This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the landmark U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative that transformed our bilateral relationship into a strategic partnership built on mutual trust and natural affinity. As two ambassadors named in recent months, we’ve seen firsthand the promise of the U.S.-India partnership. The historic visits of Prime Minister Modi to the United States and President Obama to India helped our relationship soar, moving us past old disagreements and paving the way forward for even more ambitious new collaborations.
Since President Obama’s January visit to India, we are now working on new initiatives from the outer reaches of space to the depths of the oceans. We have reenergized some 30 different dialogues and working groups to ensure close collaboration on issues like cyber and homeland security, women’s empowerment, counter-terrorism cooperation and global health security.
In a world filled with complex security and economic challenges, this relationship matters more now than ever before. That’s why our leaders have aggressively set out to increase our defense cooperation, create greater economic opportunities for our people and work more closely on climate change. Our national interests are converging on the vital issues of the day.
Our two countries, for example, have become indispensable partners in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions, whether our navies are conducting anti-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa, responding to the latest humanitarian crises or participating in an ever-growing array of military exercises. Last month we signed a new 10-year agreement on defense cooperation and launched two new defense projects for co-development and co-production.
Our commercial ties similarly continue to deepen and enrich the lives of millions in both our countries. Two-way trade between our economies increased fivefold over the past decade to reach more than $100 billion today. Our leaders are committed to accelerating bilateral trade another fivefold. U.S. infrastructure and technology firms are ready to bring their expertise to Prime Minister Modi’s ambitious plan to build 100 smart cities by 2020. And Indian firms and investors are increasingly present in the United States to help power America’s growth and to create jobs. Ultimately, through our shared values of free enterprise and the rule of law, sustained and inclusive economic growth in both our countries can help continue to lift and empower those who need it the most.
Beyond the strategic and economic ties, our people continue to bring us closer together. More than a million Americans traveled to India in 2013, and more than 4,000 Indians applied for student visas at U.S. diplomatic facilities in India on a single day in May. These statistics attest to the strength of our people-to-people ties. Indian students account for the second-largest group of foreign students in the United States, with more than 100,000 students studying in the United States during the past academic year. The Indian diaspora has also made enormous contributions to every facet of American society, contributing its talents and ingenuity at the tech start-ups of Silicon Valley, the lecture halls and labs of premier educational institutions, the board rooms of Fortune 500 companies, and the corridors of power in Washington and in state capitols across the nation. And now, they are increasingly giving back to their ancestral home, as well.
In India, Americans and Indians are working closely together to spur advances in medicine, science and technology, helping to power India’s growth and improving the lives of ordinary Indian citizens. India and the United States are also increasingly cooperating to meet development challenges in India and around the world, working together in vital areas such as agricultural research, combating HIV/AIDS, and sharing Indian innovations and expertise with other countries from Afghanistan to Africa to East Asia.
As U.S.-India ties continue to blossom, the true test of our defining partnership for the 21st century will be how it benefits not just our common citizens but also the global commons. Our leaders’ vision of a rules-based international order where disputes between states are settled peacefully, trade flows more freely and clean energy reduces the threat of climate change offers the best promise of a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable century than the past one.
The fact is, we are stronger when we work together, and our close collaboration in the years ahead can have a big impact upon global peace and prosperity. Given our shared democratic values, multicultural traditions, robust people-to-people ties and convergent economic and security interests, we are natural partners, and indeed on a course to be best partners. Serving as our governments’ highest representatives in our respective capitals, we are resolute in our determination to ensure we remain on this course, and we are optimistic about our future partnership together.
Arun Singh is the Indian Ambassador to the United States. Richard Verma is the United States Ambassador to India.