Visit by a US Congressional Delegation
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A five-member bipartisan US Congressional delegation, led by Ed Royce Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the VIF on 10 March 2015 for an interaction with faculty members and other strategic experts on the dynamics of evolving Indo-US partnership, driven largely by the growing needs of containing terrorist threats in the region, US rebalancing in Asia, and India’s quest for self-reliance in defence production, among others. The interaction encompassed issues of mutual strategic and economic interests, broadly envisioned in the joint statement of US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi early this year.

General NC Vij, Director VIF, welcomed the delegation and introduced them to an august group of policy experts and intellectuals who had assembled for the event. In his introductory remarks, the Director expressed satisfaction over the current pace in bilateral relationship, and hoped the road ahead should be of warmth and promise. Drawing attention of the house to the rise of China and its increasing assertiveness, Gen Vij underlined the need to mainstream China in the global rule-based systems and manage its rise, especially to the benefit of the region. In so far as Indo-US defence cooperation is concerned, General Vij accentuated the need to change the matrix of bilateral relationship from ‘buyer-seller’ to that of a co-partner in design, development, and production of defence equipments.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Ed Royce, a key facilitator of the 2006 U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement and former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, shared his perspective both on the geo-political shifts currently sweeping the region and the investment opportunities available for American businessmen in India. Towards the latter, he said India needs to push through the next phase of economic reforms for the US investment to go up, especially stressing on the need for India to move away from the old license and permit Raj. Besides, the need for an early resolution of the investment disputes in India was also flagged by the US lawmaker. However, the Chairman concluded India, with a rule-based system, is a better destination for US investment, as compared to China.

Chairman Royce also underlined the economic imperatives of India’s defence modernization. He remarked that for India to develop a credible and effective deterrence against its adversaries it is imperative to develop first a strong and vibrant economy. Lauding India’s remarkable contributions towards stability in Afghanistan, anti-piracy and others, the Senator said India has the capacity to keep peace in the region and beyond. Urging on the need for the higher level dialogue on counter-terrorism and an increased level of cooperation on intelligence sharing between India and United States, Chairman Royce came down harshly on the Gulf States for financing terrorist networks in Central and South Asia, especially in Pakistan. He reiterated United States and India have an enduring desire for a free and secure world.

Accompanying the delegation, Nita Lowey, a Ranking Member of the House Appropriation Committee, also shed light on the imperatives of stronger strategic partnership between India and the US, two countries sharing similar traits of DNA and similar sets of challenges. She said there is broad recognition that an India that is strong at home can take on challenges more confidently and more strongly outside the borders. She reaffirmed the view that the growing level of cooperation between US and India is not only mutually beneficial but is also in the interest of the region.

Two presentations were made from the VIF side. While Ambassador Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary, covered Asia Pacific and Asia Pivot in light of vision statement by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, Dr VK Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog (a newly constituted body that replaced the Planning Commission) & former DG, DRDO & Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, unraveled the underpinnings of India’s quest for self-reliance in defence and ‘Make in India’. Some of the country’s best known practitioners of diplomacy and security attended the event.

Event Date 
March 10, 2015
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