2+2: Mathematics With Uncle Sam

By: Shreyansh Kushwaha

There is a very popular proverb in India- “everybody salutes the rising sun” and it would not be a hyperbole to say that in the contemporary world, the “sun” is the United States of America. But the question that arises here is if this salute is a symbol of respect or is it to protect our eyes from the scorching “sun’s” rays?

“...it would be wrong for us if we do not take advantage of the opportunities that are now on the horizon. I sincerely believe that it is fine in the interest of our country to have good relations with all the major powers. I make no apology that we seek good relations with the United States. The United States is a pre-eminent power,”says the former Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on the growing proximity between India and the US.

The two major factors that have resulted in the Indo-US closeness are (a) the technological dimension- since the US absorbs 65% of India’s software export and also employs a large fraction of Indian engineers and professionals, and (b) the massive part played by the Indian-American diaspora. But the growing proximity in the Indo-US relations accelerated when a platform for dialogue and discussion called ‘2+2 Ministerial dialogue’ was set up between India and the US and its first round was held in 2018, New Delhi.

 

WHAT IS 2+2?

India holds 2+2 dialogue with three countries, namely- Japan, Australia and most importantly the USA at the ministerial level which altogether form the very renowned QUAD. It is not wrong to say that the mentioned dialogue format is the apex level of institutional mechanism between two countries. As the name suggests, the 2+2 dialogue is held between two countries at a time, wherein the foreign and defense ministers, or secretaries establish a discussion or dialogue with their counterparts from the other nation. The number of members in the meeting is a constant i.e. 4 (two from each country). The officials from the two countries meet, and discuss on the topics that are of political, strategic, diplomatic, military, cultural, demographic and most importantly, national importance. Threats to world peace and prosperity such as terrorism, poverty, war and regional aggression are also some of the key areas of discussion.

This partnership is of utmost importance for India when it is in the eve of beginning its non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council from January 2021. This relationship does not take into account the day to day activities and administration but is rooted in mutual interests and shared values of the member nations.

The first meeting between India and the US was held in the year 2018, the second dialogue was held in the year 2019 in Washington DC and the third meeting took place in the year 2020.

 

2+2: 2020 EDITION 

Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh and Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper for the third edition of Indo-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on October 27,2020 in New Delhi, India. The main objective of this event was to strengthen the already laid foundation of Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership the ultimate destination of which is stability in the region and the world.

Both the countries, during the meeting, reaffirmed each other on their close relationship and shared the like minded policies and strategies to operate in the Indo-Pacific countries for mutual benefits. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and his counterparts stressed on the possible and much needed Indo-US collaboration in the areas of medicine, therapeutics, development of vaccines with special emphasis on the globally most awaited COVID-19 Vaccine through an International Centre of Excellence and other health accessories.

In this meeting, an extremely important statement was issued which emphasized on the Indo-US goals in the Asia-Pacific region and outlined the code of conduct which should be abided by the countries situated in the bay of the South China sea in order to respect the international law, since the mentioned area has been growing into an intense hotspot where lie many overlapping interests of a number of nations. The discussion proved its multidimensional nature when the status of Afghanistan got a special mention in the meeting.

The USA assured India to defend its territorial sovereignty and freedom through a series of agreements between both the countries. Both the countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) which lists a plethora of fields where they shall extend cooperation, some of which are:

1.         Technical support in Earth observations and Earth Sciences.

2.         An agreement to carry forward the already signed MoU regarding the Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership.

Another agreement was signed between both the countries on the cooperation in traditional Ayurvedic medicines and electronic exchange of customs data.

 

BECA: ONE OF THE FOUR

 The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) on geospatial cooperation in the third edition of 2+2 dialogue was the highest action taken in this meeting. BECA is one of the four foundational agreements for strategic ties signed between India and the US. The other three agreements are as follows:

a.         General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)

b.         Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)

c.         Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)

BECA is an agreement that allows the member countries i.e. India and the US to have access to a very wide range of extremely accurate geospatial data from each other such as nautical and aeronautical charts, regional maps, commercial and unclassified imagery, satellite images, geodetic, geophysical, geo-magnetic and gravity data etc. This will be extremely beneficial for India given the current geo-political and military situation. The format of the information shared can be printed as well as digital but with enough security measures so that this highly confidential data is not leaked.

BECA had been proposed long back, but the major hindrance to this was the UPA government, which was then in power. Many practical and justified concerns were raised by the security forces on the foreign access to the highly private data as well as laboratories, but gradually these concerns have been diluted and the trust on the US intent has become stronger.

 

2+2=22 ?

In today’s scenario the most luscious option available to all the emerging countries is to join the US system and become a part of it. If examined, this actually is a pragmatic step because friendship with the US does come with a host of opportunities which can prove to be extremely beneficial. But then again, keeping in mind the blasphemous past of the USA, and the catastrophe it brought upon the middle eastern countries, no one can be completely sure of ‘Uncle Sam’s’ next step. Therefore even while collaborating with the US on a small scale, a country needs to be really careful, because no matter what, Iran and Iraq can never be forgotten!

“We have also to take note of the fact that today US is -whether we like it or not- is the only superpower in this unipolar world.  But at the same time we must also remember that India is also emerging as a world power, a superpower. Therefore, we feel that we should have good relations with the USA in the international scenario, but it should not be at the cost of our security,”says Maj. Gen.(Retired) BC Khanduri from Bharatiya Janata Party.

 

REFERENCES:

1.         Contemporary World Politics- NCERT

2.         https://www.thestatesman.com/what-is/2-plus-2-dialogue-explainer-india-us-initiative-1502668317.html

3.         https://www.state.gov/highlights-of-2020-u-s-india-22-ministerial-dialogue

4.         Drishti IAS notes.