The theme of this year’s conclave – “The World Remade” – is especially appropriate, I think, in characterizing current events surrounding the U.S.-India relationship. I’m fortunate to have taken helm of the U.S. embassy here during a time of transformation in our bilateral partnership. In the last six months, we’ve seen two summits in Washington and New Delhi between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama. Both the symbolism and the substance of these interactions are important: India and the United States want to broaden and deepen our partnership; what’s more, we’re ready to walk that talk. We’re seeing a U.S.-India relationship that is being “remade,” and I am incredibly optimistic about the possibilities of our reinvigorated relationship.
President Obama’s January visit was historic. It was the first time a sitting
U.S. President has visited India twice, and the first time one was honored as the Chief Guest at Republic Day. The visit led to breakthroughs on a number of issues, and we’re already starting to see positive gains in the areas of cooperation our two leaders discussed. Our strategic partnership has moved into a new phase, a more mature one that I would characterize as “strategic plus.” Our leaders share an understanding that if our democracies work in tandem, we can have a positive impact on global peace, democracy, and economic prosperity.
I recognize these are lofty ambitions. Let me explain how we’re working to make them a reality.
Our shared democratic values remain a pillar of our relationship. The “Declaration of Friendship,” signed by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, elevated our commitment to cooperation and included tangible ways for us to advance mutual prosperity, promote a clean and healthy environment, facilitate greater economic cooperation and regional peace, and ensure security and stability across the world.
But we are also committed to working hard to make these aspirations a reality and, where necessary, using discussions to work through our differences. Since Prime Minister Modi visited Washington this past fall, India and the United States have convened, signed, and cooperated on no fewer than 30 dialogues, declarations, and agreements. These endeavors -highlighting cooperation from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of space and everywhere in between -are clear examples of building the broader and deeper relationship our leaders envision.
So that says a lot about what we think about the new government. We are excited about the possibilities we’ve begun working on together.
There are many efforts we’re working on together, but I’m supposed to limit my comments to five minutes. So I’ll touch just briefly on three areas where I think we can see progress in the next ten years.
The first i s greatly expanding our cooperation on clean energy and climate change. The U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy has already mobilized over $2:’4 billion to invest in clean energy projects. We’ve agreed to make concrete progress this year towards phasing out hydro fluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol as well as pursuing a strong global climate agreement in Paris this year.
We ‘re also cooperating on combating air pollution. Polluted air affects our health, quality of life, and work productivity. Indian cities have gained attention recently for their problems with air pollution. We had similar problems in American cities Jess than 30 years ago. So we have a lot of knowledge we can share. Just last week, a team of experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency met with senior officials and experts at the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, at the Central Pollution Control Board, and at other key ministries in Delhi. These consultations will lead our countries in developing ways we can work together to address this challenge.
We’re also capitalizing on our long history of collaboration in the areas of development, health, and science. In the health and development sectors, we have been working together to end preventable maternal and child deaths both here in India and across the globe. Similarly, we’re facilitating new partnerships to fight cancer, including through research, prevention, treatments, and the establishment of the India National Cancer Institute. These are areas where our long history of scientific partnership and cooperation can lead in short order to accomplishments that improve global health.
And finally, I want to make sure you all get your money’s worth for attending today, so I’II raise a topic of great interest to one of my friends here on the panel (ie, Chinese Ambassador Le Yucheng). That is the United States’ and India’s expression ‘of a shared vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. Our shared goals include working together and with other interested partners on increasing regional economic integration, promoting accelerated infrastructure connectivity, and supporting rules-based order. Far from being something designed to provoke, we believe our partnership can lead to a more peaceful, prosperous, and stable region, to the benefit of all.
So we’re excited about this newly elevated partnership. There’s clearly much more work to do to realize its full potential. But ultimately – and to borrow from the theme of this particular panel -the United States and India have displayed a commitment to show up to the “global high table” together, as partners, whose shared values and interests transcend improving the well-being of our two nations exclusively. Rather, our partnership will continue to strive toward peace and prosperity for the entire world for generations to come.