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Indo-US Relations for the 21st Century

India and the United States are democracies that may have traversed vastly different paths throughout their lifetimes but unbeknownst to many they have carried with them similar values. These are values that have enabled pluralistic and just societies to take shape under the democratic umbrella. And as the 21st century makes its initial turns, these two nations continually seek ways to grow and mature in the arena of representative government.

Some of the most significant movements in the history of the two nations emanated from a moral vision that placed nonviolence front and center. The American civil rights movement was led by men and women who spent years in India studying Mahatma Gandhi’s method of nonviolent transformation – the only method that enables ordinary citizens to participate. But since those glorious days of Dr.King this intellectual interaction has all but died. The time to revive it has come.

For far too long the security paradigm has dictated Indo-US relations. First the security paradigm manifested itself in a triangulated equation with the Soviet Union and in the last decade the Soviet Union has been replaced by Pakistan as the third vertex of this equation. An approach based on this paradigm has been necessitated by various geo-political developments preventing desirable growth on other fronts – economic, intellectual, scientific, and many more. The 1998 nuclear tests that triggered automatic sanctions against India further froze relationships. The last few years have, however, seen encouraging economic engagement. But that too has been limited.

We aspire to enable a new relationship develop between India and the United States. We want to start a conversation that helps both nations to become better democracies by using this relationship to better the lives of their citizens. Cognizant of the differences that exist we are optimistic about building mutually beneficial structures on the foundations of common interests.

New ideas from a new generation are going to guide policymakers and citizens groups towards a new relationship. The latent creative genius of our generation will be tapped in researching and developing policy initiatives that will affect the lives of our citizens as directly as possible. Our goal in both countries will be to work in areas of public life that will eventually increase public participation in the democratic process. That participation hinges on the socio-economic well-being of our people. Our focus of research is thus on issues that we feel affect this dynamic of democracy which directly affects its growth.

One way which we would like to distinguish ourselves from other commendable efforts is in our political focus towards the issues of democracy. We feel that elected representatives on both sides have to be an integral part of our work and hence engagement with them is a high priority. Our work so far is reflective of this approach. We feel that by bringing new ideas and research to them we can provide them a larger intellectual and political space to try new things.

The representatives of both nations are the prisms through which the two countries are viewed. Their engagement with each other is the gateway to interaction between the two peoples. There are many NGO’s doing great work in pushing forward a progressive agenda for Indo-US relationship but only the elected leaders of both countries can provide a scalable framework that can indeed achieve the objectives espoused by many.

Not lost on us is the fact that leadership is an evolving feature of democracy. We intend to seek out young leaders in both countries and provide them with intellectual and political capital to pursue shared ideas of progress. We believe that both India and the United States have to continually seek a higher democratic plane to be good friends and good leaders in the world. Without addressing the social and economic concerns of their own citizens and especially the underprivileged they cannot become the moral voice for change. Our research focus will amply reflect this ideal of ours.

We at Young India are determined to pursue ideas that seek to explore newer ways to strengthen democracy not through coercion but cooperation. If Gandhi and King could do it without weapons then so can we!

Learn more about Young India's focus on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal


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