State's Boucher Praises Growing U.S.-India Relationship

By Lea Terhune
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - Stopping in New Delhi on his tour of South and Central Asia, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher told Indian business leaders he was impressed with the growth of the U.S.-India relationship.

“It’s really going gangbusters in so many ways,” he said at a meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) August 7.

Boucher underscored three factors critical to this acceleration: people, technology and prosperity. The 2 million Indian Americans in the United States, the 65,000 or more Americans living in India and the 80,000 Indian students in the United States, “more than any other country,” are engaged in a remarkable conversation that is stimulating creativity in business and other fields, he said. Through email and more frequent travel, Indians and Americans are staying in touch like never before.

“A lot of the business that we have seen started between the U.S. and India is business between friends and classmates and cousins,” he said.

Technology is another driving force, he said. Citing successful outsourcing to India and innovations in medicine and biotechnology, Boucher said that business people are “finding new ways of cooperating in technology that they really continue to astound us.”

He said the Agricultural Knowledge Initiative, established by President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeks to apply modern technology in agriculture and “provide a second Green Revolution for the people of India.”

“The centerpiece of our technology cooperation,” he said, “is the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement.” Describing the ongoing discussions about the agreement in the U.S. Congress, Boucher said “I am very confident in predicting that this bill will reflect the agreement made by the President and the Prime Minister, that it will allow us to go forward and implement the initiative.” He reiterated the Bush administration’s commitment to that outcome. (See related article.)

Prosperity is something both the United States and India are interested in creating, and Boucher emphasized the importance of cooperation in agriculture, manufacturing and other areas in alleviating poverty. “[I]n the long term we are doing this for the people of India and the people of the United States, and not just for the people who have benefited already, but for the people who have not benefited yet,” he said.

He assured the group that the United States wants to partner with India in the fight against terrorism. “We are working with India. We are working with all nations of the region to try to beat the threat of terrorism,” he said.

He added, “India has no stronger ally in fighting global terrorism than the United States.”  The United States is also working with Pakistan “to weaken forces of intolerance and extremism,” and to target terrorist groups. The goal, he said, is  “to get at the bottom of this problem so that you do not have to suffer these attacks any more, and we do not, and nobody else in the region does either.”

A fact sheet on the Agricultural Knowledge Initiative is available on the Web site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.