Time to renew ‘unique’ India-US partnership that can benefit a fifth of humanity: Amb Sandhu

New York, Feb 17 (PTI) As the world fights COVID-19 and an economic crisis, it is time to renew the “unique partnership” between India and America that can directly benefit a fifth of humanity and be a source of durable peace and security for the rule-based world order, the Indian ambassador to the US has said.

In an opinion piece titled ‘Meeting the Challenge of our Times: Deepening the India-US Partnership’ in American news outlet Newsweek, ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu outlines five key areas of cooperation between New Delhi and Washington that will benefit not just the two democracies but also help usher a safer, healthier, and more prosperous world.

These areas are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, combating climate crisis, digital capabilities, education partnership and deepening defense and strategic partnership.

“As the world comes to terms with its biggest disruption in more than half a century, it is time to renew the promise of a unique partnership that can directly benefit a fifth of humanity, and can be a source of durable peace and security for the rule-based world order,” Sandhu writes.

While the two countries have forged a remarkable partnership over the last two decades built on a bipartisan consensus in the US and cross-party support in India, Sandhu said under the new US administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris: we can build on that foundation to benefit our nations and the world .

“Our immediate work with the US administration will focus on confronting the pandemic, advancing our wide-ranging cooperation in health care, which ranges from scientific exchanges (five vaccine collaborations are currently underway) to pharmaceutical inputs and exchange of best practices, he said.

India, the “pharmacy of the world , has shipped COVID-19 vaccines to its neighbours in South Asia as well as to other partners, including in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, he said.

‘Furthermore, from the provision of active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic medicines that have lowered drug prices and created jobs and investments, India has demonstrated its reliability as a supply chain partner, especially as de-risking from single country supplies has become a priority, the Indian ambassador said.

The shared concern between the two countries in creating a healthier world goes hand in hand with combating climate change, which Sandhu listed as the second area of cooperation.

Underscoring that India remains committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Accord, Sandhu welcomed the return of the US to this important agreement.

Noting that the two countries already work together in renewable energy under the Strategic Energy Partnership, he said, “we can build on these gains and accelerate a green transformation through effective technology transfers, financing and an equity-based approach that will increase access to renewable energy for a wider population, which in turn will create global low-carbon pathways, green jobs and achieve shared climate goals.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, economic growth would depend on digital capabilities, which will be critical in how our large populations work, study and interact , he wrote.

Sandhu said there are tremendous opportunities to expand collaboration in frontier technologies like 5G, AI, big data analytics, quantum computing, blockchain and IoT, describing the digital and tech partnerships as the third area of cooperation.

The next area of partnership is in the education domain as virtual collaborations have been made possible by bringing together the best minds in India and the US, he said.

With more than 200,000 Indian students studying in the US, the education partnership has become a source of strength and an important bridge between the peoples of the two countries, he said.

Sandhu emphasised that none of these partnerships are possible without the guarantee of security, and it is natural that democracies with shared values should partner with each other to ensure a safer, more secure world.

“Our deepening defense and strategic partnership, therefore, constitutes the fifth area of cooperation, which rests on a strong institutional framework for defense collaboration and our shared strategic interests.

This will be particularly important in Asia where we will work bilaterally and with like-minded partners to pursue a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, while advancing the security and economic interests of countries with legitimate and vital interests in the region, Sandhu said.

India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.

“As we confront an unprecedented moment in history the twin crises of the pandemic and economic slowdown, as well as the long-term challenge of climate change our countries have a unique opportunity to work together to meet the moment,” Sandhu said.

“These five areas provide us with a robust platform: if we rise to the occasion, we can bring about a safer, healthier and more prosperous world,” he wrote.