US declares India a Major Defence Partner

The outgoing US Congress has formalised the growing defence partnership with India, following the Obama administration’s decision to declare India a major defence partner.
But the language in Section 1292 of the 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act titled ‘Enhancing defence and security cooperation with India’ passed by the House and Senate earlier this month is somewhat constrained.
It reflects the deep compromises forced by some members — or rather their staff aides — who want more from India before opening the final doors to dual-use technology. The original idea was to get India on the exclusive list that includes Nato allies, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand by amending the Arms Control Act — a huge undertaking.
The list of American grievances is long: trade, intellectual property rights (IPR), missing fruits of the nuclear deal, and India’s general reluctance to get too close to the US. Be that as it may, codification into law of what already exists, most importantly the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative, will at least prevent reversal of gains. It protects them from whims of petty bureaucrats and volatile presidents. The written word matters in the end.


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