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Evolution of the India and US Relationship

The US and India currently have the most strategic and consequential relationship of the 21st century. The tensions in the Middle East and the Russia-Ukraine War have tested their bilateral cooperation at various stages, however, their relationship has withstood many challenges. They have continuously consolidated their relations amid differences through diplomatic and political dialogue and strategic cooperation.

An Illustration on Evolution of the India and US Relationship

Illustration by The Geostrata

The contentions between the US and China have fostered significant improvements in technology, trade, defence, sustainability and more, thriving their bilateral relations, and promoting collaboration resulting in mutual benefits.


However their relationship has not always been harmonious, there have been a lot of obstacles they encountered in their journey that pushed their relationship to the brink. After India's independence, the relationship between the countries remained largely estranged due to the signing of the Non-Alignment movement. 

India was struggling with governmental and developmental challenges, choosing one side between the US and the Soviet Union and alienating the other would prove detrimental. 

During the 1962 Indo-China War, the Soviet Union decided against India, while the US assisted India with military and defence supplies. This acted as a pioneer in the strategic and military cooperation between the two countries. However, the road ahead was bouldery and complications did not allow an area of political negotiations. 

In 1968, the entity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty divided the world into haves and have-nots. All non-nuclear nations do not acquire or create nuclear weapons while permitting the 5 states (Russia, the US, China, the UK, France and Canada) that had tested their weapons before 1968 to retain them.  India refused the non-proliferation treaty declaring it discriminatory.

China had earlier tested its nuclear weapons in 1964 and the border tensions did not allow any area of negotiations. 

This was followed by the Indo-Pak War of 1971 which proved to be another area of contention and deteriorated the previously developed strategic ties during the Indo-China war. The US sided with Pakistan, providing military and strategic intelligence assistance while imposing restrictions on both Islamabad’s and New Delhi’s arms.

This act inflicted severe harm on their relationship. After the first nuclear test by India in 1974, the US imposed several trade restrictions and a critical dual-use technology embargo on India that lasted for over 2 decades, followed by the revocation of all kinds of nuclear assistance provided to India in 1978. Indira Gandhi visited the US in 1982 and signed an agreement for scientific and technical cooperation at the Tarapur Nuclear Plant.

The economic reforms brought in 1991 under the guidance of Finance Minister Manmohan Singh catalysed and integrated India’s economy with the rest of the world.

The opening of India’s economy allowed foreign investments and trade opportunities, providing limited but positive domains of cooperation. However, that was momentary; the nuclear testing in 1998 crumbled their relations when US President Bill Clinton imposed trade restrictions on India.

The Kargil War of 1999 was a landmark for the scope of improvement when Bill Clinton summoned Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan withdrew itself from the LOC. Since then the two nations have witnessed several advancements from the removal of trade restrictions to acceptance as the only nation outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty to indulge in nuclear commerce. They have collaborated and partnered on aspects of counterterrorism, information sharing, trade, education, science and technology, cybersecurity and many more.

The bilateral trade between the countries has attained new heights with reduced sanctions by the Biden administration. The investment by Indian companies in the US has also fostered the transfer of expertise and job creation in the market.

They have also partnered to address climate change and technological advancements. The year 2023, also marks the maximum number of visits by US diplomats to Indian soil showcasing improvement in diplomatic and bilateral ties.

Though the relationship has not been all rosy during recent years however the area of diplomatic and political dialogue has allowed for effective resolution and both nations remain close allies, they have understood that as the world’s two largest democracies of the world amid the growing geopolitical tensions and areas of disagreements, it is essential to maintain bilateral cooperation and navigate the crisis. 

The souring relations between China and the US have catalysed this shift in preferences. The US sees India as a mode of reducing China’s hegemony in the Indo-Pacific however, despite the worsening relations between India and China, the two Asian giants with rising defence capabilities need to maintain formal dialogue with China. India and the US have been close allies and have evolved into a” global strategic partnership” however it remains principal to foster partnerships but not at the cost of national security and integrity.





Well written


stellar developments


US-India relations will be stronger in the coming times


Well written with great insights👏🏻



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