2023: A monumental year for US-India relations marked by historic firsts

President Biden and Prime Minister Modi chat during the Indian leader’s State Visit June 22, 2023. PHOTO: X @POTUS

The United States and India, the world’s oldest and largest democracies, have encountered differences on various matters over the years. Nevertheless, in 2023, both nations demonstrated a commitment to setting aside their disagreements and directed their efforts towards fostering “a bright and prosperous future grounded in respect for human rights, and shared principles of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law” for the greater global good.

The historic state visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in June, highlighted the ever-deepening strategic ties between India and the United States. PM Modi’s visit not only underscored the crucial collaboration between the two nations but was also considered pivotal to multilateral and regional alliances, with a particular emphasis on the Quad alliance in its mission towards a “free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific.”

Addressing the Joint Session of US Congress for the second time on June 22, 2023, PM Modi noted, “Now, when our era is at a crossroads, I am here to speak about our calling for this century. Through the long and winding road that we have travelled, we have met the test of friendship. A lot has changed since I came here seven summers ago. But a lot has remained the same – like our commitment to deepen the friendship between India and the United States.”

“There are millions here, who have roots in India. Some of them sit proudly in this chamber. There is one behind me, who has made history!” PM Modi said pointing to Vice-President Kamala Harris, and Indian-American lawmakers. “I am told that the Samosa Caucus is now the flavor of the House. I hope it grows and brings the full diversity of Indian cuisine here.”

President Biden an PM Modi in India Sept. 8, 2023. PHOTO: X @narendramodi

In September, Indian-American Congressman Shri Thanedar launched a new Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain American Congressional Caucus aimed at fighting hatred, bigotry, and to unite and lift people. In November, House Republican Conference Chair, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik officially launched the Congressional Hindu Caucus under the aegis of the Republican Hindu Coalition.

Crediting Indian-Americans for the strong US-India partnership, he added “[They] have played a big role. They are brilliant in every field, not just in Spelling Bee. With their hearts and minds, talent and skills, and their love for America and India, they have connected us; they have unlocked doors; they have shown the potential of our partnership.”

A US-India joint statement released on June 22nd emphasized “United States and India as among the closest partners in the world – a partnership of democracies looking into the 21st century with hope, ambition, and confidence. The US-India Comprehensive Global and Strategic Partnership is anchored in a new level of trust and mutual understanding and enriched by the warm bonds of family and friendship that inextricably link our countries together.”

In 2023, as G20 President, India also witnessed the ongoing COVID-pandemic, Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars and their devastating impacts on the Global South and around the world. India also successfully landed its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the south pole region of the Moon, following in the footsteps of the United States, Russia, and China. As such, President Joe Biden congratulated India, and welcomed the setting up of a “Working Group for commercial space collaboration under the existing India-US Civil Space Joint Working Group.”

In September, President Biden also joined world leaders for the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Summit as India was in the midst of negotiating the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration. India faced stiff opposition from Russia and China regarding the language over condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Shortly before Biden arrived in New Delhi, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, pointed out during a press conference in India’s capital that the US and India were well aligned on G20 goals, and that US was working closely with India to craft a declaration aimed at reaching consensus.

To the surprise of many, India was not only able to achieve consensus on the G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration, on the first day of the Summit, but it also onboarded the African Union as a permanent member of the G20. These achievements by India received widespread commendation from world leaders including President Biden who played a key role in supporting India’s efforts at the G20.

G20 Chief Coordinator and former Indian Ambassador to the United States, Harsh Shringla told News India Times in an exclusive interview in New Delhi, “It [G20 success] must be attributed to India’s status in global affairs and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own stature.” Praising India’s diplomatic victory, G20 Special Secretary Muktesh Pardeshi told News India Times in New Delhi, “India was able to elicit support and could count on support from each group,” reiterating India’s growing stature in the world.

At the G20, India also took a leadership position by collaborating with countries to undertake reforms of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar told News India Times at a press conference in September in Washington DC, “I don’t think any other institution really compares with them in terms of their scale, in terms of their effectiveness, in terms of their track record, and in terms of the credibility to expand and make an impact from all these issues in the world,” adding India was working with US and other G20 partners to solidify MDB reform efforts.

Chairman & CEO of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh told News India Times, “US-India relations are very strong. The relationship between both countries is at its peak now due to efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as President Biden. I would like to reiterate my personal involvement in the formation of the India Caucus in early 90s, with the help of Congressman Frank Pallone, and Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York.”

Stressing that the India Caucus serves as a strong support for US-India relations, Dr. Parikh said, “India has come a long way economically and socially and all credit goes to Prime Minister Modi and his team’s efforts in the last 10 years. I would like to see more and more cooperation between US and India in the coming years.”

India, as part of the G4 nations including Brazil, Japan, and Germany, is also a strong contender for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. As such, President Biden during his address to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on September 19th reiterated his support for the expansion of the UN Security Council both in permanent and non-permanent members category.

Addressing world leaders, Biden noted, “This month we strengthened the G20 as a vital forum welcoming the African Union as a permanent member by upgrading and strengthening our institutions… That’s only half of the picture. We must also forge new partnerships, confront new challenges…” adding, “In the Indo Pacific, we’ve elevated our Quad partnership with India, Japan, and Australia, to deliver concrete progress to people of the region on everything from vaccines to maritime security.”

Soon, the Quad Foreign Ministers from India, US, Japan, and Australia met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and emphasized the urgency of expansion of the UN Security Council.

President Biden will travel to India in 2024 to take part in the next Quad Leaders’ Summit to be hosted by India.

The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York also hosted several events at the United Nations supporting UNSC reforms and promoting Millets. Consequently, the United Nations declared 2023 the International Year of Millets.

“2023 was an epochal year marking only the third State Visit by a visiting Indian leader to Washington D.C… the world landed in India for what turned out to be a momentous G20 Summit. The Summit in New Delhi capped a monumental year for India and marked President Biden’s first visit to India as the 46th President,” President & CEO US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, Mukesh Aghi said in a statement.

Aghi said the diplomatic progress achieved through the visits of Prime Minister Modi and President Biden has laid the groundwork for a tangible strategic plan, as well as the initiation of new dialogues and initiatives across diverse areas. These include “clean energy cooperation, education, space collaboration, semiconductors, quantum computing, drone technology, artificial intelligence, with accelerated joint projects such as manufacturing GE F-414 jet engines in India.”

During the Fifth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on November 10th in New Delhi, Foreign and Defense ministers of both countries touching upon the Israel-Hamas conflict expressed support “for humanitarian pauses and committed to continue close diplomatic coordination, including with key partners in the region, to prevent the conflict from spreading, preserve stability in the Middle East, and work toward a political solution and durable peace.”

The year 2023 also saw a growing number of Indian-Americans entering public offices in states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. Numerous candidates of Indian-American descent achieved notable success in the 2023 US gubernatorial, state legislature, and local elections.

Meanwhile, in a surprising turn of events, New York prosecutors registered a case in November against an Indian citizen, Nikhil Gupta, for an alleged murder attempt of a US citizen, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an advocate for the Khalistan movement and identified as a terrorist by India. But the incident appears not to have sullied the positive trend and expanding relations, with both countries attempting to control any negative fallout.

“We’ve actually had an amazing year in US-India relations. Probably the best year I’ve seen in my entire professional career. We’ve had a state visit by the Prime Minister of India to the United States, we had a visit by the President of the United States to India [and] we had one of the most impactful joint statements…” said President of the US-India Business Council, Atul Keshap in a recent interview with NDTV.



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