As both the United States and India look forward to strengthening their defense partnership, the recent passage of the American defense budget is a clear step in the right direction. Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), one of the five Indian-American members of Congress, attached an amendment to the budget that addresses the strategic alliance between the two nations. While the amendment does not specifically allocate any of the defense budget, which totals over $621 billion, it does set a 180 day deadline for the development of a strategy that will advance the U.S.-India defense partnership. The amendment requires that the Department of Defense and the Department of State work together to form this strategy. The passage of this amendment is a concrete action by Congress that shows that representatives value strong bilateral relations with India and recognize the mutually beneficial nature of the relationship.
Furthermore, the addition of this amendment displays the importance of Indian-American representation in Congress. Indian-American representatives that advocate for the community, like Congressman Bera, help ensure that the needs of Indian-Americans are properly represented and that the community remains visible to the American population as a whole. As the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) moves to the Senate, it is exciting that Senator Kamala Harris, the first Indian-American senator, will be able to represent the Indian-American community, as well.
Ultimately, the United States-India defense partnership is key to maintaining geopolitical stability in Asia and across the entire world. Especially after the successful visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House in late June, it is integral that bilateral relations progress at a swift pace. Fortunately, there are many indicators U.S. government seems to be enthusiastically working with India to accomplish this task. On July 14th, the U.S Department of Defense published an article titled “U.S.-India Defense Relationship on Positive Trajectory, DoD Official Says,” which discusses the recent selling of both manned and unmanned American aircraft to India. Additionally, the article highlights the productive meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Prime Minister Modi. All in all, the increased focus on the relationship between the United States and India over the last month demonstrates that the American public views India as a critical ally, and that both nations are excited to advance their partnership.