Restructuring Indo-US relations: urgent action essential

17 Mar 2000

President Clinton?s visit to India is being seen by several observers as a watershed in Indo-US relations. The political implications of the visit apart, what does have a great deal of significance for India in particular is the prospect of a much stronger economic content in the relationship between the two countries. While there were very few heavyweight industry leaders in President Clinton?s delegation, this should not be seen as a significant omission, given the fact in the past few years several major US companies have established a major presence in India, particularly in the field of information technology. President Clinton?s own assessment of the dynamism of Indian society and the strength of the country?s democratic institutions would provide a very powerful feedback to the captains of industry and political leaders in the US. One subject that featured prominently in various speeches given by President Clinton relates to the field of clean energy and environmental protection. The Indian side did not derive the full benefits of US interests in engaging India to move on a path of cleaner energy and lower emission levels, and in the statement signed between the Indian Foreign Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh and the US Secretary of State, Ms Madeleine Albright, India has declared its intentions for specific levels of use of renewable energy in power generation and a quantified improvement in overall energy efficiency for the economy. Yet, nothing has been committed by the US in return for these actions being taken by India. One major exercise that provides India with some opportunities is the report of the US PCAST (President?s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology), wherein a clear case has been made for an energy initiative by the US in promoting cleaner energy production and use in the developing countries. This needs adequate follow-up. The success of forward-looking agreements of the type that were signed between the US and Indian officials during the Clinton visit lies essentially in the faithful implementation of the provisions of such agreements. It is important that if the Indo-US relationship is to be restructured and strengthened, the Government of India takes serious steps to implement the agreements signed with a sense of urgency and purpose.
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