ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Washington's 'Major Defence Partner'

Cutting through the deceit, the "latest junior defence partner on the block" might be a more truthful description.

One of the most significant aspects of the 7 June 2016 “Joint Statement: The United States and India—Enduring Global Partners in the 21st Century” is Washington’s recognition of New Delhi as “Major Defence Partner.” This is supposed to facilitate the United States’ (US) “technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners,” including “licence-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies,” “support of India’s Make in India initiative, and to support the development of robust defence industries and their integration into the global supply chain...”

Pray what does this imply and what are the strings attached? The key words over here, if we have got it right, are the transfer of technology “at a level commensurate with that of its [the US’s] closest allies and partners.” A senior Obama administration
official—presumably he did not want to be identified by his name—has clarified that Major Defence Partner implies “access to [defence] technologies that are on par with [US] treaty allies,” presumably referring to the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). And he added: “That is a very unique status. India is the only other country that enjoys that status outside [US] formal treaty allies.” But Richard M Rossow, Wadhwani Chair of US–India Policy Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, let the cat out of the bag when he said that access to advanced defence technology will depend on the “specific operations India may be willing to undertake in the future to contribute to regional security.”

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