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  • Writer's pictureBrahmastra Aerospace

India and US collaborate to launch ambitious tech and defense initiatives

Proceeding the ICET was announced during US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bilateral talks in Tokyo in May 2022, and it focuses on strengthening the US-India partnership on technologies that will drive global growth, boost both countries' economic competitiveness, and protect shared national security interests.

Joint efforts were designed to counter China in the Indo-Pacific and wean New Delhi off its reliance on Russia for weapons.

To counter China in the Indo-Pacific and wean New Delhi off its reliance on Russia for weapons, the US is launching a series of ambitious technology, space, and defence initiatives with India.

On Tuesday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval in Washington, where the two countries announced cooperation in several areas, including quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G wireless networks, and semiconductors. They also devised a method for facilitating joint weapon production.

The Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies is the latest step taken by US President Joe Biden to strengthen ties with allies and partners to counter China. It comes after Biden and India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, agreed to launch the initiative when they met in Tokyo in May 2022.

“It is a strategic bet by the two leaders. . . that creating a deeper ecosystem between the US and India will serve the strategic, economic, and technological interests of both countries,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the initiative was part of Biden's strategy to strengthen ties with allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific, citing the Aukus submarine pact with Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as the revival of the "Quad" — a security alliance comprised of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India.

“This is another big foundational piece of an overall strategy to put the entire democratic world in the Indo-Pacific in a position of strength.”

According to one US official, the technology initiative, along with other actions, will make 2023 "probably the most consequential year in US-India diplomacy," adding that India is "the key" to US ambitions in the region.

He stated that India was more aligned with the US due to its tense relations with China, particularly following deadly border clashes in the Galwan Valley in 2020. "The Indians don't advertise it... but it had a 9/11-style impact on the strategic thinking of their elites."

According to Sullivan, the initiative does not indicate a fundamental shift in India's geopolitical orientation, but it emphasises the impact that negative Chinese behavior is having on countries around the world.

"It's economic practices, aggressive military moves, efforts to dominate future industries and control future supply chains have had a profound impact on thinking in Delhi," he said.

Tanvi Madan, a Brookings Institution India expert, described the initiative as a "significant investment" in the relationship that highlighted a growing strategic realignment. She did, however, point out that India's traditional policy of "non-alignment" with most countries applied less to China.

Concerns about China's lead in critical sectors have prompted India to try to increase its domestic technology capacity. It is attempting to establish a chip industry and promote emerging sectors where it lags behind Beijing, such as electric vehicles and telecommunications. Indian officials want Apple, Samsung, and other multinational corporations to invest more in India as they diversify their supply chains away from China.

The India goals align with the US desire to increase cooperation to compete more effectively with China and to enable like-minded democracies to set critical technology standards.

Sullivan stated that the White House would work with the US Congress to make it easier to attract science and technology talent from India, which is critical as the US attempts to revitalize its domestic chip industry.

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