India to build next aircraft carrier with US technology


India to build next aircraft carrier with US technology

NEW DELHI: India and the US have worked out the terms of reference for building the next Indian aircraft carrier with US technology.

This has been pushed through after the visit of US defence secretary Ash Carter. As both countries prepare for a September round of strategic dialogue in Washington DC, India is preparing to send a team to speed up talks on the aircraft carrier and the Light Combat Aircraft jet engine, which is also slated to be built with US assistance. 

The agenda has been set in the two summits held in September and January, but the key will be checking off the ambitious bucket list of projects. 

This will be the first strategic dialogue to be held in the new 2+2 format, including the foreign and commerce ministers. From the US side, it will be John Kerry and Penny Pritzker, commerce secretary, rather than Michael Froman their chief trade negotiator, who is generally believed to take a dim view of India and its trade practices. The US and India are expected to take forward earlier agreements on smart cities, which is likely to get priority. 

This year India-US relations will be tested on climate change as the Paris climate change summit, COP 21 looms. India will be under unprecedented pressure to declare ambitious emission targets. Climate change is a legacy issue for Barack Obama and he's expected to push hard.

China has been smarter - first, by clinching a climate deal with the US during Obama's visit, and second, by declaring their INDC (intended nationally determined contributions) just before a meeting with the French president, which made it seem like it was a special gesture by China. India tried to match it somewhat with an energy deal when Barack Obama visited India.

Even though India is far below China on per capita emissions, India will be cynosure of global, particularly US attention when it does finalize and announce its INDC. Officials expect this to be done in the coming weeks. 

India is scheduled to enter the US' Global Entry program, which is a pre-approval of immigration procedures for travelers to the US. This was agreed during Modi's visit to the US last year. However, the Indian system is yet to collate criminal data records digitally and online, which is a pre-requisite for entering such a program. 

With the Modi government prioritizing "ease of doing business" rules, sources say they are spending a lot of time with investors and private sector to get a better idea of how to simplify processes in India, which are one of the biggest impediments to domestic and foreign business. But the two countries continue to struggle to find common ground on IPR issues where India is expected to continue to take a diplomatic beating. 

Welcoming "the significant and welcome announcement" of India-Pakistan talks, US ambassador to India, Richard Verma told students in Chennai today, "This is the new normal ... India as the global strategic, political and economic player. We welcome that role and will continue to be supportive of India's global aspirations. We will continue to support India's bid for UNSC membership in a reformed security council," he said. "The United States and India look forward to a day very soon when, for the first time, we establish secure phone lines between our respective National Security Advisers, as well as between the President and Prime Minister, further opening key channels of communication on sensitive issues," he said.


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