San Francisco, Nov 15: The summit between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping here is an important one and key global players like India will be watching its outcome very closely, the head of a top India-centric business and strategic group has said.
Mukesh Aghi, CEO of the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) told PTI that it is important that communication starts between the US and China, the two largest global economies.
The much-anticipated summit between Biden and Xi will take place on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which the US is hosting in San Francisco from November 11 to 17.
“I think the summit is important both from President Biden’s perspective and also President Xi’s perspective. China is struggling with its economy. There are issues in the growth story, unemployment. And the US is going into an election, and it already has two wars going on, one in the Middle East and one in Ukraine. So, it needs a China which is stable, it needs a China, which is collaborative and cooperative. Will that happen? We don’t know, but I think it’s important that communication starts between the two countries,” Aghi said.
“Now, from an Indian perspective, I think you have two weak leaders coming together. And you have Prime Minister Modi who’s a strong leader at the moment. So, I think India is going to watch this carefully because it does have an impact geopolitically or on India’s position in the Indo-Pacific region. We wish all the best outcomes at the same time, India will watch this very, very carefully,” he said.
Aghi asserted that the India-US relationship is “very strong”, has momentum, and is moving in the right direction.
“Yes, you do have all the time in any relationship, but I think the maturity of the leadership on both sides can handle those issues. So, I feel the momentum continues,” he said.
Aghi said bilateral trade is on the rise, the number of Indian students in the US has gone up to 2,70,000, and the Indian American population has gone up to almost five million.
“From that perspective, the relationship is moving in the right direction,” he added.
The ICET Dialogue that was launched early this year, he said, has started almost 108 different initiatives from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity.
“What we have seen is that General Electric has signed a deal with HAL to manufacture GE engines. That will take time. That’s a seven to 10-year project. It’ll slowly keep on moving in that direction. We have seen in other areas, things have moved forward. I wish that it could move much faster because I think you need to create that momentum, you need to create that urgency,” he said.
“We are working very closely both with the Biden administration and the Indian government to see how we can support and assist in expediting the whole ICET process,” he added.
Observing that India’s defence platform is over 52 per cent dependent on Russia, he said the country needs to move away and create a platform that is an Indian platform.
“ICET is going to help from that perspective. It’s also going to help the US because what happens is you’re able to produce the same quality equipment, same quality software at one-fifth the cost so that the pressure on us from defence spending perspective also can get managed,” he said.
“To me, it’s like the old story of generic drugs. Twenty years ago, India didn’t have much of the US market. Today it has 30 per cent of the US market bringing savings worth hundreds of billions of dollars to the US health budget. I see the defence also going forward 20 years from now is going to play the same pivotal role as the generic drug credit for the US market,” Aghi explained.
Responding to a question on the situation in the Middle East, the USISPF CEO said India is one of the largest victims of terrorism.
Prime Minister Modi was quick to condemn terrorism and at the same time asserted India’s position that innocent people should be spared, he said.
“So, India has come out quite strongly on the killing of the Palestinians, especially women, children, and innocent men itself. I think India has a strong relationship with Israel. India has a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. I think India can play a very pivotal role trying to find the balance between the region among the Israelis and Arabs,” he said.
When asked about the India-Canada diplomatic row, Aghi said it’s unfortunate that the prime minister of a country without any evidence, levels allegations in a parliament.
It is “a serious violation of statesmanship. It’s a serious violation of diplomatic norms. If you have an issue, work through the back channels and India has asked. It has been months now, give us the evidence and there’s no evidence coming out,” he said.
At the same time money flow from Canadian Khalistani to India continues, he noted.
“My thinking is very simple. We went after Pakistan, we put them on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list itself. There’s more money coming from Canada to basically fund terrorism in India. I think we should not think about putting Canada on the FATP list. You have two countries, great countries, democracies because of local politics, the partnership between the two countries has been hijacked.
“I think we need to come out of that and lower the temperature. What we are seeing is that India has allowed visa processing to take place. India is kind of bringing the temperature down and I hope that continues,” he said. (PTI)
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