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Wednesday 3 April 2024

Indian Strategic Autonomy not to United States liking


India's global strategy has been a cause of concern for the United States, primarily due to the challenge it poses to America's desire for absolute control over its strategic partnerships. The relationship between the two countries has been characterized by a complex mix of friendship and rivalry, with the United States often oscillating between being an ally and a frenemy. This article explores the historical context of their relationship and sheds light on the current dynamics that have led to tensions between the two nations.

 Historical Background:

During India's struggle for independence, the United States emerged as a steadfast friend, with President Franklin Roosevelt criticizing British colonialism in India. However, after India gained independence, the two nations drifted apart as India pursued socialist economic policies and leaned towards the Soviet Union. The 1970s witnessed a further deterioration in their relationship, marked by the United States favoring Pakistan during the Bangladesh war and attempting to intimidate India. It was not until Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's successful visit to Washington in 1985 that India and the United States began restoring their ties. The friendship solidified in the 2000s with the India-US nuclear deal, but the rise of China in the region changed the dynamics significantly.

 The Changing Dynamics:

China's growing dominance in the Indo-Pacific region prompted the United States to view India as a crucial ally in countering China's influence. However, tensions surfaced when India sought equality rather than subordination in its relationship with the United States. A recent kerfuffle over India's internal politics highlighted this issue. When asked about the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal, a prominent Indian political figure, a State Department spokesperson commented on the matter, causing India to respond curtly, asserting its sovereignty. This incident exemplifies India's determination to pursue an independent geopolitical path, which has not always aligned with American expectations.

 India's Geostrategic Importance:

While elements within the Biden administration may occasionally find India's independent stance frustrating, they acknowledge India's growing geostrategic significance as a counterweight to China. Recognizing that India is set to become the world's third-largest economy by 2028, American advisors urge pragmatic cooperation, despite occasional differences. Conversely, China, India's primary concern, has shown cracks in its hostility by inviting Indians to experience Chinese friendship. However, China's attempts to draw India away from the United States have largely failed, evident in the long-standing border standoff between the two countries.

 The Complex Relationship:

As the United States navigates its global alliances, it prefers being the dominant partner with the final say. However, India's position poses a unique challenge since it is an ally that the United States needs as much as India needs the United States. Given America's concerns regarding a China-Russia-Iran-North Korea axis, having a dependable ally in the region is crucial. Nonetheless, Washington is uncomfortable with this situation and employs tactics to keep India off-balance. Questions regarding religious freedom and democracy in India are raised through embedded media and NGOs, with organizations like Freedom House amplifying the message. However, India is aware of its friends, enemies, and frenemies, and is determined to pursue its national interests accordingly.


India's pluralistic global strategy has created friction with the United States, which seeks absolute control over its strategic partnerships. While historical ties and geopolitical considerations have brought the two nations closer, India's pursuit of an independent path and its growing significance on the global stage have caused tensions. The United States recognizes the importance of India as a regional ally but finds it challenging to relinquish control. As India navigates its complex relationships, it remains steadfast in safeguarding its national interests based on a clear understanding of its friends, enemies, and frenemies

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