Indian American Women’s Inspiring Leadership

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s tenacious battle for the presidency of the US is a symbol of Indian American women’s emergence as a powerhouse in politics and society even though she dropped her Sisyphean quest two days before International Women’s Day.

On the other side of the political divide, US Vice President Kamala Harris is set for another run for the vice presidency alongside President Joe Biden, having notched the record of the first woman elected to the position that is just a heartbeat away from the world’s most powerful job.

While the two women have the highest profiles in politics, many Indian American women shine across the spectrum of politics, government, business and beyond.

They have soared into space, headed multinational corporations, led universities, and showing their versatility, served undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and even took the Miss America crown.

Although overrun by former President Donald Trump, Nikki Haley made her mark by standing up to him while other competitors folded and she struck out a line of Republican politics that could have a wider appeal.

She put her stamp on politics by getting a significant chunk of votes – estimated at about 25 per cent of those cast in the Republican primaries till she quit – winning in one state, Vermont, and in Washington, the federal District of Columbia.

She also has the distinction of being elected twice as the governor of South Carolina, the first woman and the first non-White person to head the state, and the first Indian American to be a member of the US cabinet when she was the permanent representative to the United Nations, a post with cabinet rank.

Kamala Harris made her mark as California’s attorney general lofting her to the Senate where her work got her national recognition, paving the way to the second most powerful job in the US, the vice president.

She is the first woman to become vice president and she was also the first person of Indian descent elected to the US Senate.

Pramila Jayapal, who heads the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, is the other politically powerful Indian American woman.

What helps them shatter glass ceilings despite their being women and, on top of that, women of color with immigrant backgrounds is a society that values merit as it steadily tries to bring down barriers to women’s advancement.

And they are not dynasts or nepobabies, either, and they got to where they are through their own merit.

As Nikki Haley said on Wednesday while announcing she was ending her race, “Just last week, my mother, a first-generation immigrant, got to vote for her daughter for president – only in America”.

In business, Indra Nooyi created a legend of her own as the CEO of Pepsico, a multinational corporation with over 300,000 employees operating in over 200 countries having a revenue of $62 billion in her final year heading it.

By the time she left in 2018 after 12 years as CEO, she boosted its annual profits from $2.5 billion to $6.7 billion as she chartered a new, more diversified course for the company.

Revathi Advaithi is the CEO of Flex, a global diversified company that is the third-largest globally in electronics manufacturing services.

She also serves on the US government’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Padmasree Warrior, who blazed a trail as chief technology officer for marquee technology companies Motorola and Cisco and as the US CEO of the Chinese electric vehicle company Nio, is now the CEO of a startup Fable.

In academia, there are scores of Indian American Women heading departments and schools.

Among them are heads of large universities, Neeli Bendapudi, the president of Pennsylvania State University and Renu Khator, the chancellor of the University of Houston System.

Asha Rangappa, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent-turned-academic, has served as an associate dean of Yale University Law School.

Indian American women have soared into space as astronauts.

Kalpana Chawla, a mission specialist and robotic arms operator, was killed on her second mission when the space shuttle Columbia broke up as it reentered the earth’s atmosphere in 2003.

Sunita Williams has done a stint as the commander of the International Space Station (ISS), on one of her four missions at the multinational orbiting research facility.

The Bhagwad Gita and the Upanishad went to space with Williams, who said that for inspiration she took them along to the ISS, from where she conducted spacewalks.

On Earth as a Navy officer, Sunita Williams was deployed during the first Gulf War and later she became a test pilot.

While the other two were on NASA space missions, aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla went up on a spacecraft of the private venture by Virgin Galactic, where she is a vice president.

Geeta Gopinath is the first managing director of the International Monetary Fund, having made her mark as an economist in the Ivy League and as the organization’s chief economist.

In the US judiciary, there are several Indian American women, among them Neomi Rao, a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considered the most influential court below the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration has deployed Indian American Women in senior positions across government.

The most visible of them on media after Kamala Harris is Defense Department’s Deputy Spokesperson Sabrina Singh who often conducts the Pentagon’s media briefings laying out the administration’s strategic positions.

Also at that department, Radha Iyengar Plumb is the deputy under-secretary of defense.

At the White House, Neera Tanden, a veteran of Democratic Party campaigns, is an assistant to the president and domestic policy advisor.

Arati Prabhakar is the assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Science Advisor while heading the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and to the President.

Shanthi Kalathil is a deputy assistant to the President and the National Security Council’s coordinator for democracy and human rights.

At the State Department, Uzra Zeya is the under-secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, and Rao Gupta is the ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

And, in the other party, Harmeet Dhillon is a member Republican National Committee who ran an unsuccessful insurgent campaign to replace the chair, Ronna McDaniel. She is a co-chair of Women for Trump and Lawyers for Trump, groups that advocate for Trump.

In an unusual occupation was Sabrina De Souza who had served in a senior role as an undercover Central Intelligence Agency agent.

Unfortunately, her cover was blown while she was on an anti-terrorism mission in Italy and that country has tried to prosecute her for capturing a terrorist who was taken to the US.

On the other side, showing the diversity of political views, Gitanjali S. Gutierrez worked as a lawyer defending an alleged terrorist held by the US detention center on Guantanamo Bay.

On the trade unions front, Bhairavi Desai is the executive director of the Taxi Drivers’ Alliance, and Saru Jayaraman has organized restaurant workers in New York City.

In entertainment, Vera Mindy Chokalingam, better known as Mindy Kaling, made her mark with the sitcom, The Mindy Kaling Project, which she created, produced and starred in.

Biden awarded her the National Medal of the Arts in 2022. And, further into the unexpected venues, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in 2014. (IANS)

With The Security Council ‘Crumbling’, India Says ‘Naysayers’ Should Be Stopped From Blocking UN Reforms

A 12-member group of countries known as Uniting for Consensus, which is led by Italy and has Pakistan as a leading member, has used procedural tactics to prevent the adoption of a negotiating text because they oppose expanding the permanent membership of the Council, a demand of the majority of UN’s 193 members.

With the UN Security Council “crumbling under the weight of 21st-century geopolitical realities”, India has said that “naysayers” should be stopped from blocking its reform. The negotiations for reforming the Council that was started 14 years ago should be made to deliver concrete outcomes within a fixed time frame, Pratik Mathur, a counsellor at India’s Mission, said on Tuesday at a meeting on revitalising the 193-member General Assembly.

“Naysayers cannot be allowed to hold the intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) process hostage in perpetuity”, he said referring to the machinery set up by the Assembly for Council reform. He said that the reform negotiations should adopt a text-based process and not be blocked by procedural tactics.

The IGN is stalled because it has been prevented from adopting a negotiating text that would form the basis of discussions to progress by setting a firm agenda and recording the points of convergence and divergence that need to be worked on.

A 12-member group of countries known as Uniting for Consensus, which is led by Italy and has Pakistan as a leading member, has used procedural tactics to prevent the adoption of a negotiating text because they oppose expanding the permanent membership of the Council, a demand of the majority of UN’s 193 members.

With The Security Council ‘Crumbling’ India Says ‘Naysayers’ Should Be Stopped From Blocking UN Reforms Indian Defence Resrach Wing)
Picture: Indian Defence Resrach Wing

Mathur said that there was “widespread recognition that the current architecture is anachronistic, and indeed ineffective” and in a reference to the exclusion of Africa and Latin America from permanent membership he said that it was “deeply unfair” as it denied “entire continents and regions of voice in a forum that deliberates their future”.

“We need an all-encompassing comprehensive reform process, which includes expansion of categories, both permanent as well as non-permanent seats in the Security Council”, he said.

The basic architecture of the Council is stuck in the post-World War II scenario when the five victors assumed permanent membership and veto powers that came with it for themselves and the UN’s membership was 51 while most of the world was under the colonial yoke of two permanent members.

The Council’s veto and the relationship between the Assembly and the Council should also be considered against “the backdrop of the prevailing global scenario”, he said.

The Council is ineffective in the two major contemporary conflicts, Ukraine and Gaza, unable to even demand a cease-fire because of the veto powers of the permanent members.

The Council is “crumbling” and it “has turned some of the tides towards the General Assembly, giving us more face time and traction, where the voice of Global South is a formidable force, unlike what is the case in the Security Council”, Mathur said.

Even though the Assembly has no enforcement powers, took steps to make the permanent members of the Council morally answerable for the exercise of veto powers.

Whenever a permanent member vetoes resolutions at the Council, it now has to appear before the Assembly and explain its action while also facing criticism from other UN members.

The Assembly has also passed resolutions echoing the sentiments of the vetoed Council resolutions by large majorities.  (Read more at:

How China Influenced US-India Ties In The Last 76 Years

As the US tries to break the stranglehold of China on its supply chains, especially in hi-tech, India is emerging as a venue for what is now called ‘friendshoring’ – developing manufacturing in friendly countries that can be reliable partners. From being a recipient of food aid from the US seven decades ago, India has emerged as a partner in defence, space, health and technology.

China, intriguingly, has been a constant factor in the trajectory of India-United States relations, putting them at odds in the first years after Independence but now propelling them to the apex.

In the years after Independence, India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru backed Beijing while the US supported Taiwan laying the foundation for the many differences between them that would continue in many forms. Now it is China with its aggressive postures from the Himalayas to the South China Sea and beyond that helping strengthen bonds between India and US that share worries about it.

Eurasia Review

Yet, even as the two largest democracies draw closer, a shadow of ambiguity persists in their ties.

India still will not back the US unambiguously, is still dangerously reliant on Russia for defence, and is wary of going too far in provoking China while appearing with them on international forums. And it is the China factor that makes Washington so forgiving of India’s neutrality ignoring calls, especially in the US media tinged with hostility to India, especially under the BJP.

Those in the administration with an unblinkered view of geopolitics know that were India to break with Russia, its defences would be degraded making it vulnerable to China and thus reduce its value as a strategic partner.

Leaving geopolitics aside, perhaps the most momentous development is a person of Indian heritage, Kamala Harris, holding the second highest office in the US – something Franklin D Roosevelt, the US president who laid the groundwork for India becoming free of the colonial yoke, might not have dreamt of.

How initial warmth turned to fissures

Modern India’s ties to the US can be traced to Roosevelt forcing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the archetypical racist colonialist, into signing the 1941 Atlantic Charter promising independence for colonies with a clause about self-determination.

“America won’t help England in this war simply so that she will be able to continue to ride roughshod over colonial peoples”, Roosevelt is said to have warned the imperialist.

Roosevelt, who tried unsuccessfully to have an emissary mediate between the British and India’s Independence movement leaders, could not force Churchill to implement it as long as World War II was raging. But ultimately, Roosevelt’s idea prevailed and India became free under both their successors, US President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Clement Atlee.

Truman had high expectations of a democratic India and sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru his own plane to bring him from London and went out of his way to greet him on arrival and feted him in 1949.

But China intervened. With Cold War both leaders were hung up on China – Truman was backing Taiwan, then officially recognised as China at the UN and was set against a Communist Beijing, and wanted Nehru, who was behind Mao Zedong, to switch sides.

That was the first overt sign of the fissures between the two countries, yet about three-quarters of a century later, it is China that is drawing them closer.

Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared Nehru “one of the most difficult persons”. Shortly after the visit, Nehru declared more firmly the policy of not aligning with blocs, which would later become the concept of non-alignment.

In the Korean War that broke out a year later when the US and Beijing’s forces clashed, India stood neutral, much to the chagrin of Washington.

But the US continued with economic assistance for India and in 1951 Truman pushed through the India Emergency Food Assistance Act when India faced severe food shortage.

The 1962 China war and aftermatch

Engulfed in an ideological fog, Nehru ramped up his rhetoric of nonalignment,  which in effect was perceived as critical of the West. The tenuous relationship with Washington continued with a slight warming of ties between Nehru and the wartime general President Dwight Eisenhower, who expressed respect for Nehru in his memoir. In 1959, Eisenhower became the first US president to visit India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan had grown closer to the US, joining the two now-defunct defence collectives, SEATO and CENTO, and benefitted militarily from the US.

India Today

The China war in 1962 shocked Nehru into reality and temporarily abandoning his veneer of nonalignment sought US military aid from President John F Kennedy, which he received.

The Soviet Union, which had broken up with China, began supplying arms to India, notably the MIG21 fighter jets, although the supply began after the war.

The Kennedy administration initially supported Nehru’s request for setting up a massive state-owned steel plant at Bokaro, viewed as a socialist project it faced political opposition. Moscow stepped in to help India set up the steel plant further deepening ties between the two countries.

That was further strengthened at the cost of Washington during the 1965 Pakistan War when Islamabad flung advanced US weaponry at India, which was using mostly British and Soviet arms.

Yet, when the danger of famine loomed over India, President Lyndon Johnson rushed food aid to India in 1966, while also extracting promises to reform agriculture and to tone down criticism of the US internationally. India and the US had already been collaborating in agriculture development and what was probably the greatest achievement in India-US cooperation followed, helping India achieve food self-sufficiency through the Green Revolution in a few short years and making it one of the nations that can extend food aid to others.

The 1971 Bangladesh and dip in ties

The 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence is the nadir in New Delhi-Washington relations. A month before the War, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Washington and met with President Richard Nixon, asking for help to temper the Pakistani military crackdown on what was then East Pakistan and to deal with the crisis of refugees fleeing army terror.

His vulgar personal comments about Indira Gandhi and about Indians emerged from White House tapes that were made public decades later.

Given the deep ties with Pakistan and Islamabad acting as the broker for the US to establish relations with China, Nixon made the infamous “tilt” to Pakistan and tried to intimidate India by sending the Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal.

Under Presidents Jimmy Carter, who visited India, Ronald Reagan, who warmly received both Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv who succeeded her, and George Bush, the senior, the two countries plodded on with no breakthroughs in their relations.

India’s nuclear test brought sanctions against it from President Bill Clinton, marking another diplomacy dip between the two nations.

Although relations with India had had a rocky start at the start of his administration due to Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s perceived hostility, Clinton came through when Pakistan sent its forces into Kargil in Kashmir in 1999.

A war seeming likely when India began to root out Islamabad’s forces, Clinton called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington and read him the riot act, forcing him and then-military chief Pervez Musharraf to withdraw their troops.

The beginning of the embrace

With the emergence of the Indian American community and the onset of India’s economic liberalisation, Clinton started the steps that have led to the embrace of the two countries now.

His visit to India the next year, was the first visit by a US president in 22 years, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to Washington the same year.

A bipartisan consensus on cooperation with India was becoming entrenched and President George W Bush in 2001 ended all the sanctions against India, that were already beginning to be relaxed.

The 2001 terrorist attack on the US that was orchestrated by Pakistan’s allies in Afghanistan brought a sense of urgency to New Delhi’s and Washington’s war on terror, even as Islamabad took advantage of its geography in the US invasion of Afghanistan.

India and the US began joint military exercises in 2002 and in 2005 signed an agreement on the framework for defence cooperation.

That year the two countries also signed the landmark Civil Nuclear Agreement that allowed them to resume cooperation in the area, while having an impact beyond their borders facilitating trade in nuclear equipment and materials.

The agreement became the centre-piece of the era of Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Singh visited Washington in 2005 to discuss it, and in 2008 after it was ok’d by Congress, while Bush went to India in 2006 to finalise it, and during that trip the two countries agreed to increase trade and loosen restrictions.

Singh returned to Washington the next year on a state visit at the invitation of President Barack Obama, and made another visit in 2013. The cerebral Indian leader bonded with the intellectual American and the relations in economy and defence took off.

China has again taken the centre in the relations between the US and India, but this time with a convergence – India jolted from the Nehruvian illusion and the US waking up to the looming threats in the economy, trade and, more importantly, security.

The Quad, the group of India, the US, Australia and Japan, that was to play a greater role later on was launched in 2007, but collapsed quickly when Canberra cooled towards Washington.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without ideological baggage and with a fresh outlook on the world, opened up the avenues for ties that bind closer. Once shunned by the US, his election made Washington realise the new realities of India and Obama quickly invited him to visit in 2014.

He arrived like a rock star feted by tens of thousands of Indian Americans. Besides vowing to boost trade, the two leaders turned their focus to climate change and agree on programmes on green energy.

Obama was the guest at India’s Republic  Day celebration the next year.

In 2016, Modi addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time and the US gave India the status of Major Defence Partner, which led to an agreement on an agreement to deepen military cooperation

At President Donald Trump’s invitation, Modi visited Washington in 2017 and in 2019 the two of them went together to Houston and paraded at an event billed as “Howdy Modi” that drew about 50,000 people.

Trump went to India in 2020 for his last foreign trip as president and was greeted by a roaring crowd of about 100,000 in Ahmedabad.

During the Covid pandemic, India sent some medicines at the request of Trump, as well as some medical supplies, while the US sent medical equipment.

While New Delhi was already sending vaccines to many countries, the Quad which was revived in 2017 devised a joint programme to provide developing countries with vaccines made by India.

On the trade front, Modi’s “Make in India” clashed with Trump’s “America First” resulting in a mini-trade-war. Trump ended preferential trade status for some Indian products under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences programme asserting that New Delhi does not give “equitable” access to Indian markets for some US products – among them whisky and motorcycles.

India retaliated by hiking tariffs on 28 products, among them almonds, and the US hit back with more duties on Indian aluminium and steel imports.

But they went ahead on the defence and security front, signing a slew of pacts including the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that gives New Delhi access to advanced technologies and realtime military data and the  Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for intelligence-sharing.

What Next for U.S.-India Military Ties?

A new agreement between top U.S. and Indian officials will deepen military cooperation and bolster strategic tie…

The unthinkable happens

When President Joe Biden came into office and the full impact of China on security, trade and the economy hit him, he revved up cooperation with India.

The Quad meetings were raised to summit status and Modi attended it in Washington in 2021.

Ignoring opposition from the vociferous left in the Democratic Party and the ideologically liberal mainstream media, Biden invited Modi for a state visit last month.

Not only was the US selling India advanced military equipment worth several billions of dollars, but it was also authorising the production of military jet engines jointly in India while promoting cooperation in defence production, something unthinkable some years ago.

(The writer is Nonresident Fellow, Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi, Views are personal)   Read more at:

Is China’s Influence Declining Globally

China’s Influence at the world body – a barometer of its global clout – measured by a recent secret electoral vote has shown a downward drift even as it maintains an iron grip on power at the UN Security Council because of its veto powers. China went head-to-head against India in elections at the 53-member UN Economic and Social Council for the UN Statistical Commission: India polled 46 votes, while China came in third with 19 votes, behind South Korea with 23.

And, in a second round of balloting for the second seat on the commission for the Asia Pacific region, China tied with South Korea with 25 votes each, and Seoul got the seat in a draw of lots. It was a big change for China pushing its goal of global dominance.

The difference between New Delhi and Beijing is stark in a changed situation where China’s largesse increasingly looks like a usurious power play while India is leading the efforts to restructure the crushing debts of the developing countries.

Beijing poured hundreds of billions of dollars into its web of One Belt One Road initiative across the world and the bills are coming due to the recipients.

As the president of the G20, India has positioned itself as the voice of the Global South, while avoiding strident anti-imperialist/anti-neocolonial rhetoric, and this has put India on the opposite side to China, which probably is the biggest direct lender, although other countries and multinational institutions are also in the ranks of lenders.

At the G20 finance ministers meeting in February, India pushed proposals for the big lenders — especially China — to take a “haircut” – write off portions of loans – to give relief to the debtor nations as they struggle from the economic crisis from the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine war.

At the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings in Washington this month, India again took centrestage as a co-chair with the heads of those organisations of the Global Sovereign Debt Restructuring Roundtable to find a solution to the debt crisis.

As global polarisation accelerates, China is the leading force on one side of the divide, and in a choice between India and China, especially if the ballot is secret, the preference appears to be to the sort of neutral country.

To counter China’s attempts to get elected to international bodies, especially in leadership positions, the foreign ministers of the Quad, made up of India, the US, Japan and Australia, declared their commitment last month to “independent” candidates.

After their meeting, they said in a joint statement, “We will support meritorious and independent candidates for elections in the UN and in international forums to maintain the integrity and impartiality of the international system”.

While China’s grip may loosen in anonymous elections, in open voting it still can use its position as a lender to advantage as it did at the UN Human Rights Council last October when a proposal to discuss China’s alleged human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang Province was voted down.

It has a steely hold on the most important body of the UN, the Security Council where it can wield its veto as a permanent member or like any member on its committees like the ones for terrorism sanctions.

China has blocked several times attempts to designate Pakistan-based operatives behind attacks on India as global terrorists, which would place them under international sanctions.

But it has had to relent in some cases under international pressure. Beijing agreed in January to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Deputy Chief Abdul Rehman Makki after having blocked it earlier.

In 2019, China lifted its block on Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohamme (JeM).

But it continues to block adding to the international terrorist list LeT leaders Sajid Mir and Shahid Mahmood, and JeM leader Abdul Rauf Azhar.

In the long range, Beijing can also block the expansion of the Security Council’s permanent membership, although it is already facing pressure from the African nations, a constituency it has sought to cultivate.

Organisationally, China uses the power of the purse for influence. It is the second largest contributor to the UN’s budget sending $438 million last year.

It gets it a measure of deference from UN officials.

The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet admitted that she had been under “tremendous pressure” over a report on China’s human rights violations against the Uyghurs. She published the report only on her last day in office after delaying its release for several years.

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UNSC Is Not Inclusive If That Excludes World’s Largest Democracy

A UN Security Council (UNSC) that denies permanent membership to the world’s largest democracy cannot be considered inclusive and the first step to “future-proof” the world organisation would be to reform the Security Council, according to India.

“The reform of the UNSC is the fundamental starting step towards ‘Futureproofing Trust for Sustaining Peace’,” India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj said on Wednesday.

“Is the UNSC in its present form — which denies permanent representation to entire continents of Africa, Latin America and the world’s largest democracy — can it be deemed to be ‘inclusive’,” she asked at an open debate at the Council.

If the Council “is to continue to engender trust and confidence” in its ability to lead the world, it must better represent the developing countries, Kamboj said.

With the interminable inter-governmental negotiation, as the reform process is called, set to meet on Thursday, she asked if it can be credible and effective without a time frame to conclude the discussions, she asked.

The open debate on “future-proofing” the UN to ensure its credibility and effectiveness, was convened by Switzerland, which is holding the Council presidency for the first time.

Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis who presided over the meeting said that “we have to admit that we have not sufficiently taken account the frustrations and changes taking place on both sides of our planet” with the UN.

He said that it was necessary “to consider how this Council can strengthen the foundations of a broader peace architecture, which “must be inclusive and include those whom the population has designated as democratically legitimate”.

In addition to the Council, Kamboj said: “Multilateral institutions must be made more accountable to their membership, they must be open and welcoming to a diversity of viewpoints, particularly from the global South.”

Drawing attention to India’s role as the president of the G20 — the group of major developed and emerging economies — Kamboj said that New Delhi “is committed to forging consensus through the G20 process in the effort to find solutions to global challenges”. (IANS)

Gandhi’s Trusteeship Doctrine Through Human-Centric Global Development

United Nations– India is practicing Mahatma Gandhi’s doctrine of trusteeship in the contemporary world by following “a human-centric global development approach, not a self-centered model”, according to India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj.

Speaking on Thursday at a roundtable here on Gandhian Trusteeship, she said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would carry this through during India’s Presidency of the G20, the group of the major industrialized and emerging economies.

She said that according to him India will be the voice of the developing South “whose voices are frequently ignored” and share “India’s experiences, lessons learned and growth models during our G20 Presidency”.

India is guided by the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, the “world being one large interconnected family”, and has emerged as the “first responder” to the crises around the world showing “altruism of the highest kind” as during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She listed India’s most recent responses to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and to the crises in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Mozambique, among other countries.

She said that India’s slogan for G20, “One earth, one family, one future”, simply means, “ee may be different nations, but humanity is one”.

The roundtable on Gandhian principles took place as the General Assembly was voting next door on a resolution on the Ukraine-Russia war.

“What I find very, very powerful is that we are talking about peace about non-violence” while the Assembly was seized with the Ukraine crisis.

Norway’s Deputy Permanent Representative Trine Heimerback said that in today’s world Gandhi’s doctrine of trusteeship means “multilateral cooperation and global solutions for global challenges”.

This approach operationalizes the trusteeship doctrine through efforts to realise UN’s sustainable development goals, she said.

The goals are “all about responsibility, equitable trusteeship for a planet and for the common good of humanity, and when countries use their comparative advantages to advance SDG agenda, so much can still be achieved”, she said.

Dean of the University of Peace Jaun Carlos Sainz-Borgo said that as a Latino from the Caribbean, the idea of using the tools of peace to fight against a colonial power made an impression on him.

Recalling his introduction to Gandhi from the 1982 movie starring Ben Kingsley, which he followed up by reading books, he said that popular media can be an important way to communicate ideas to a broader section of people.

The movie “really opened my eyes to the complexities of the role (of Gandhi), even though (there was) the oversimplification of a movie, especially a Hollywood movie”, he said.

“But as an educator and as a representative of a university, it is very important to really take into consideration that we cannot neglect any platform for education. You know, sometimes the type of tools they can make, really open up the interest of many people that you wouldn’t address otherwise.”

Joel Rosenthal, the president of Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, recalled Gandhi’s terse letter to the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “all rights to be deserved and preserved come from duties well done”.

“That’s basically all Gandhi had to say, in terms of his advice to the drafters,” he said.

“Today, empathy and mutuality are losing out due to identity politics, blood and soil nationalism in winner-take-all economics”, but “a return to the idea of human flourishing, echoing Gandhi might help turn the tide”, he added. (IANS)

India Continues As World’s Fastest-Growing Economy With 5.8% Growth Rate

United Nations– India will remain the fastest-growing major economy recording a growth of 5.8 per cent this year, while the rest of the world will grow by a paltry 1.9 per cent, the UN said on Thursday.

The UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report sliced off 0.2 per cent from the 6 per cent gross domestic product growth projection made last May without affecting India’s rank as the country faces headwinds from the global economy.

Overall, the report said: “Growth in India is expected to remain strong at 5.8 per cent, albeit slightly lower than the estimated 6.4 per cent in 2022, as higher interest rates and a global slowdown weigh on investment and exports.” Next year, the UN expects India’s economy to grow by 6.7 per cent.

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The WESP gave a positive picture of India’s jobs scene, noting that its “unemployment rate dropped to a four-year low of 6.4 per cent in India, as the economy added jobs both in urban and rural areas in 2022”. For the world, the WESP forecast is 1.9 per cent this year and rising to 2.7 per cent next year.

In New Delhi, India’s President Droupadi Murmu credited India’s economic performance to “its leadership. India has been among the fastest-growing major economies because of the timely and proactive interventions of the government. The ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, in particular, has evoked great response among the people at large,” Murmu said in her Republic Day speech.

China, which came in second, is projected to grow by 4.8 per cent this year and 4.5 next year, after a 3% growth in 2022. The US economy, which grew by 2.9% this year is projected to grow by 0.4% this year and 1.7 per cent the next.

For South Asia as a whole, the report said the region’s “economic outlook has significantly deteriorated due to high food and energy prices, monetary tightening and fiscal vulnerabilities” and it forecast a 4.8 percent growth year and 5.9 percent next year.

This was buoyed by India as the report said: “The prospects are more challenging for other economies in the region. Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka sought financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2022.”

Rashid attributed the Indian economy’s growth to three factors: falling unemployment that signals strong domestic demand; easing of inflation, and lower import bills.

He said that the “unemployment rate has come down significantly in the last four years” to 6.4 per cent and “that means the domestic demand has been pretty strong”.

The WESP said that this occurred because “the economy added jobs both in urban and rural areas in 2022”.

“The inflation pressure also has eased quite significantly,” Rashid said with the year-on-year inflation rate to be 5.5 per cent this year and 5 per cent next year.

“That means that the central bank would not have to be aggressive over monetary tightening,” he said.

India has also benefitted to from lower imports, especially energy import cost that has been lower than in previous years, he added.

“I think this is a sustainable growth rate for India, given India also has a significant number of people living in poverty. So this would be a great boost if India can sustain this growth rate in the near term,” Rashid said.

He also pointed to two risk factors for India’s economy mainly emanating from the global situation.

One is from higher interest rates that would raise the debt servicing cost which has exceeded 20 per cent of the budget, he said.

“That is a significantly high debt servicing cost and that would probably have some drag on the growth prospect,” he said.

The second risk is from global external demands falling.

If Europe and the US go into a very slow growth mode resulting in lower global exports, the world economy may suffer, Rashid said.

“But on the balance, we believe that Indian economy is on a strong footing given the strong domestic demand in the near term,” he said.

For South Asia as a whole, the report said the region’s “economic outlook has significantly deteriorated due to high food and energy prices, monetary tightening and fiscal vulnerabilities” and it forecast a 4.8 per cent growth year and 5.9 per cent next year.

This was buoyed by India as the report said, “The prospects are more challenging for other economies in the region. Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka sought financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2022.”

Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have gone to the International Monetary Fund for help. Rashid said, “We call for greater international support in this difficult time for countries, especially countries that are facing significant challenges with debt burden and again we call for more meaningful restructuring of debt.”

“It might be more prudent and may make more economic sense to re-profile the debt, reschedule the debt, (the) external debt burden,” he said. But he said that the assistance should not go into consumption, but into investment in “productive capacity (that) can be very important driver of both short-term recovery and long-term resilience”.

Indian American Scientist Named Primary Contributor To Invention Of Moderna’s Covid Vaccine

An Indian American scientist has been identified by Moderna as the primary contributor to its Covid-19 vaccine. A filing by the company for its patent application for the coronavirus vaccine using the revolutionary RNA technique listed Pune-educated bioinformatics scientist Mihir Metkar as the “first named inventor,” a designation that usually recognizes the primary contributor to the invention.

He is also listed as one of the inventors in two other Covid-19 vaccine patent applications by Moderna to the U.S. Patent Office. Moderna is of the new class of vaccines that use what is called messenger RNA (mRNA) that cause the body to create some proteins similar to that in the Covid-19 virus and trigger the body’s immune system to make antibodies that will fight the coronavirus if it invades the body. (Conventional vaccines use either dead viruses or parts of them or a modified version of the gene of a different virus.)

Metkar’s identification as the “first named inventor” is in the document filed by Moderna to dispute the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health assertion that its scientists should also be credited as inventors of the vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with it and with $1.53 billion provided by the administration of former President Donald Trump under the Operation Warp Speed program to quickly produce vaccines.

Vladimir Presnyak and Guillaume Stewart-Jones are listed after him in the original application for the patent. Metkar received his MSc degree from the Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at the Savitribai Phule Pune University and worked at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune as a project assistant before coming to the United States, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He did his Ph.D. at the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and worked there as a post-doctoral fellow, before joining Moderna in 2018, the profile said. In a separate patent filing, Moderna listed Sunny Himansu, who has an MBBS degree, as one of the two inventors of the Betacoronavirus Vaccine.

Moderna’s vaccine is one of the two main vaccines in the U.S. and about 164 million doses of it have been given so far in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, millions of people have been vaccinated in Europe and elsewhere with the Moderna vaccine.

The other main vaccine used in the U.S. is the Pfizer-Biontech, which was developed in Germany and uses mRNA. A third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is also used in the U.S. It was developed by J&J’s Jansen Pharmaceutical, whose global head of research and development is Mathai Mammen.

The patent document naming Metkar as the “first named inventor” was filed on behalf of Moderna by an intellectual property law firm asserting that the three NIH scientists who collaborated with them should not be considered co-inventors as the NIH has asked.

If the NIH scientists are recognized as co-inventors, the NIH and the government may be entitled to receive a share of royalties from the use of the patents and also be able to allow others to make the vaccine.

An NGO, Public Citizen, has pointed out in a letter to the head of the NIH that co-ownership of the patent “can empower the U.S. government to authorize” other manufacturers around the world to use some of the patents to make the vaccine. The group said that with “huge gaps in global vaccine access” the need for the government to exercise control over the vaccine technology “only grows more urgent.”

India Joins Allies To Push For UNSC Reforms

United Nations– India and its three allies in the quest for Security Council reform have called for a determined push for the adoption of a text for conducting the negotiations and to set a time-frame for the changes.The foreign ministers of the G4 group “expressed their strong determination to work towards launching text-based negotiations without further delay in the IGN (Intergovernmental Negotiations), on the basis of a single document, with a view to its adoption in the General Assembly,” according to their joint statement issued after a meeting on Wednesday.

They also “decided to intensify dialogue with all interested Member States, including other reform-minded countries and groups, in order to seek concrete outcomes in a definite time-frame,” the statement said. The reform process known as the Intergovernmental Negotiaitons (IGN) has been crippled by its failure to adopt a negotiating text on which to base the discussions and proceed.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Foreign Ministers Carlos Alberto Franco Franca of Brazil, Heiko Maas of Germany and Motegi Toshimitsu of Japan met on the sidelines of the high-level meeting of the Assembly to evaluate the progress of the negotiations for reforms and map out future strategy.

The four countries work together for reforming the Security Council and support each other for permanent seats on a reformed body. A small group of countries known as United for Consensus (UfC) has blocked the IGN from adopting a negotiating text so the reform process can proceed. The UfC is led by Italy and includes Pakistan.

The Security Council last underwent changes in 1965 and since then the membership of the UN has increased from 117 to 193 with many of the new members coming from Africa, where the UN has most peacekeeping operations. The four ministers “expressed their strong support to the Common African Position (CAP) as enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration” of the African Union.

The documents call for expanding the Council to give African nations two permanent seats.

The ministers said that it was essential “to reform the Security Council through an expansion of both categories, permanent and non-permanent seats, to enable the Security Council to better deal with the ever-complex and evolving challenges to the maintenance of international peace and security, and thereby to carry out its duties more effectively.”

The permanent membership of the Council is stuck at five — giving the leaders of the winning side in World War II a grip on its agenda — often leading to its immobilisation because of their veto powers. (IANS)

Biden, Harris Pledge To Work With Asians On Immigration Reforms

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have pledged to work with the Asian community on immigration reforms, according to the White House. Last weekday, the two leaders told representatives of the Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community that they supported providing a path to citizenship for essential workers, farm labour, people from nations like Nepal and Myanmar who are given temporary protection status against deportation because of unsettled conditions in their home countries, and those who were brought to the US illegally when they were children.

Biden and Harris said they backed achieving this by using the budget process known to get the necessary legislation for it through the Senate, where the Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed for passing a separate law for it.

But their plan for urgent action through the budget process does not seem to cover the several thousands of Indian children who came to the country legally and followed the immigration rules and are threatened with deportation as soon as they turn 21 even while their parents are still legally waiting for their green cards or permanent immigrant status.

The White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday, July 5, announced the new comprehensive immigration bill that US President Joe Biden has proposed, and about the administration’s move on ‘documented dreamers’ including children of H1B visa holders.

Neil Makhija, the executive director of Indian American Impact, told reporters that he “raised issues of immigration, voting rights and specifically green card backlog in context of explaining how country caps are remnants of exclusionary laws in the past, particularly enacted in the 20s.”

Asked at her briefing about the protection for these children, Biden’s spokesperson Jen Psaki said that helping them was not in the current legislative effort through the budget legislation. “It’s not in the current, I think it’s not in the current discussions, but it is something the President would like to address.”

Psaki added that it is something that Biden “has proposed addressing in a comprehensive immigration bill”, and supports giving these children protection.

While the parents stay here on their H1-B or H4 visas and wait for green cards, their children will not be eligible to continue on their H-4 visas as soon as they turn 21 and can be deported.

This affects Indians because the wait for green cards is more than decade, a period long enough for many children to turn 21.

Ironically, if they had come in illegally or failed to follow the immigration laws, they would have received special consideration from the Democrats who give priority to illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal has reported quoting a State Department official that 100,000 green cards meant for those eligible because of their work status will go to waste if they are not distributed by the end of September.

Most of those affected will be Indians working in the tech sector “who have been waiting to become permanent residents in the US and are watching a prime opportunity to win a green card slip away”, the newspaper said.

The Journal said that this was because the government was not able to handle the green card applications because of backlogs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the green cards not handed out by the end of next month will expire.

The newspaper pointed out that the the Democrats are trying to make six million people illegally in the country eligible for green cards through their $3.5-million budget package they are trying to get Congress to pass.

The loss of the 100,000 green cards would affect those who came to the country legally and have abided by the immigration laws. (IANS)

S. Jaishankar Discusses Covid Vaccines, Terrorism At UN

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has offered India’s support to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his re-election during a meeting in New York at which they discussed a range of issues from Covid-19 vaccines to terrorism.In a tweet after the meeting May 25, Jaishankar said that he told Guterres that India “values” his leadership and conveyed its support for his election to a second term. The global crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic featured prominently in their discussions.

Jaishankar tweeted that they emphasized the importance of finding “urgent and effective global vaccine solutions” and the critical need to ramp up the vaccine supply chain to “ensure greater production and fairer distribution.”With India set to assume the rotating presidency of the Security Council in August, their meeting covered a wide range of issues.In a series of tweets on the meeting, Jaishankar said that they talked about “regional challenges in India’s neighborhood” and “shared our concerns about ensuring that the gains of the last two decades in Afghanistan are adequately protected.”

U.S. President Joe Biden is pulling out the nation’s troops from Afghanistan after a 20-year deployment even as terrorist activities continue raising fears of regional instability.In his tweets Jaishankar said, “Countering terrorism and radicalization remain priorities for the entire region.”Jaishankar said that he “highlighted India’s constructive role” in the Security Council and “conveyed priorities of our presidency in August.” He added, “Maritime security and technology for peacekeeping address the needs of the day.”

A spokesperson for India’s UN Mission said that India planned to hold high-level meetings on those topics during its presidency. Jaishankar also noted that Guterres expressed “appreciation of India’s peacekeeping operations including at Goma, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) recently.”India peacekeepers based in Goma have been involved in rescue operations after the eruption of the Mount Nayargongo volcano displaced several thousand people in the region last week. Several hundred people are also missing following the calamity.

Climate change, a topic that Guterres gives top priority to, also was discussed, Jaishankar tweeted. “Greater resources are essential for larger ambitions (in setting goals for combatting climate change). Financing will determine our seriousness and credibility,” he added.The spokesperson for India’s UN mission said that Jaishankar “apprised the Secretary General of India’s efforts to meet its Paris commitments (on curbing greenhouse emissions), enhance renewable energy goals, as well as its leadership role in the International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.”

Jaishankar “underlined our strong development partnership with Africa, Small States and Small Island Developing States,” the spokesperson said. “The Secretary-General conveyed his appreciation for the consistent role played by Indian peacekeepers in support of international peace and security. Their response in aiding the people of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the volcanic eruption was recognized,” the diplomat added.In the discussion of fighting Covid-19, they felt that “the proposal by India and South Africa for a temporary waiver of vaccine patents “can also contribute to greater production and more equity,” the spokesperson said. The U.S. has agreed to the waiver, but it is facing opposition from several countries including Germany.

Guterres’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that they “discussed a number of issues relating to peace and security” but said he had no further details on those topics. He also said that they discussed the Covid situation and the development of vaccines.Guterres is running for re-election with no credible opposition and in the election India gets two votes, one in the Security Council and another in the General Assembly. A Canadian of Indian descent, Arora Akanksha, has declared she is running for the office, as have at least five others, but lacking a government sponsorship, their candidacy has not so far been accepted officially.

U.S. International Religious Freedom Report: India Encouraged to Consult Religious Communities

International Religious Freedom senior official Dan Nadel, speaking at a news conference to announce the annual International Religious Freedom Report at the State Department in Washington, DC, on May 12, 2021, said: “When laws are passed, when initiatives are undertaken that are done without effective consultation with these communities, it creates a sense of disempowerment…the best way to address that is to engage in that direct dialogue between government and civil society, including religious communities.” (Andrew Harnik/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A senior State Department official dealing with religious freedom said the U.S. is regularly engaging with Indian officials on protecting the rights of minorities and the government has opportunities to address the concerns of civil society groups.Briefing reporters about the 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom May 12, Daniel Nadel said: “With respect to India, I think there’s genuine opportunities there for the government to address some of the concerns they hear from Indian civil society through greater dialogue and engagement.

“We do regularly engage with Indian government officials at all levels, encouraging them to uphold human rights obligations and commitments, including the protection of minorities, in keeping with India’s long tradition of democratic values and its history of tolerance.”The report said that among the issues discussed with officials were “the Muslim community’s concerns about the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), difficulties faced by faith-based (religious) NGOs in the wake of amendments to the FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulation Act), and allegations that Muslims spread Covid-19.”

Nadel, the senior official in the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, said that the U.S. encourages the Indian government to consult “religious communities, these outside actors” on passing laws to avoid alienating them.”When laws are passed, when initiatives are undertaken that are done without effective consultation with these communities, it creates a sense of disempowerment; at times, of alienation. And the best way to address that is to engage in that direct dialogue between government and civil society, including religious communities.”

The annual report, which is mandated by Congress, did not grade India nor deliver an overall verdict on the state of religious freedom in the country.It listed incidents involving attacks on minorities taken from reports by the media and religious and civil society groups, and legislative actions.

Releasing the report, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “Our promise to the world is that the Biden-Harris administration will protect and defend religious freedom around the world. We will maintain America’s longstanding leadership on this issue.”He acknowledged that “anti-Muslim hatred is still widespread in many countries, and this, too, is a serious problem for the U.S.”

Among the incidents it lists were the protests in February 2020 against the CAA, which it said “became violent in New Delhi after counter-protesters attacked demonstrators. According to reports, religiously motivated attacks resulted in the deaths of 53 persons, most of whom were Muslim, and two security officials.”Another incident it mentions is the Islamic TablighiJamaat organization’s conference last year in New Delhi, which the report said the government and media initially blamed for some of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But the report also said that “in an online address to the nation on April 26, Mohan Bhagwat, the leader of the RSS, called on Indians not to discriminate against anyone in the fight against Covid-19. In a reference to the March TablighiJamaat conference, he asked people not to target members of a ‘particular community’ (i.e., Muslims) ‘just because of the actions of a few’.”Some of the incidents listed in the report relate to actions taken against Muslim and Christian groups over alleged violation of Covid regulations in holding religious services.

However, the report also listed the deaths of two Christians, P. Jayaraj and his son Bennicks, in police custody after they were arrested for allegedly keeping their shop open in violation of a curfew as if those were religious violence.The report mentions two cases of Hindu women being killed for refusing to convert to Islam and of Christian women “forcibly” converted.It noted Amnesty International India ending operations in the country “after the government froze its bank accounts in response to a FCRA investigation that the NGO says was motivated by its critical reporting against the government.”

Biden Issues High Alert On China; Vows To Deepen India Partnership With India

Issuing a high alert about the growing dangers to the international system from China, President Joe Biden has called for building alliances with like-minded countries and said the US will deepen its ties with India.

The Interim National Security Guidance he released on Wednesday singled out China as the only “competitor” capable of mounting a sustained challenge with its multifarious capabilities to the international order.

He said in the document that the US will support China’s neighbours and declared, “We will deepen our partnership with India.”

Introducing the document, he said it would “convey my vision for how America will engage with the world” and guide his administration while Washington begins work on a new National Security Strategy.

He sketched a vision of a cooperative of democracies to face China, which “has rapidly become more assertive”.

He called Beijing “the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system”.

To counter this as well as the challenge from Russia, the US will have to “promote a favorable distribution of power to deter and prevent adversaries from directly threatening the United States and our allies, inhibiting access to the global commons, or dominating key regions”, he said.

“We can do none of this work alone. For that reason, we will reinvigorate and modernise our alliances and partnerships around the world,” he said.

“Our democratic alliances enable us to present a common front, produce a unified vision, and pool our strength to promote high standards, establish effective international rules, and hold countries like China to account,” he said.

Envisaging the framework for the alliance of democracies to face the China challenge, he said, “Beyond our core alliances, we will also double down on building partnerships throughout the world, because our strength is multiplied when we combine efforts to address common challenges, share costs, and widen the circle of cooperation.”

Biden drew attention to the risk from China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative that seeks to bring countries around the world, especially developing nations, under its economic dominance.

To counter this Chinese programme, he said, “We will support China’s neighbours and commercial partners in defending their rights to make independent political choices free of coercion or undue foreign influence. We will promote locally-led development to combat the manipulation of local priorities.”

China has set debt traps by making loans to countries for infrastructure projects that they cannot pay back in the long term and then has sought to take control of them.

Biden also said, “Terrorism and violent extremism, both domestic and international, remain significant threats.”

At its core, though, the guidance is his own version of a kinder, gentler America First that seeks to strengthen the US the unparalleled world leader.

“America is back. Diplomacy is back. Alliances are back. But we are not looking back,” he said.

“The United States must lead by the power of our example, and that will require hard work at home — to fortify the founding pillars of our democracy, to truly address systemic racism, and to live up to our promise as a nation of immigrants,” he said.

“Our success will be a beacon to other democracies, whose freedom is intertwined with our own security, prosperity, and way of life.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the Biden administration’s foreign policy emphasizing “that American leadership and engagement matter”.

In his address on “Foreign Policy for the American People”, he said, “Whether we like it or not, the world does not organize itself. When the US pulls back, one of two things is likely to happen: either another country tries to take our place, but not in a way that advances our interests and values; or, maybe just as bad, no one steps up, and then we get chaos and all the dangers it creates. Either way, that’s not good for America.”

On the economic front, Blinken echoed one of former President Donald Trump’s constant refrains: “We will fight for every American job and for the rights, protections, and interests of all American workers.” He also portrayed China as the main challenge to the US and world and stressed building alliances to meet it. (IANS)

India ‘Critical Partner’ For US In Meeting Indo-Pacific Challenge: Pentagon

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin considers India “a critical partner” for meeting the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and gives priority to ties with it, according to Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby.


“The secretary is prioritising this relationship, wants to see it continue to grow and develop and to get stronger,” Kirby said on Wednesday at a news briefing in Washington.


“He looks very much looking forward to working on initiatives to do just that,” Kirby said in reply to a reporter’s question about Austin’s views on relations with India.

Austin considers India “a critical partner, especially when you consider all the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.


Austin spoke last month with India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and “emphasised the Department’s commitment to the US-India Major Defence Partnership, observing that it is built upon shared values and a common interest in ensuring the Indo-Pacific region remains free and open”, the Pentagon said.


President Joe Biden announced the formation of the new strategy task force so that “we can chart a strong path forward on China-related matters” during a visit to the Pentagon last week.


“We need to meet the growing challenges posed by China to keep the peace and defend our interests in the Indo-Pacific and globally,” he said. (IANS)