India and the US are “natural partners” and the cooperation between the two countries would act as a force multiplier for a rules-based world order, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday, amid increasing global concerns over China’s military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
India can be an avenue of “de-risking” for American companies as the country can provide high returns, he said, noting that American capital and technological know-how can help India become a developed nation by 2047.
The defence minister was addressing a conference on ‘Strengthening Indo-US Relationship’ organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC).
Rajnath Singh said the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts have not much impacted India’s defence sector and asserted that India has become a strong country, capable of securing national interests and giving a befitting reply to anyone casting an “evil eye” on it.
“India and the US support a free, open and rules-based international order. Due to this, there is a lot of alignment in our strategic interests,” he said.
“Besides, our economic relationship is a win-win proposition for both the countries. The current relationship is driven by twin congruences of shared values and aligned interests, which is a guarantee for long sustainability and robustness of ties,” he said.
Rajnath Singh said the capital and technological know-how from the US can help India achieve its goal of becoming a developed country by 2047, while investments in the country can give American companies high returns and an avenue of de-risking.
He added that to deal with the challenges faced by the rules-based international order and maintain strategic autonomy, it will be necessary for American businesses to de-risk by investing in India.
The defence minister said sensing the need of the present times, India and the US are working together in different fields, including defence technology and space.
He made special mention of the defence technology and trade initiative through which both nations are working towards further strengthening the defence technology partnership.
“India is the largest democracy in the world, and the US is another big democracy. When two big democracies cooperate with each other, it will definitely make the democratic world order stronger,” Rajnath Singh said.
“This will act as a force multiplier for rules-based order across the globe. Our work together will be beneficial not only to us but to the entire world,” he said.
Elaborating on the government’s vision behind the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, Rajnath Singh said the nation is moving forward at the right pace with which it won’t stumble in the times to come.
He enumerated the decisions taken by the Ministry of Defence to promote self-reliance, such as earmarking 75 per cent of the defence capital procurement budget for the domestic industry.
This, Rajnath Singh said, has helped India find a place among the top 25 countries which export defence equipment.
“The Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts have not much impacted the defence sector. India has become a strong country, which is capable of securing national interests and giving a befitting reply to anyone who casts an evil eye,” he added.
Rajnath Singh asserted that the aim of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ is not to cut off from the global system and not to work in isolation.
“It is rather the commitment to collaborate with friendly countries. The ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign promotes companionship based on ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The world is one family),” he stressed.
Rajnath Singh listed out the “sweeping changes” made in every sector in India to keep pace with friendly countries.
“We have made reforms in FDI and labour laws to attract foreign investment and take advantage of our skilled workforce. We are also working on next-generation infrastructure projects,” he said.
The defence minister said infrastructure sectors like roads, railways, waterways, and electricity have made unprecedented progress.
“India is developing a world-class infrastructure,” he said.
The defence minister asserted that the government has laid the groundwork for a strong and self-reliant ‘New India’, and the American investments can play a vital role in realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a ‘Viksit Bharat’.
Terming it as a win-win situation for both countries, he stated that India’s fast-growing economy, its demographic dividend, skilled workforce, and huge domestic market guarantee high returns to US companies.
Rajnath Singh emphasised that business and commerce are correlated to the security and defence of the country, terming the connection as deep.
He asserted that the government gives equal emphasis to defence and security and business and commerce, as “one cannot move ahead, in today’s era, by keeping business and strategic interests separate.” Rajnath Singh said the joint initiative ‘NISAR’ between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) will ensure cooperation in many areas such as earth science, disaster management and climate change.
NISAR is a joint earth-observing mission between NASA and ISRO.