The following article, co-authored with Tanvi Madan, originally appeared in Mint on June 20, 2017. The full text is available here.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US President Donald Trump for the first time, the focus will be on establishing a good rapport between the two leaders. There remain concerns that their two governments’ objectives are not compatible: that Trump’s “America First” approach, which conceives of US interests in narrow, transactional terms, will be at odds with Modi’s agenda to transform India. But one area of natural convergence is in the defence and security realm.
...Modi’s forthcoming visit is, therefore, a chance to boost security cooperation, understand each other’s strategic priorities, and build constituencies for the bilateral relationship in both countries. While greater clarity on issues such as China will facilitate cooperation, uncertainty can impede these efforts. There will continue to be differences, and these too should be addressed candidly. India will also need to follow up words with actions, and promises with performance. But on security and strategic matters, India has a good story to tell. Modi’s visit provides an opportunity to highlight for Trump the value of an India that is willing to buy American military equipment, play a greater burden-sharing role, enhance dialogue on regional security, and work more seamlessly with the US military to meet common objectives.