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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/22/2013 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

India makes a natural U.S. ally.

Joe Biden has arrived in India for a high-level visit with that country's prime minister. The visit is part of a concentrated effort to won over key figures within the second-most populous country in the world.

India is seeking to strengthen its military with U.S. made goods.

India is seeking to strengthen its military with U.S. made goods.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/22/2013 (8 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: India, Biden, alliance, trade, power, visit


NEW DELHI, INDIA (Catholic Online) - Vice President Biden is in India, attempting to strengthen ties between the Indian government and the U.S. Both countries already enjoy brisk trade and good relations, but there's more to be had, from an American perspective.

India is poised to become a major regional superpower as the country's technology sector and industry booms. Although many Americans think of India as an impoverished state, the country has a bustling middle class and a thriving free market economy.

As American power seems to wane, and other regional powers emerge, especially China, the United States needs new and powerful allies in Asia.

Biden's visit is intended to promote such a relationship, in the hopes that it produces a stronger alliance between the two countries.

In addition to strategic benefits, a closer relationship with India means better economic opportunities for the U.S. Most Americans see India as a place to send outsourced jobs and call centers, but India is also thriving economically which means new markets for American products.

When the rest of the world was enduring the Great Recession, India was booming with a 50 percent rise in GDP. The trade between the two countries has risen from $25 billion to $100 billion since 2006. Obama has suggested in comments that trade could rise another five times further. Even without political hyperbole, there's room for both countries to grow.

Defense is another area where the U.S. and India could grow closer. India has typically filled its arsenal with Russian-produced equipment, including an aircraft carrier laded with MiG fighter jets. A decade ago, India spent just $100 million on U.S. made defense equipment. Now, the nation spends about $10 billion per year for U.S. products and is likely to spend more.

India has been looking to diversify its defense spending, purchasing $20 billion on new French fighter jets. However, the United States is still the world leader in defense technology so there is tremendous demand for U.S. produced equipment.

It helps that the American flag flown on American-made aircraft is what many in India see when the U.S. delivers humanitarian supplies to flood-stricken districts in India.

India is important for another reason. India is itself a victim of Islamic extremism and terrorism, so the state makes a natural ally. The state's native Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist populations are not known for militant religious extremism. However, neighboring U.S. "frenemy," Pakistan,  is a source for extremists and a continued threat to the Indian state.

As the United States seeks to expand its regional hegemony to the point that friendly democracies, or approximations thereof, are forged across Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, India can provide a valuable base of operations.

An alliance with the country can also balance Chinese regional influence.

India is already a key U.S. partner and immigration from India also satisfies a demand for labor. A surprising number of Indian natives immigrate to the United States to fill vital roles in medicine, engineering, and more. It is hoped that relationship will continue as India emerges as a major power in the 21st century.

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