India on 8 December 2016 was formally designated as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ of the United States. It was announced in the India-US joint statement on US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter’s visit to New Delhi.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had invited US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to India. It marked the seventh interaction between the two leaders.
- The designation is a status unique to India and institutionalizes the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners.
- The designation also ensures enduring cooperation in future.
- However, the two sides, in the joint statement, did not specify details of the benefits that will accrue to India under the designation.
National Defense Authorization Act, 2017
- India’s Major Defense Partner status has been made a part of the India Amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, 2017 (NDAA), approved by the US Congress to allocate funds annually to the US military. This Bill is expected to be passed shortly, which will put a official stamp on India’s status.
- Under the India Amendment in the NDAA 2017, the USA will inform the review of requests to export defence articles, defence services or related technology to India under the Arms Export Control Act. It will also inform any regulatory and policy adjustments that may be appropriate.
- Also, an American official will be designated to ensure the success of the Framework for the United States-India Defense Relationship, which was signed in 205. The designated associate will approve and facilitate the transfer of advanced technology, and will also strengthen the effectiveness of the US-India Defense Trade and Technology Initiative and the stability of the India Rapid Reaction Cell in Pentagon.
The United States had recognised India as a Major Defense Partner during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Washington in June 2016. The joint statement issued then had acknowledged the US-India defence relationship as a possible “anchor of stability.”
Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had given a non-paper to Carter during his visit to Pentagon in August 2016. The visit was followed by negotiations between the two sides on the exact contours of this designation. There were differences between the two sides about the level of technology transfer and cooperation permissible under the Major Defense Partner status. India was seeking benefits granted to the closest allies of the US, such as Australia and the UK which the Pentagon was hesitant to concede.