The U.S.-India relationship is vital to security and stability in the world and is founded on a shared commitment to freedom, democratic principles, and the rule of law. The strong people-to-people ties between the countries, reflected in a strong Indian American diaspora, have been a tremendous source of strength for the partnership. U.S.-Indian relations have recently benefited from close ties between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump, following a 20-year effort to improve relations that has survived many political transitions in both countries. The past two decades have seen a surge in bilateral trade and a growing convergence of strategic interests, and in recent years a series of military co-operation deals. On many transnational issues, including cybersecurity, freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean, and climate change - New Delhi and Washington are natural partners linked by common interests and values. Growing antagonism between China and the West also favors closer links between India and the US. Taken together, this should provide confidence for the future of the relationship. Will economic retrenchment and economic headwinds due to the COVID pandemic dampen US-India ties, or will these flourish as China’s global ambitions become subject to greater pushback?
The Center for Global Management and Indian School of Business (ISB) hosted a discussion on U.S.-India relations that addressed these questions and more. Arvind Singhal (’82), president of the UCLA Anderson Alumni Chapter in India and chairman of Technopak Advisors moderated a fascinating and broad reaching discussion with Shyam Saran, 26th foreign secretary of India; Keshav Murugesh, group CEO of WNS Global Services, a NYSE listed company in the BPM business headquartered in Mumbai; and Romain Wacziarg, professor of economics and Hans Hufschmid Chair in Management who teaches the CGM’s business environment of India global immersion courses. Bhagwan Chowdhry, professor of finance at ISB and research professor at UCLA Anderson provided opening remarks. Singhal set the context for the 90-minute conversation by addressing three historical phases of the relationship: pre-1947; post India’s independence and pre-reforms in India; and post-Cold War. He contextualized the relationship through different prisms. Panelists then explored the strategic relations, macro linkages of trade and financial flows as well as the business and societal linkages between the world’s two largest democracies. The global audience of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the extended UCLA and ISB communities and general public asked many interesting questions during the audience Q&A that went into a deeper discussion on some of the key topics raised and addressed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP), arguably the largest free trade agreement in history that was recently signed by 15 countries. India was to be a member of the RCEP but withdrew. During open discussion among the panelists, they also addressed what opportunities exist to expand the U.S.-India partnership in support of mutual interests during these challenging times with the hope that India and the United States will someday attain the relationship they deserve. Panelists reached an optimistic consensus on the bright future of U.S.-India relations. The discussion which was part of the CGM’s World Today Discussion Series was in partnership with The Global ISB Forum (TGIF), supported by the ISB-EY Initiative for Emerging Markets. The World Today Discussion Series engages students in dialogue in an interactive, engaging and enriching discussion format around current global issues that transcend borders. Through the series, the CGM engages globally minded students with issues that matter and ideas that stimulate. Through balanced discourse, the series serves as a neutral forum to educate students on global issues while at the same time encourage debate and examination. UCLA Anderson’s Center for Global Management is committed to providing timely and relevant information about critical global topics and issues that matter to our community and the world.