the Taliban leadership’s refusal to enforce a ceasefire, and stop attacks against civilians in areas they take over. This embolden Taliban who has close ties with Pakistan (against India’s interests)
- Taliban is also trying to squeeze trade and financial supply chains to the Afghanistan government and US is not holding Taliban accountable for its actions.
- Perhaps the greatest worry for India is the U.S.’s refusal to hold Pakistan to account for having given shelter to the Taliban, as this will only embolden Islamabad if the Taliban advance in Afghanistan.
- Another cause of worry is the recent U.S.’s announcement of a new “Quad” with Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan on connectivity.
What were the points of friction on Democratic freedoms?
- Mr. Blinken met with a “civil society roundtable” wherein internal Indian issues such as minority rights, religious freedoms and curbs on the media and dissent were discussed. This was done in the wake of international criticism against Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 & abrogation of Article 370.
- India’s Minister of External Affairs however countered the allegation of “backslide” in India’s democracy by reiterating that the same standards apply for the U.S. and India and actions by government like CAA & Article 370 was taken to “right historical wrongs”
Despite the attempt from both sides to paper over the cracks, Democratic freedoms is an issue that they will grapple with in the future even as they build upon the strong “Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership” that the world’s oldest and most populous democracies continue to share.
Connecting the dots :