The launch of the India-US initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan is an important signal that the two countries are ready to break down barriers, foster ties in technology and bolster defence cooperation, experts said.
Sullivan and Doval met at the White House on Tuesday along with their respective high-powered delegations for the inaugural iCET dialogue.
Announced during US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral talks in Tokyo in May last year, the iCET is spearheaded by the National Security Councils of both countries.
It focused on strengthening the US-India partnership on the technologies that will drive global growth, bolster both countries’ economic competitiveness, and protect shared national security interests.
“The holding of the inaugural iCET meeting between the Indian and US National Security Advisors is a major milestone for the relationship and signals that the two sides are ready to break down barriers to closer technology and defence cooperation,” Lisa Curtis, Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Programme at Centre for New American Security told PTI.
Curtis, a former CIA official, was deputy assistant to the president and NSC senior director for South and Central Asia from 2017 to 2021, during which she played a key role in shaping India-US ties.
“Both sides stand to gain from the emerging technology partnership: India will gain access to defence technologies that will bolster its capabilities at a time when China-India border friction is increasing and clashes like the one at Galwan Valley in June 2020 and near Tawang in December 2022 are becoming more frequent,” Curtis explained.
“For its part, the US will benefit from enhancing scientific cooperation and harmonising standards and ethical approaches to technology development with an influential democratic power with a vibrant economy and burgeoning tech talent at the heart of the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
Curtis said it was important to establish the technology dialogue at the NSA level, as it can convene the various government agencies and departments within their respective bureaucracies to take action and move cooperation forward.
“The launch of iCET is a pivotal moment in the US-India partnership,” Mukesh Aghi, president of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) told PTI. Completing the work on the long-awaited NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) earth observation satellite is an excellent example of how the US-India partnership in space can benefit the world.
"Climate Change is a real threat in front of us, and NISAR brings both countries closer to fighting this threat," he said.
“iCET launch is like the big bang moment for the scientists in both countries. It will open up opportunities for deeper collaboration and more research between the two countries. USISPF is delighted to see the launch come to fruition,” Aghi said.
US India Business Council commended the Biden administration on working with India to launch the iCET.
“By strengthening our technology partnership with India, we will make both our economies stronger and ready to shape the next phase of global growth,” it said. According to Ronak D. Desai, a leading India practitioner at Paul Hastings LLP and an expert at the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University, said the iCET is a powerful reminder of the genuinely multidimensional nature of U.S.-India ties, as well as the extent to which bilateral relations are spanning virtually every arena of human cooperation conceivable.
“iCET’s promise is enormous and carries with it the potential for the United States and India to achieve new, unprecedented levels of convergence in critical areas of interest to both countries,” he said.
The symbolism of the iCET dialogue is just as important as the substance underlying it.
The initiative represents yet another formidable investment by the United States into its strategic partnership with India. It underscores the Biden administration’s desire to further expand and elevate its relationship with India at a particularly crucial time internationally, Desai said.
The historic dialogue represents an unprecedented opportunity for key segments of the American and Indian private sector to collaborate further and become e critical stakeholders in the burgeoning US-India relationship, Desai added.
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