Zee Media Bureau
Washington: Two days before arriving in India, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Monday, heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and laid out a roadmap for a long-term strategic partnership between Washington and New Delhi.
Addressing an audience at the Center for American Progress here, Kerry said the US` ties with India will most affect the direction of the 21st century.
Noting that the India-US ties is yet to "blossom" together, Kerry said, "The US and India can and should be indispensable partners for the 21st century.”
He also said the two countries can work together to tackle global challenges from climate change to clean energy and others.
Noting that deepening relationship with India is a strategic imperative, Kerry said it was time to renew dialogue with a new government, with a new set of opportunities, new possibilities. Kerry was referring to election of Narendra Modi, who won an historic mandate to “deliver change and reform”.
“This is a potentially transformative moment in our partnership with India, and we’re determined to deliver on the strategic and historic opportunities that we can create together,” the US Secretary of State added in a major foreign policy speech on India.
Acknowledging that India is going to have different partners, Kerry insisted that there are unique opportunities for just United States and India. “The dynamism and the entrepreneurial spirit of Mumbai and Bangalore, of Silicon Valley and of Boston – that is precisely what is required in order to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges,” Kerry added.
US President Barack Obama is absolutely right to call this a defining partnership for the 21st century, Kerry said.
“The United States and India can and should be indispensable partners for the 21st century, and that is, I assure you, the way we approach the Modi government and the way we view this particular time.”
He also said that the US wants to support the new Indian government’s plan, “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, together with all, development for all.
"American companies lead in exactly the key sectors where India wants to grow: in high-end manufacturing, in infrastructure, in healthcare, information technology, all of them vital to sort of leapfrogging stages of development so you can provide more faster to more people," he said.
India also wants to build a more competitive workforce, and already 100,000 Indians study each year in American universities, he said, adding US community colleges actually set a remarkable standard for 21st century skills training.
"We should be expanding our educational ties across the board, increasing opportunities for young people in both of our nations. I know Prime Minister Modi drew from that energy of India`s youth during his campaign. He repeatedly pointed out that while India`s one of the world`s oldest civilisations, it has the world`s youngest population.”
"Prime Minister Modi has said that young people have a natural instinct to rise like a flame. And he has spoken about India`s duty to nurture that instinct, and we believe, frankly, that`s a duty for both of our nations," he said.
"And that means strengthening the exchange in technical education, in vocational programs for high-skilled trades, and especially in areas where we can build on the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of both of our nations," he said, adding that everyone knows about the extraordinary work ethic that people in India have and the capacity to be able to do this and seize this opportunity," Kerry said.
"One of the marked contrasts of this moment is this juxtaposition to parts of the world where young people demanded a participation in this world they see around them, and rose up against leadership that had stultified over the course of years, decades even Tunisia, Egypt, Syria.”
"They all began without one flake of religious extremism involved in the revolutions that brought change. It was all about young people gathering and forcing the notion that they wanted something more to life. They wanted opportunity, education, respect, dignity, jobs, a future," Kerry noted.
"So this possibility I`ve just defined between India and the United States, which fits very neatly into Prime Minister Modi`s vision that he expressed in a campaign which was ratified overwhelmingly by the people of his country is exactly the vision that we need to embrace now, and that`s why this opportunity is actually so ripe," Kerry said.
"This area of cooperation is particularly exciting, I think, and I`m particularly confident about these opportunities, because only countries that reward creativity the way the US and India do could have possibly launched Hollywood and Bollywood.”
"Only countries that celebrate the entrepreneur the way we do could have launched Silicon Valley and Bangalore as global epicentres for innovation," he said.
"Innovation and entrepreneurship are in both of our DNA, and they not only make us natural partners; they give us natural advantages in a world that demands adaptability and resilience. The US and India cannot afford to just sort of sit back and rest on these currently existing advantages. We have to build on them and we have to build on them by investing more in one another," he said.
"If India`s government delivers on its plans to support greater space for private initiative, if it creates greater openness for capital flows, if it limits subsidies that stifle competition, if it provides strong intellectual property rights, believe me, even more American companies will come to India. They may even race to India. And with a clear and ambitious agenda, we can absolutely help create those conditions," he said.
"So as we work with our trading partners around the world to advance trade and investment liberalisation, India has a decision to make about where it fits in the global trading system. India`s willingness to support a rules-based trading order and fulfil its obligations will help to welcome greater investment from the US and from elsewhere around the world.
"The greater transparency and accountability that Prime Minister Modi put in place during his time as chief minister tells us he has already provided a model of how raising standards can actually increase economic growth," Kerry said.
The US and India should continue to reach for the ambitious target that Vice President (Joe) Biden laid out last summer in India, to push from USD 100 billion to USD 500 billion a year in trade.
"And whatever impediments we may face along the way, we need to always be mindful of the opportunities and the bigger picture around this.”
"It is completely in our mutual interest to address those obstacles that kind of raise their head here and there as you go along the way and to remember that a lot bigger opportunities will come from more robust ties, so we need to keep our eye on the prize out there and not get dragged down by one small or lesser particular aspect of a restraint. The bigger picture has to guide us and the end game has to guide us," Kerry said.
Both India and the US pride ourselves on science and innovation, Kerry said. He further backed PM Modi`s call for a Saffron Revolution, because “the saffron colour represents energy”. He further quoted the Indian PM as saying “this revolution should focus on renewable energy sources such as solar energy, to meet India’s growing energy demand.”
Kerry in his speech supported India`s vision of an integrated South and Central Asia and that with the South East Asia.
The Obama Administration is ready to help India in this regard, Kerry said as he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his initiatives to establish peace and improve relationship with the neighbouring countries.
By inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration, Kerry said Modi has taken the "first step" to establish peace and friendship with its South Asian neighbour.
Supporting the move to increase India-Pak economic relationship, Kerry said improved trade is a win-win for both the countries.
Reiterating support for India`s place in the UN Security Council, Kerry in his speech said India is a global power.
The Secretary of State listed out the progress made between the two countries in various areas including economy, clean energy, and counter-terrorism. The India-US collaboration on counter terrorism, in particular real-time information sharing, helps confront common threats and bring terrorists to justice, he said.
Describing climate change as a biggest challenge not only for the world, but also India, Kerry called for increased collaboration between the two countries on this issue.
Kerry said US President Barack Obama would welcome the Indian Prime Minister at the White House in November.
Kerry will visit India July 30-August 01.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will host Kerry in New Delhi and the duo will co-chair the fifth India-US Strategic Dialogue on July 31.
This will be Kerry`s first visit to India since the inception of the new government and his first meeting with Sushma Swaraj since the two leaders assumed office.
Kerry is expected to meet Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He will also visit Bangalore.
(With Agency inputs)