The technology relationship between India and the US will not be affected by a change in government in the US, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday. Notably, both the US and India are due for national elections next year.
The US and other Western powers constitute India’s primary technology partners, according to the external affairs minister. He said, “When it comes to technology in the broadest possible sense, our natural partners are the western economies. If you see today, the Quad has been helpful, the TTC (trade and technology council) with the EU has been helpful. These are our technology partners, our markets in a way, and they are our investors.”
The minister also dismissed the criticism that India is over dependent on Western countries when it comes to technology. “The overdependence argument is a curious argument because you use it against certain countries and not against certain others. I think people have ideological agendas which are that if you move too closely towards a certain group of countries it’s overdependence but if you move towards another set of countries, it’s not overdependence,” he said.
When it comes to homegrown technological development, the minister admitted that India is still playing catch-up game in many aspects. “Our era of reform started three decades ago, [but] the era of reform was not an era of technology. We conceptualised reform in very narrow terms and we're not ambitious enough,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Jaishankar met Jonathan Finer, the US’ principal deputy national security advisor. Finer is on a visit to New Delhi to exercise the mid-term review of the India-U.S. Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET). The iCET was launched by Prime Minister Modi and US President Biden during the Quad summit in May 2022. At the inaugural meeting of the iCET in January 2023, both the countries committed to collaborate on defence innovations and to develop a resilient semiconductor ecosystem.
The external affairs minister identified four inflection points that have shaped the course of India-US relations, especially along technology transfer, in the recent past. They are Bill Clinton’s presidential visit to India in 2000, the Indo-US nuclear deal initiated in 2005, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s working visit to the US in 2014 and the prime minister’s recent state visit in June 2023.
“The interesting thing about the US is that you’ve actually had five completely different presidents: think Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden. If a relationship can actually prosper with five very different presidents, I would suggest that the data clearly indicates a certain stability and that there is enough investment on both sides and structural soundness to the relationship," Jaishankar said.