Foreign policy and economic experts have stressed on the need for both India and U.S. to develop a strong economic relationship before transforming it into a really strategic partnership.
Participating in a roundtable on 'India's External Economic Engagements' in Delhi, organized by Observer Research Foundation and Hudson Institute, US, the experts said only a strong economic relationship can lead to a real strategic partnership.
"Strategic relationship cannot be created at the government to government level. It will have to be business driven, trade driven," underlined former Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Dr. Husain Haqqani, who is Director, South and Central Asia of the Hudson Institute.
"Will the bureaucrats in Delhi allow this to happen? Will the folks at the US State Department have the vision to see it happen?" asked Dr. Haqqani.
Chairing the session, Dr. Rajeev Kumar, former Director General of the FICCI, said he was clear that business to business relationship is going to be the bedrock of a real strategic relationship and this required 'more nurturing'.
Dr Kumar stressed that a real strategic relationship between India and US needs to be based on equity and mutual respect and has to be something like that of US-French relationship.
"This relationship has to be strategic and not transactional in nature," he said.
Dr. Kumar, now Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, suggested that India should not hesitate to give concessions wherever necessary to attract FDIs. He said India need not worry about Sino-US relationship as it is going to be based more on competition rather than cooperation.
He also suggested the US should make use of India's knowledge and prowess in understanding and managing Islamic fundamentalists.
Hardeep Puri, India's former Permanent Representative at the UN, said while he agreed that strong economic relationship is the base for a strategic relationship, however, it cannot be based on any one model.
Subir Gokarn, former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, said non-external economic issues - both in India and the US - too affected bilateral economic relations.
Welcoming the participants at the two-day conference, ORF Director Sunjoy Joshi stressed on the need to diversify and increase the bilateral trade and also the need for Indian companies to get creatively engaged.
The conference had sessions on "US-India Strategic Relations", "Innovation, Intellectual Property Rights and Healthcare", "International Trade, Foreign Direct Investment and Capital Market Reforms", "Defence and Military Industries" and "Energy, Environment and Education Sector - Reform and Private Sector Participation".