India, US to establish ambitious roadmap for defence industrial cooperation

New Delhi: India and the US have decided to establish an ambitious roadmap for defence industrial cooperation, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday after wide-ranging talks with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.

At a media briefing, Austin also described the India-US global strategic partnership as the “cornerstone” of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The US defence secretary said he held productive talks with Defence Minister Singh and NSA Ajit Doval.

Over 5,000 invited prominent community members from across the US will gather at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington to witness a ceremonial welcome, gun salute and address by both President Biden and Prime Minister Modi.

This “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity granted to the country’s closest allies alone makes the community feel proud,” Gitesh Desai, a prominent Indian-American leader and president of Sewa International Houston Chapter, said.

“The invitation to address the US Congress serves as a reminder of the historic significance of the relationship between the US and India, reflecting the shared dream and commitment to global peace and prosperity, especially in the Indo-Pacific region,” Desai said “For realising sustainable progress and prosperity there are three areas of importance for cooperation and collaboration between two countries – energy, environment, and education. Energy being at the top, as India heavily depends on energy imports,” Desai said.

While Modi has visited the US during the terms of three US Presidents in his nine-year tenure, this is the first time he has been invited to a state dinner and the second time to address a joint session of Congress.

Prime Minister Modi had earlier addressed US lawmakers in 2016.

“Indian diaspora is beyond thrilled about the state visit and joint address to the US Congress. This visit is bound to further deepen the friendship, besides strengthening economic ties and investment in India,” Jagdip Ahluwalia, Founding Secretary of Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH), said.

“The bilateral trade between India and the US has already increased by 7.65 per cent to USD 128.55 billion in 2022-23 as against USD 119.5 billion in 2021-22 and USD 80.51 billion in 2020-21,” Ahluwalia said.

Eminent Vedic scholar and computer scientist, Padma Shri winner Prof Subhash Kak, said, “It is an interesting time in history with a serious challenge to American economic power from China.” “America is wooing India to be on its side. But India is expected to do what suits its interests and defanging Pakistan’s ongoing support for terrorism is one of India’s core interests. That apart, India is for an open society and freedom everywhere,” Kak, Regents Professor Emeritus in electrical and computer engineering at Oklahoma State University, said.

“During this trip, India’s focus will be on trade, and facilitation of investment by tech companies in India as the Americans hedge their bets and reduce their engagement with China. The US in turn would want greater support from India for the American side in the Ukraine War but India will stick to its line as India doesn’t want to take sides and prefers to be the third party to make it possible for the hostilities to be brought to an end with a framework for peace,” he said.

Indian-American entrepreneur & IIT alumnus, Jiten Agarwal, who is excited to attend both the ceremonial reception and the address to the US Congress, said: “The visit is going to be an immense opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations in several areas, including, security cooperation, defence, clean energy, technology and space.” India has already proved to be a prominent player in the global space industry as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched 103 satellites in orbit recently.

The indigenous human space mission is almost ready to carry humans into space. There is a huge opportunity for potential new initiatives in civil space cooperation between the two countries that include training new Indian astronauts by NASA and flying payloads on commercial lunar landers, he said.

“Wherever Prime Minister Modi goes, be that UK, Australia or any place, he electrifies the mood around the globe. The Indian-American community in Dallas are excited to be a part of this historic event and expect India to seize on the opportunity in front of it because of macro geopolitical conditions,” Dallas-based Arun Agarwal, CEO Nextt and co-chair Indian American CEO council, said.

Atlanta-based Indian-American leader Subhash Razdan, Chair Gandhi Foundation of USA and his wife Raj Razdan, president of the National Federation of Indian Association, are delighted about the visit and strongly believe that “Modi ji sincerity and commitment to India is bound to seek newer orbits for the good of Mother India.

“These are significant times for India. Modi’s visit to the US also comes ahead of the G20 Summit being hosted by India in September,” Subhash Razdan said.

Several top Indian-Americans are also excited to join Prime Minister Modi on the north lawns of the UN complex in New York, where he will lead the International Yoga Day event, soon after arriving in the country on June 21, sending the message of Yoga as the unifier in the world.