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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : The Pact’s Fine Print


Source: Indian Express, Indian Express

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance(India-US relations), iCET, Defence Framework Agreement etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India, Significance of Indo-Pacific for India etc



  • Michael Pillsbury, a foreign policy strategist: “Not only has China’s rise happened right under our noses, but also the US and the West have helped the Chinese accomplish their goals from the beginning”.
    • He added: “The American public is unaware of the extent of covert cooperation between Washington and Beijing over the past forty years.”




India-US Relations:


  • India-U.S. bilateral relations have developed into a “global strategic partnership.
  • Relationship is based on:
    • Shared democratic values
    • Increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues.


Areas of Cooperation:


Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) between India and US:

  • It involves collaboration in a range of areas including:
    • quantum computing
    • semiconductors
    • 5G and 6G wireless infrastructure
    • civilian space projects such as lunar exploration.
  • The two sides are focused on cooperation in defense production.
  • India and the US announced one concrete measure — the making of a fighter jet engine in India.


Challenges in relations:

  • Absence of any significant offer of high tech by the US to India, despite bilateral ties, growing steadily in warmth and closeness.
    • Instead the transfer of multiple advanced technologies, including submarine nuclear propulsion to Australia.


Accords and agreements,

  • Next Steps in Strategic Partnership” in 2004
  • Defence Framework Agreement” in 2005
  • “Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement” in 2008
  • “Defence Technology and Trade Initiative” in 2012
  • Major Defence Partner” status by US Congress in 2016
  • Institution of “2+2 talks” in 2018.
  • US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies spearheaded by the National Security Councils (NSC) of the two countries”
  • Heads of ISRO and DRDO, recently held the first formal talks in Washington with their US counterparts


What are the advantages of  iCET?

  • It could become a “game changer” in catalyzing Indo-US technology cooperation
  • Persuading the US to lift existing export control restrictions
  • Encouraging the private sector of both countries to cooperate in sensitive sectors.
  • Dispel the cloud of mistrust that has hung over this relationship
  • Demonstrate a mutual commitment to investing in advanced technologies, such as quantum computing, AI and space, semiconductor design and manufacture.
  • Areas in which India’s defense industrial complex has been struggling for decades iCET must focus urgently.


Issues with them:

  • The Indo-US “strategic partnership: It has delivered only $22 billion worth of military hardware, purchased by India via the foreign military sales programme.


India’s defense industrial complex:

  • It comprises the DRDO, defense public sector undertakings (DPSU) and the (erstwhile) Ordnance Factory Board, with the Soviet/Russian arms industry.
  • Beginning in the mid-1960s, our DPSUs built, under license, 800 or more fighters of the MiG series along with about 2,000 aero engines, a few thousand battle-tanks, armored vehicles and their engines.


Consequence of  oversight or lapse:

  • Importer: India has remained amongst the world’s largest importer of arms
  • Buying from abroad weapons ranging from rifles and machine guns to battle tanks and fighters, and prime movers from diesel and aero engines to nuclear reactors.


Way Forward

  • Even though ownership of technology in the US may lie with the private sector, the US Arms Export Control Act not only requires clearances from the Departments of State and Defence for ToT but also imposes certain restrictions on the recipient state.
  • An unstated but significant, long-term objective of the iCET: To wean India off its dependency on Russian military hardware.
    • This is likely to face stiff resistance on various grounds from Moscow as well as from domestic quarters
  • The time has come for India to break free of Russia’s apron strings and regain “strategic autonomy” in international affairs.
  • India is in dire need of technology, the US industry remains firmly focused on trade.
    • India will, therefore, need to leverage its considerable purchases in the arms, energy, civil aviation, nuclear and other sectors in a holistic manner to extract technology from the US.
  • India must bear in mind that merely switching from Russian to American military hardware will be a case of “jumping from the frying pan into the fire”.
    • Atmanirbharta must remain our ultimate aim.



Q. What is the significance of Indo-US deals over Indo-Russian defense deals? Discuss with reference to stability in the Indo-Pacific region(UPSC 2020) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)