President Barack Obama has now visited India twice while in office; his recent attendance follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s U.S. tour, which was designed to promote Indian democracy and emphasized the importance of the U.S.–Indian partnership. Obama’s return to India underscores a desire for co-development with India an emerging power. On the table, were discussions on modernizing Indian nuclear energy, an acceleration of bilateral trade and American investment, and closer defense ties.
India’s exclusion from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation, because of its nuclear weapons program, has impeded civilian nuclear development through trade bans of necessary materials. On the president’s first day of his trip, both sides announced a breakthrough deal that would allow the U.S. to supply India with civilian nuclear technology. India plans to dramatically increase its nuclear energy production 14-fold by 2032 with the help of foreign development from nations such as Russia, France, and America. As of now, eight American nuclear power plants are expected to be constructed in India. India plans to increase nuclear energy’s share of total electrical production to 25 percent by 2050.
India hosts the world’s second largest population at 1.2 billion, which is expected to become the largest by as early as 2028. India also has much room for development in industry, infrastructure, and research for other countries looking for generous and profitable deals. Consequently, Obama has announced $4 billion in increased trade and investment with India; $2 billion of which are intended for renewable energy investments. Additionally, the Export-Import Bank of the United States will separately invest a billion dollars to facilitate the export of goods made in America to India. Finally, two trade missions with a focus on spurring rail, road, and port development will be conducted this year. America’s interest in India is not an isolated case; many countries have taken an interest in India’s development. As such, American investment will face stiff competition from other foreign investors in India.
In accordance with the U.S. pivot to Asia, Obama and Modi have issued a joint strategic vision statement for the Asia–Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, a matter that has irked neighboring China, which interprets the partnership as a derivative of the American Cold War-era containment strategy. On another note, Obama is the first U.S. president to attend India’s Republic Day parade featuring mostly Russian-made equipment, which compared starkly with the fact that U.S. arms imports in India have for the first time eclipsed the corresponding imports from Russia. Both countries have renewed their 10 year defense framework agreement, which seeks to strengthen the US–India defense partnership and includes a provision for the production of low-end weapon systems in India.
The president’s efforts in India have elevated the relationship, which has traditionally been positive, for the world’s leading and largest democracies. India’s emergence into the world stage is a tale of catch-up in many areas, be it infrastructure or defense, in which America is now certain in its role as a valued supporting character.