A Monthly Journal of the IDSA
Vajpayee Visit And Indo-US Relations
By Rajiv Nayan *
The end of the Cold War led to many new developments. In South Asia, it resulted in the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. At the same time, the rise of Islamic terrorism was witnessed around the globe in general, and in Southern Asia in particular. The new environment put pressure on the US foreign policy makers to review their approach to the region. As a result, new priorities and new areas of cooperation have emerged. For many years after the end of the Cold War, the US Policy for South Asia had continued to remain shrouded in ambiguity. The US was quite hesitant to dump its Cold War ally, Pakistan, despite its involvement in undemocratic and illegal activities. After the 1998 nuclear tests in South Asia, the US was once again under pressure to redefine its policy for South Asia. It tried to give an impression of meeting out an even-handed treatment to both India and Pakistan. Sanctions were imposed on both countries. But the arrival of the US President William Jefferson Clinton in March 2000 in South Asia is perceived to have brought about a sea-change in the US policy toward South Asia. The visit was a product of regional and international circumstances. The US was already confronting the emergence of the Taliban as a new source of Islamic terrorism; engagement of two South Asian nuclear weapon powers posed a new challenge; and these two combined with the rise of India as a "software power" ultimately contributed to this change. The outcome of the visit and the statements made by both sides have led many to feel that the US foreign policy is undergoing a shift. It appears to be tilting towards India. Pakistan was snubbed by Clinton during his visit for a variety of reasons. Certainly, a new phase is deemed to have begun in Indo-US relations since the visit of President Clinton. After the visit, follow-up action has also been taken by both countries. In September 2000, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the US. Though the tour had several other engagements, the last phase was exclusively devoted to building Indo-US relations. During the visit, a few agreements were signed, formal speeches made, informal and formal statements were issued by authorities of both countries, press conferences were held and interviews were given. All these help in gaining some insight into the emerging Indo-US relations. This paper focuses on the thrust areas of Vajpayee's visit and examines its likely impact on the future of Indo-US relations.
Democracy and its promotion have been one of the goals of US foreign policy. In South Asia, however, democracy was hardly a factor in forging any relationship. Pakistan, which never had a proper and consistent track record on democracy remained an important ally of the US not only during the Cold War but even after India, despite continuously getting a pat on its back for practising democracy, faced difficulties in establishing its relationship with the US. The March 2000 visit of the American president to South Asia promised to make democracy an important determinant of the US policy in South Asia. On the basis of performance of democracy, he behaved differently with the two South Asian countries during his visit. Pakistan, under the new military rule, was told, "democracy cannot develop if it is constantly uprooted before it has a chance to firmly take hold". 1 He also made it clear that improvement, not termination is a solution to 'flawed democracy'. Clinton also asked for a 'real road map' for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. When he was in India, the importance and significance of democracy was illuminated quite frequently. India was continuously praised for its uninterrupted democracy credentials.
During Vajpayee's visit to the US, democracy once against appeared to occupy the centre stage of Indo-US relationship. Vajpayee in his address to joint session of the US congress remarked, "American people have shown that democracy and individual liberty provide the conditions in which knowledge progresses, science discovers, innovation occurs enterprise thrives and ultimately people advance". 2 He further added, "Just as American experience has been a lesson in what people can achieve in a democratic framework, India has been the laboratory of a democratic process rising to meet the strongest challenges that can be flung at it. In the half century of our independent existence, we have woven an exquisite tapestry. Out of diversity, we have brought unity. The several Languages of India speak with one voice under the roof of our Parliament. In your remarkable experiment as a nation-state, you have proven the same truth. Out of the huddled masses that you welcomed to your shores, you have created a great nation.". 3
Later in his speech, Vajpayee crafted a vision of Asia where a cooperative instead of an aggressive assertion of national self-interests are supposed to define behaviour of nations. For shaping a democratic, prosperous, tolerant, pluralistic and stable Asia, he saw the US as an important partner. He told the Congress that nations cherishing democratic values can become friends, partners and allies and solve many problems of the world.
During Vajpayee's visit a memorial was dedicated to Gandhi and the Prime Minister utilised the occasion to underline the importance of democracy and respect for diversity. Vajpayee said, "We both cherish, preserve and promote human rights such as freedom of speech, political choice and religious belief. These are universal values that form the foundation of more tolerant and compassionate societies, a more non-violent world free from tensions and fear." 4
The need of dialogue between democracies was left to accommodate mutual concerns. Vajpayee called for the emergence of India and the US as "natural allies" to undertake work for international peace, progress and prosperity in the 21st century. 5
The US too echoed similar sentiments. The US Congress passed a resolution 6 stating that the US and India, the world's two largest democracies with one fifth of the world's population, are allies in the cause of promoting democracy; both have experience in nurturing and strengthening democratic institutions world-wide. The House, too, noted that both countries share common ideals and a vision for 21st century with freedom and democracy acting as vehicles for peace and prosperity. The refuge given by India to the Dalai Lama was cited as an instance of cooperation on democracy. Mr. Benjamin A Gilman, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, the author of the Resolution, passed in the House of Representatives, remarked, "Both of our governments are dedicated to the protection of the rule of law, democracy and freedom of religion. Our citizens share a fervent faith in these core values. It is also why India and the United States see eye-to-eye on so many regional concerns." 7
Vice President Albert Gore also emphasised on the democratic aspect of the relationship. He stated "As the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy, we are in your words, "natural allies". Our cultures and customs differ, but we share a strong commitment to democracy and equality for all. We are proof that diversity is strength and that freedom is power". 8 He further stated, "As the world's two leading democracies, we bear a special responsibility to take the lead in meeting the challenges that all democracies face. We must work together to ensure democracy's promises are realised by all our people, that all benefit from freedom." 9
In the joint statement issued by both countries the greater need for 'closer cooperation' and 'stronger partnership' for promoting democracy, pluralism, freedom, peace and prosperity were visualised. 10 Both sides also expressed satisfaction over the promotion of community of democracies. 11 At a state dinner, President Clinton opined that in both countries there is confidence in democracy as well as tolerance for diversity. 12 At the White House arrival ceremony, a common democratic bond and common commitment to democracy and freedom were highlighted. 13 It was felt that common endeavour should be made for common achievements on the front of democracy.
The democratic order, at present, is facing the most serious threat from terrorism. India and the US, in recent years, have come closer on sharing their concerns and endeavour in countering the menace of regional and international terrorism, whose most visible manifestation is Islamic terrorism. The US president expressed outrage and heartbreak over the massacre of Sikhs in Kashmir during his visit to India in March. At that time, he articulated the American views on terrorism and counter terrorism. He described various types and forms of terrorism. He appealed, "We must never relax our vigilance or allow the perpetrators to intimidate us into retreating from our democratic ideals." 14 In the vision statement signed during the Clinton visit, the idea for bolstering joint efforts to counter terrorism was laid down.
Much before his visit, a Joint Working Group (JWG) for counter terrorism had already been set up. It had met for the first time in February 2000. President Clinton and Prime Minister Vajpayee wanted the JWG to meet regularly and become an effective tool for sharing information, which can help in intensifying their work. After the US president's visit, reports came that the US set up an office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US embassy in India and India set up an office of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Washington to facilitate their counter-terrorism work. 15 Several such steps were taken and frequently spokespersons of both countries reiterated their commitment to fight terrorism.
During Vajpayee's visit, the issue of terrorism remained in the limelight. Terrorism was linked to democracy. The author of Gilman resolution stated that Islamic terrorism promoted by Afghanistan and Pakistan and the narco-terrorism in Myanmar were common concerns of both countries. 16 He expressed the need for a closed and special military and intelligence relationship to defeat the common enemy of the two open societies. The Indian Prime Minister cautioned the US people of a 'variety of medieval malevolence founded on a perverse interpretation of faith. 17 He highlighted the desire of foreign powers to use terrorism to unravel the territorial integrity of India. In the joint statement, the work done by the JWG was appreciated. 18 The opening of a Legal Attache office in New Delhi was acknowledged by the statement. The Legal attache's office is supposed to help in undertaking the joint work in counter terrorism and law enforcement. Both countries also appealed to the international community to step up its efforts toward countering international terrorism. A mutual Legal Assistance Treaty will in the coming days help both the countries in acting on counter terrorism. 19 On September 15, Bruce Reidel, senior Director, Near East and South Asian Affairs and National Security Council informed that both countries are aware of the role of the Taliban government of Afghanistan in international terrorism and its link with international terrorist organisations. 20 After Vajpayee's visit two senior US officials, Ambassador Michael Sheehan and Admiral Blair came to India to follow-up on the agreed cooperation on counter-terrorism.
For a long period, Kashmir has been a victim of terrorism of all kinds. Earlier the US policy on Kashmir was quite inconsistent. The US was frequently approached by Pakistan to interfere in Kashmir. Occasionally, some of its leaders and officials did show inclination towards the Pakistan line. But Pakistan was never obliged. During his visit to India, President Clinton in his address to the Indian Parliament said," "Let me also make clear as I have repeatedly, I have certainly not come to South Asia to mediate the dispute over Kashmir. Only India and Pakistan can work out the problem between them." 21 Nevertheless he did stress the need "for restraint, for respect of the Line of Control [LOC], for renewed lines of communications." 22 Also, on the issue of referendum laid out by the United Nations in 1948, he sounded quite reasonable, when he said, "well, there's been a lot of changes since 1948, including what happened in 1971 and a number of things since." 23 Most significantly, he conceded that" I believe that there are elements within the Pakistani government that have supported those who are engaged in violence in Kashmir." 24
Bill Clinton was more categorical and explicit when he was asked by a TV journalist about America's Kashmir policy. He stated, "Our policy is first, respect the Line of Control. Second, do not promote violence by third parties in Kashmir. Third, negotiate. And fourth, with respect to India, that there's not a military solution to Kashmir's problems by India either, that the Kashmiris deserve to have their own concerns addressed on the merits. But I don't think we ought to get in the position of saying that we think that an ethnically diverse country like India can't exist anymore. I don't agree with that." 25
President Clinton's address to the people of Pakistan stated, "We cannot and will not mediate or resolve the dispute in Kashmir. Only you and India, can do that, through dialogue." 26 Definitely, these statements indicate a significant shift in the US policy on Kashmir. For the first time, it has held the government of Pakistan responsible for violence in Kashmir. It has also been recognised that violence is inflicted on Kashmir by foreign mercenaries and ISI. Clinton asked Pakistan to maintain the sanctity of LOC. Before that no US President has been so categorical. Most importantly, he refused to volunteer, unilaterally or on Pakistan's request, in meddling in the Kashmir question. It was a triumph of the Indian stand and a big blow for Pakistan.
During Vajpayee's visit, the shift in the US stance on Kashmir was further consolidated. The Indian Prime Minister, on different occasions during his stay in the US spoke frequently about Kashmir. He informed the US Congress that 16,000 people had been killed in Jammu and Kashmir by foreign sponsored terrorism. 27 Vajpayee highlighted the fact that India's neighbour-Pakistan-which had adopted religious war as its official government policy, was basically responsible for violence in Kashmir. He asserted that only redoubling of joint efforts could check any such nefarious designs. 28 In another address, he said that Pakistan sponsored religious war is attempting the destruction and dismemberment of India. 29 Pakistan was also accused of belittling pacts like the Shimla and Lahore Agreements. Vajpayee articulated India's approach to peace for the region. He said "It is based on five fundamental propositions: One, religion or sword shall no longer be used to redefine boundaries. Two, this is the age of reconciliation, not of conflict. Three, whether it is Jammu or Kashmir or Ladakh the citizens of J&K are tired of violence and bloodshed. Four, it is time to stop the bloodletting and time for healing wounds in Jammu and Kashmir. And fifth, India is prepared to heal the wounds by the larger power of Insaniyat of humanity." 30 Certainly, this approach was well appreciated by different official and non-official sections of the US. The US has also been articulating a solution for Kashmir on the same lines at least since Clinton's visit to South Asia. Even during Vajpayee's visit the US authorities were quite positive on Kashmir. A favourable statement for India was made in the House of Representatives. Later Bruce Reidel told the media that the President had once again reiterated restraint on both sides, respect for the LOC, denunciation of violence and resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan in a proper atmosphere as an American approach. 31 He clarified that the use of term "core issue" is made by Pakistan. The US considers Kashmir as an "important issue", Bruce Reidel said in the Press conference that the President of the US conveyed the American view to the Indian Prime Minister. The US authorities also admitted that Pakistan was continuing its support to violence in Kashmir, there was no 'diminution'. 32
Non-proliferation has been an important component of the US foreign policy for a long period. The US policy in the early phase was to put hurdles before the nuclear weapons development programme of India and Pakistan. In 1970s, when Jimmy Carter came to India, his visit was considered positive from the point of view of India, yet, he raised the nuclear issue and asked India to desist from going nuclear. The US constantly put pressure on India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), to negotiate Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty; to become party to export control regimes such as London Club, Zangger Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Waasenaar Arrangement. India was specifically put under pressure to extend the coverage of International Atomic Energy safeguards to all civilian nuclear reactors and halt the test flight of ballistic missiles. When India conducted its nuclear tests in 1998, the US reacted with sanctions, although their imposition somewhat eased afterwards. During Clinton's visit to the region, the US continued to grope for a non-proliferation policy to suit the new nuclear environment.
During his remarks to the joint session of the Indian Parliament President Clinton said " the spread of weapons of mass destruction to those who have no reservations about using them' 33 remained one of the challenges of international security in the 21st century. He focussed on nuclear weapons, though he mentioned even biological and chemical weapons. Even during the Vajpayee visit to the US, Bill Clinton clubbed all three Weapons of Mass Destruction to define proliferation. Realising that a nuclear weapons country cannot very effectively preach merits of disarmament, he tried to make the case in a different style. In the Indian Parliament, he remarked, "I am aware that I spoke to you on behalf of a nation that has possessed nuclear weapons for 55 years and more. But since 1988, the United States has dismantled more than 13,000 nuclear weapons. We have helped Russia to dismantle their nuclear weapons and to safeguard the material that remains. We have agreed to an outline of a treaty with Russia that will reduce our remaining nuclear arsenal by more than half. We are producing no more fissile material, developing no new land or submarine based missiles, engaging in no nuclear testing." 34
The US tried to confound arms control with disarmament. It is true that during the last phase of the Cold War and after its end, the US and Russia have dismantled some of their nuclear weapons. And even if the US dismantled more than half of its nuclear arsenal, the fact remains that it still possesses enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over. All these cuts amount to only arms control and not disarmament. Further, the US has enough nuclear weapon-grade fissile materials to tide through for a long time to come.
During his visit to India, Clinton spoke at great length about nuclear disarmament in the Indian Parliament and elsewhere. For a long period, India has been asking to pursue the goal of nuclear disarmament from different fora. The vision statement signed by Bill Clinton and Atal Bihari Vajpayee noted, "India and the United States share a commitment to reducing and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons." 35 On the issue of nuclear disarmament, too, it acknowledged. " we have not always agreed on how to reach this common goal. The United States believes India should forgo nuclear weapons. India believes that it needs to maintain a credible minimum nuclear deterrent in keeping with its own assessment of its security needs." 36 According to the US there is one obvious route to nuclear disarmament. This can be achieved through signing the CTBT, halting further nuclear tests and fissile material production. The vision statement reaffirms, 'respective voluntary commitment to forgo further nuclear explosive tests." 37 Both leaders clearly spelt out, "We will work together and with others for an early commencement of negotiations on a treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. We have both shown strong commitments to export controls, and will continue to strengthen them. We will work together to prevent the spread of dangerous technologies. We are committed to build confidence and reduce the chances of miscalculation. We will pursue our security needs in a restrained and responsible manner and will not engage in nuclear and missile arms races." 38
The US has adopted a persuasive style in place of its old coercive and aggressive one. Democratic spirit appeared the guiding principle. The change in the tone could be witnessed from Clinton's address to the Indian Parliament where he said, "Only India can determine its own interests. Only India-only India can know if it truly is safer today than before the tests. Only India can determine if it will benefit from expanding its nuclear and missile capabilities, if its neighbours respond by doing the same thing. Only India knows if it can afford a sustained investment in both conventional and nuclear forces while meeting its goals for human development. These are questions others may ask, but only you can answer." 39
In the Indian Parliament itself, after providing outlines of the American thinking on global proliferation in general and Indian nuclear proliferation in particular, he said, "Again I don't presume to speak for you or to tell you what to decide. It is not my place. You are a great nation and you must decide. But I ask you to continue our dialogue into a genuine partnership against proliferation. If we progress in narrowing our differences, we will be both more secure, and our relationship can reach its full potential." 40 President Clinton was appreciative and accommodative of India's security concerns. President Clinton and his associates tried to coopt both South Asian countries for their larger non-proliferation agenda. The demand side of proliferation was not paid much attention to. Instead, the US was emphasising and orienting its policy to involve them in the supply side of proliferation.
The mellowed US proliferation rhetoric was well received by India. While addressing the US Congress the Indian Prime Minister said, "India understands your concerns. We do not wish to unravel your non-proliferation efforts. We wish you to understand our security concerns." 41 The Indian Prime Minister also reiterated that both countries are committed to nuclear disarmament and no further nuclear testing, so there is no clash of interests. The joint statement repeated the same non-proliferation commitment. Both countries pledged not to conduct nuclear tests. However, India made it clear in the very text of the statement "subject to its supreme national interests, it will continue its voluntary moratorium until the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) comes into effect." 42 India once again promised not to come in the way of the CTBT. The joint statement also carried the promise of both the countries to halt the production of fissile material for weapons purposes and for the earliest possible beginning of Fissile Material Cut off Treaty negotiations in Geneva. The joint statement praised the development on the front of export controls and expressed the need to strengthen them. Most importantly, the issue of proliferation was intrinsically linked to security. The joint statement noted it. The Indian Prime Minister highlighted it when he was addressing the US Congress. The US President, too, illuminated the linkage during his meeting with the American think tank scholars.
The effects of the Glenn Amendment, under which sanctions were imposed on India in the wake of Pokhran explosions, were somewhat mitigated in the subsequent legislative measures like the Brownback Amendment. Still, the issue of sanctions is considered an irritant in the relationship. The Gilman Resolutions demanded, " the United States should consider removing existing unilateral legislative and administrative measures imposed against India, which prevent the normalisation of United States-Indian Bilateral economic and trade relations." 43
The economic relationship between India and the US has tried to provide a link to the two estranged democracies from time to time. India, on the path of liberalisation, has evinced growing interests for the US. New economic realities are eclipsing many odd aspects of the relationship and giving them an entirely new direction.
In the Indo-US economic relationship, government-to-government contact is being fast complemented by the private sector. Several agreements have been signed by government departments or government funded organisations and private companies from both sides. The governments tend to play mediatory and regulatory roles in some of the agreements signed between private companies of the two countries. Presently, the governments of both countries are encouraging private companies to assume a greater role in economic affairs and in turn in economic diplomacy. The Indo-US economic relationship has faced many hurdles. After the Shakti series of nuclear tests in Pokhran, the US imposed sanctions on India under the nuclear proliferation prevention Act (NPPA). Some of the sanctions were lifted, however, some sanctions continued to be imposed on India. Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) funded activities are still under sanctions. US government credit, credit guarantees, other financial assistance, Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Financing, licenses for export of items on the US Munitions List, certain dual-use exports and certain uses are adversely affected by sanctions. The US government is also supposed to vehemently resist any International finance institutions loans, assistance and technology help which are not directly related to basic human needs.
The transfer of technology was hampered by the presence of technology denial regimes even before the imposition of sanctions. Also, the economic relationship has been enmeshed by several explicit and implicit trade restrictions in selected areas. Besides, the economic relationship of India and the US is marred by issues such as Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) as happened in the case of auto policy intellectual property rights, labour and environment standards linked to international trade and artificial embargo like the hike in freight charges.
India has been exporting a number of items to the US over the years. The US has been the largest importer of Indian goods. There is a marked improvement in different dimensions of the economic relationship of the two countries in recent years. In 1999, there was 8.67 per cent increase in the total trade between India and the US; both transacted goods worth $12,790 million in that year. In 1998, both countries had a bilateral trade turnover worth $11,770 million. In 1998 itself India exported goods worth $8,225 million, whereas in 1999, the total amount was worth $9,083 million. Thus, India's export's to the US also witnessed an impressive rise of 10.44 per cent. India's imports from the US climbed by 4.59 per cent. In 1998, it was $3,545 million, in 1999, it was $3,707 million. The balance of trade is continuing to be in India's favour. For India, the balance has increased from $4,680 million in 1998 to $5,376 million in 1999; thus, there was an increase of 14.87 per cent in the balance of trade in 1999.
The visit of the US president in March 2000 tried to give a further boost to economic cooperation between the two countries. India and the US took a conscious decision to institutionalise bilateral economic interaction at different levels. A high level coordination group led by the Prime Minister's Office and the US White House was set up. This group is to pay special attention to the issues of advanced and information technologies. Both governments also decided to set up the Indo-US Financial and Economic Forum headed by the Indian Minister of Finance and the US Secretary of Treasury. The Forum would focus on resolving finance and investment issues and macro-economic policy and would map international economic developments. Two groups were formed during Clinton's visit to take care of interests of the private sector. The first was Indo-US Commercial Dialogue. Its objective was to facilitate trade and maximise investment opportunities in a number of areas. Prominent among them are information technology, infrastructure, bio-technology and services. The second was Indo-US working Group and Trade. The mandate of this group was to increase cooperation on trade policy. It would also sort out the matters related to WTO. The main joint business group for private sector cooperation-the US-India Business Council met in June 2000.
During Clinton's visit a Joint Consultative Group on clean energy and environment was also set up to encourage taking up collaborative projects for developing and deploying clean energy technologies, public and private sector investment and cooperation, climate change and other environmental matters. Also established was India-US Science and Technology Forum with an aim to promote research and development, the transfer of technology, the creation of a comprehensive electronic reference source for Indo-US science and technology cooperation and the electronic exchange and disemination of information in Indo-US science and technology cooperation. The US commerce secretary, during the visit remarked, "President Clinton's visit to India demonstrates this administration's commitments to using trade also as an economic bridge for creating lasting prosperity between India and the US."
Trade and business was an important thrust area during Vajpayee's visit. Vajpayee himself stated during his visit that economic cooperation would provide an 'attractive architecture' for the emerging Indo-US relationship. Both countries desired to become partners in fighting poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease and pollution of the world. The joint statement expressed confidence about the working of different trade and technology groups established earlier. The joint statement noted optimism as well as determination for cooperation in the fields of high technology trade, e-Commerce, civil aviation, bio-technology, power generation, environmental protection. The statement visualised the furthering of efforts in the areas where some work had already been done. The Gilman Resolution desired cooperative programmes between the two countries in education, science and technology, information technology, finance and investment, trade, agriculture, energy, the fight against poverty, improvement of the environment, infrastructure development and so forth.
During the visit, a number of agreements were signed with India's public and private sectors. If all the projects signed are fully operationalised, their potential value would exceed $6 billion.
The world's largest independent power project, to be set up in Orissa, would be known as Hirma Power project. An agreement for the development of Hirma power project was signed between the US Southern Energy, Inc. on the one hand and the Indian companies, Reliance Power Limited and the Power Trading Corporation of India Limited. The Power Trading Corporation of India Limited also entered into a joint development agreement with the American CMS Energy Corporation. An Indian bank, the Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Synergies Energy Development Incorporated for financing the Shrinagar Hydroelectric Power Project. This project is expected to provide clean energy source. In addition an agreement was signed by the Department of Energy and the Indian power ministry to resume bilateral consultations. Also, an MOU was signed between US Business Network, Inc. and an Indian Company Satyam Infoway to set up a business to business e-commerce joint venture for cross-border trade. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed five agreements with Indian entities for urban development energy training, microfinance programmes and so on. The US Export-Import (Exim) Bank entered into three agreements with the Indian financial entities-the State Bank of India, the Industrial Development Bank of India and the Indian Export-Import Bank. The US EXIM Bank promised to give $900 million to Indian business houses so that they could purchase US goods and services. Positive developments also took place on textiles and taxation. Besides, Indians are expected to get more H-1B visas for the US.
From the deliberations of Vajpayee's visit, one can easily draw the conclusion that the Indo-US relationship has found a new paradigm. Democracy, a common but not a dominant factor in defining the Indo-US relationship, it seems, has got its due place this time. The emphasis of the leaders of both sides was on recognising the importance of democracy as a framework for their relationship. The inspiration and the language of liberal institutionalism was echoed throughout the visit. The language of realism or neo-realism was at least absent from the dialogue, if not from actual practice. On the matters of proliferation and security, both sides agreed to disagree on the issue of proliferation. However, India's support to US non-proliferation efforts and qualification that India is maintaining unilateral moratorium subject to supreme national interests are going to explain the attitude of India towards certain security and non-proliferation matters in the near future. One can hope India and the US will arrive at more common points to work together on these matters. Terrorism has already emerged as an area where, the US and India have discovered a common cause. Both are cooperating on different dimensions of counter-terrorism. Taliban and Afghanistan are special concerns for both countries. Corollary to it, the US has gradually started realising the Indian problem in Kashmir. During Clinton's visit some positive articulation took place. For the first time, the role of the Pakistani state vis-´-vis terrorism was pointed out. The Indian position of no third party role in Kashmir was categorically stated by the US President. Even during Vajpayee's visit the US endorsed the Indian perception. The most noteworthy was sharing of the Indian perception: any dialogue is difficult to be restored until and unless cross-border terrorism ceases.
Economic cooperation is the most important area where the democratic spirit is really rekindling. It is in true sense becoming a bridge between the two countries. The economy is fast guiding the relationship and American involvement is increasing despite sanctions. In the not-so-distant future, sanctions will either go, or begin to matter less and less. Trade and investment are finding new areas and scope. The Indian community in the US has become a new but vital actor in shaping Indo-US relationship. Information technology professionals are the most active and responsible factor in the upsurge of the Indo-US-relations. The new beginning heralded by Clinton's visit to India and consolidated by that of Prime Minister Vajpayee to the US is replete with opportunities.
Note 8: The US Government, Toasts given by US Vice-President Al Gore & Prime Minister Vajpayee at the luncheon hosted by Vice-President Al Gore in honour of Prime Minister Vajpayee, September 15, 2000. Back.