Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam: Paper - III (General Studies – II) - 06 September 2018

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-III: General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Q. “The Indo-US relationship has been found to be evolving continuously in the recent past but it is not free from challenges”. Comment (250 words)

Model Answer:


  • Why in news?
  • Evolving Indo-US relations and the prospects
  • Associated challenges
  • What should the two nations do?
  • Conclusion

Why in news?

The inaugural India-US 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries is scheduled for 6 September in New Delhi. It is also the 10th anniversary of India receiving a waiver from the full-scope safeguards condition of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). 

Evolving Indo-US relations and the prospects

  • The NSG waiver and the subsequent India-US nuclear deal were the most important milestones in the transformation of this bilateral relationship.
  • The inaugural India-US 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries is another significant step in the same journey.
  • The strategic and defence relationship is underpinned by a common threat in the rise of an authoritarian China that doesn’t hesitate to flout global rules of engagement and aims to upend the US-led global order. US appreciate the role of India in putting up a joint counter to China’s rise.
  • The centrality of India in America’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy has been clearly recognized in the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy documents of US. The decision to rename the Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command was also a symbolic recognition of India’s importance to the evolving American worldview.
  • The resumption of the quadrilateral dialogue between India, the US, Japan and Australia, and US aligning its views with India’s on China’s belt and road initiative (BRI)—signals that India-US Indo-Pacific cooperation has never had greater momentum.
  • There is significant trade and economic cooperation between India and the US as highlighted by the fact that India has a surplus of $23 billion in trade with America.

Associated challenges

  • The US’ CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) law, threatens sanctions against India if the latter goes ahead with its decision to purchase the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
  • US President’s decision to jettison the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran and secondary sanctions on entities doing business with Iran has raised uncomfortable questions for India.
  • US walking out of the UNFCCC’s COP21 Paris Agreement on climate change have drawn worldwide criticism. India is still an active participant of it. If India somehow expresses its displeasure for the US move, it adversely impacts the bilateral relations between the two nations.
  • There are areas of cooperation that US President appreciates, like defence sales, and there are those he doesn’t, like H-1B visas for Indians.
  • During the ongoing 2 + 2 dialogue, India and the United States are in a deadlock over contentious trade issues after US is pressing India for additional imports to wipe off the trade surplus that India enjoys.

What should the two nations do?

  • The 2+2 dialogue allows the two nations to exchange frank views on various issues. For example – Iran and Russia will definitely figure in the discussions. It is important for both parties to be pragmatic. India has no reason to back away from the S-400 deal with Russia. The India-Russia defence relationship is a legacy of history that cannot be dismantled in a jiffy. Moreover, the operational superiorities of S-400 compared to whatever the US can provide are also well noted. Though India has been provided with a waiver from Caatsa, US would still be very concerned if India purchased major systems from Russia.
  • Geography makes Iran important to India. The oil imports can be curbed, but Iran is still India’s only viable route to Afghanistan and Central Asia. US should acknowledge this and allow flexibility to India in this case.
  • India should keep hammering the China factor and thus prop up the defence and strategic pillar of Indo-US relations.
  • Instead of pressing India for additional imports to wipe off the trade surplus that India enjoys, US should adopt a soft approach giving India good deals to level the trade deficit.


The US has already invested significantly in India and its rise. It should remind itself of the driving factors that led it to make India such an important partner. India should also understand that notwithstanding the churn in the global order—the rise of China and America’s withdrawal—the US remains its most important strategic partner. Such awareness on both sides will help keep the bilateral engagements anchored in realism.

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