216716: Scenesetter for Secretary of State Clinton's visit to India

India's bureaucracy remains stove piped and slow-moving, and in many instances populated by senior officials who came of age during the Cold War, steeped in the ""non-aligned"" rhetoric of the 60s and 70s, and perhaps afraid to take forward leaning stances.

March 28, 2011 01:58 am | Updated March 17, 2021 02:56 pm IST

216716 7/15/2009 12:39 09NEWDELHI1464 Embassy New Delhi SECRET//NOFORN "VZCZCXRO7841


DE RUEHNE #1464/01 1961239


O 151239Z JUL 09


















E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/29/2029




Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Peter Burleigh for Reasons 1.4

(B, D)

1. (SBU) Madame Secretary: Mission India warmly welcomes you to India. This is an opportune moment in the relationship between the world's largest democracies. The Congress Party's strong showing in the April elections allowed formation of a new and strong Indian government--freed from the constraints of anti-American coalition partners or a precarious political position---with a commitment to elevate the bilateral relationship.

2. (SBU) As the Obama Administration's first cabinet Secretary to visit India and meet the new Indian government, you are well-positioned to launch our partnership to the next level. Both the Indian government and public eagerly await your visit. The speech you gave at the USIBC event received much favorable press here.

Deliverables on the Overall Relationship, Defense, S&T, and More


3. (C) During your visit we plan to announce the formal establishment of a new architecture for our bilateral relationship. You will sign the Science and Technology (S&T) Endowment Agreement, which creates a $30 million endowment to fund joint projects. We will also highlight an agreement on technology safeguards (TSA) that will boost what we hope will be expedited negotiations for a Commercial Space Launch Agreement (CSLA) and expand opportunities for satellite services. In addition, we hope to announce resolution of a long-standing roadblock to an expanded defense relationship if agreement is reached on End Use Monitoring (EUM) language. We also hope to announce the opening of talks on a Bilateral Investment Treaty. We have encouraged the Indian government to announce publicly during your visit the designation of two nuclear reactor sites for U.S. companies.

A Forward Leaning Government and Cabinet


4. (SBU) The strong performance by the Congress Party and its United Progressive Alliance allies in India's national elections in April provided the Congress Party with a mandate to govern, after years of battling communists and regional coalition ""partners"" over both domestic and foreign policy issues, including a closer relationship with the United States. This has allowed the Prime Minister to assemble a cabinet that some in the media have referred to as ""Manmohan's dream team,"" including the new External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna. Krishna is the first Indian foreign minister to have received a degree from a U.S. university (Southern Methodist University, along with a Fulbright term at George Washington University). In his first press interaction, he promised to consolidate India's partnership with the United States, along with other major powers. With the return to the Cabinet of key players such as Pranab Mukherjee as Finance Minister, P Chidambaram as Home Minister, and AK Antony as Defense Minister, we anticipate stability in our bilateral relationship and a continuation of the positive, if sometimes bumpy, trajectory that has marked our ties for the past decade.

Reassuring India


5. (C) Your visit will be crucial in reassuring India that the relationship is as important to the current administration as it was to the previous one. Some Indian pundits fear that Washington is no longer looking at India through the Asian geopolitical prism but rather through the regional--i.e., Afghanistan-Pakistan lens. In contrast, they believe the new administration has focused on China as the key player on Asian issues. These observers feel threatened by discussion of trilateral security talks between the U.S., China, and Japan.

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Ready to Step onto the World Stage


6. (SBU) India's goal is to become a regional power and global player. The ambition at the top echelons of the government is readily apparent, as India vigorously pursues its number one foreign policy goal -- a permanent UNSC seat. India uses its voice in the G-20 and active engagement in multilateral fora like the East Asia Summit and Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) Summit to raise its profile. The same ambition drives military modernization efforts and spurs India to take on greater security responsibilities, not only in longstanding UN peacekeeping operations, but also in joint security efforts such as anti-piracy operations off Somalia.

But a Few Roadblocks Remain: Bureaucracy


7. (SBU) Although the Congress Party's victory set the stage for bolder moves on its foreign policy agenda, serious challenges remain. India's bureaucracy remains stove piped and slow-moving, and in many instances populated by senior officials who came of age during the Cold War, steeped in the ""non-aligned"" rhetoric of the 60s and 70s, and perhaps afraid to take forward leaning stances. There is a lack of capacity in every sector of the Indian bureaucracy.

Poverty and Poor Health


8. (SBU) The extreme level of domestic poverty also stands in stark contrast to India's global ambitions. While India's poverty levels have fallen in the past decade as the economy has grown, hundreds of millions of Indians continue to subsist on less than two U.S. dollars a day. India is home to the third largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS and one-fourth of the world's tuberculosis cases. It is one of four nations in which polio still exists. PM Singh has signaled that improved governance and service delivery toward poverty reduction are top priorities in his second term.

9. (SBU) Congress Party leaders attribute its strong showing in the April elections to the close attention it paid to the rural sector during the previous government. Despite expectations that the current coalition's strong base would allow it to pursue ""big bang"" economic reforms, the more likely approach is gradual reform with a close watch at each step on political and social effects of policy changes. The UPA's July 6 budget proposal focuses most new spending on a rural employment program and rural infrastructure.

And Perhaps Most of All, Pakistan


10. (C) India's efforts to be the regional power in South Asia and act as a global player face their greatest challenge from India's troubled relationship with Pakistan. Indian leaders you meet will all point to growing signs that the Pakistani state no longer exercises effective control over its territory, but at the same time these genuine expressions of concern will not be accompanied by any solid ideas about how India can help arrest Pakistan's decline. The small steps toward dialogue in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, such as the June meeting between PM Singh and President Zardari and the planned meeting between PM Singh and PM Gilani at the NAM summit in Sharm-al-Sheikh, are likely to produce limited results at best. Your Indian interlocutors will argue that India has relaunched dialogue each time after a major terrorist attack, but that Pakistan has taken no effective steps to rein in extremist elements that launch the attacks. After the Mumbai attacks, India's willingness to begin talks again is quite limited; on multiple occasions, Indian leaders have made it clear that progress against Pakistan-based terrorist groups (including the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks) is a prerequisite for NEW DELHI 00001464 003 OF 006 resumption of the formal dialogue process.

11. (C) Despite early concerns, the GOI now appreciates Special Representative Holbrooke's active outreach to India on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy, and has agreed to contribute more toward Afghan reconstruction. GOI officials will be very interested in hearing from you how President Obama views South Asia. Hypersensitivity remains in the government and the general Indian public over whether the U.S. intends to interfere in Kashmir and/or sacrifice Indian securty interests to U.S. objectives in Afghanistan. Indian officials emphatically reject suggestions of a link between the problems on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and the India-Pakistan relationship, especially the dispute over Kashmir.

A Burgeoning Power in a Tough Neighborhood


12. (C) Elsewhere in the region, the U.S. and India generally share similar goals for stability and democratic governance in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, and have coordinated better than in the past. Policies toward Burma and Iran remain exceptions, largely because India's proximity, historical ties, and strategic and economic interests leave it with a policy perspective that more often than not differs from ours. The good news for the United States is that the same leaders who have a vision for India's ascendancy generally recognize that healthy relations with the U.S. are essential for India to get to where it wants to be.

New Architecture for U.S.-India 3.0


13. (SBU) The major thrust of your visit will be to conclude an agreement on the architecture for dialogues that will form the pillars for our partnership in the coming years. The five pillars are Science, Technology, Health, and Innovation; Strategic Cooperation; Energy and Climate Change; Education and Development; and Economics, Trade, and Agriculture.

Science, Technology, Health, and Innovation


14. (SBU) Technology and science are common strengths and priorities of our two knowledge-based democracies. The U.S. and India have a close and long-standing relationship in Science and Technology (S&T) led by academic, commercial and official institutions and encompassing a wide range of topics including health, agriculture, biotechnology, nanotechnology, space, nuclear technology, defense/security research and development, and environmental sciences. Despite India's recent economic growth, hundreds of millions of Indians live without adequate access to food, healthcare, education, and water. Together, our open societies can generate ideas and initiatives to help close the technological and health divide between various segments of India's huge population. The Science, Technology, Health and Innovation pillar will include a three-part S&T Dialogue, and the first bilateral ministerial-level dialogue dedicated to health and biomedical sciences.

Strategic Cooperation


15. (SBU) We seek a closer partnership with India on defense, counterterrorism, homeland security, and non-proliferation issues. This pillar covers strategic security talks, the high technology cooperation group, the defense policy group, a forum on global issues, the joint working group on counterterrorism, and an expanded discussion of security challenges in South Asia and beyond, including the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia.

Growing Defense and CT Partnership


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16. (S) In general, the defense relationship is on a strong growth curve despite a variety of frustrations. While the Indian uniformed leadership of all three Services, and in particular the Indian Navy, appreciate their improving ties with the United States military, bureaucratic inertia and recalcitrant officials in the Ministries of External Affairs and Defense continue to complicate attempts to improve the partnership. Despite these challenges, military-to-military contacts continue to be a strong foundation of our strategic partnership. We conducted the largest ground forces/counterterrorism centric combined exercise to date in February 2009 and are poised to conduct air and army exercises in the fall. India has already hosted visits this year from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commander of United States Pacific Command, and the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. We continue to seek opportunities for capacity-building, greater access and improved partnering through more focused combined exercises, better-tailored subject matter exchange events, and additional high-level visitor exchanges.

17. (C) Defense sales have risen from near zero in 2004 to over $2.2 billion already in 2009, with prospects for further expansion. Despite this potential, the sale of military equipment and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process has been halted pending agreement on End Use Monitoring (EUM). At a time when our defense relationship is otherwise beginning to flourish, the lack of an EUM agreement has become an irritant. If EUM has not been resolved at the time of your visit, you will be positioned to stress at the highest levels that EUM is a requirement of U.S. law, has been accepted by over eighty other countries, and will have to be accepted by India if it desires to procure the state-of-the-art technology we would like to share.

Counterterrorism Cooperation


18. (SBU) India continues to rank among the world's most terror-afflicted countries. We have seen increased willingness to accept U.S. offers of training and other assistance, particularly from the FBI and on intelligence sharing, in the wake of the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai. In general, however, progress on increased tangible programs reains slow, and as in the defense relationship, India often foregoes opportunities through failing to respond to offers within needed time frames. The June 2009 bilateral counterterrorism talks, chaired by CT Coordinator Benjamin in Washington, were positive and provided some suggested avenues for expanding cooperation. We are hopeful the Minister of Home Affairs will visit the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in early 2010. We also continue to encourage India to play a positive role in sub-regional cooperation efforts, particularly on border issues with Bangladesh and Nepal.

Energy and Climate Change


19. (SBU) The Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement was a landmark in the bilateral relationship, both for its non-proliferation consequences as well as for our energy relationship. The Indian government is likely to announce two reactor park sites for U.S. companies. There are other remaining implementation issues we face; most immediately India needs to file a declaration of its nuclear facilities with the IAEA in order for U.S. companies to start moving forward. India is eager to increase engagement with the U.S. on research and development of technologies for clean, renewable energy, and on energy efficiency. Indian leaders do not believe, however, that these other energy forms will be able to replace existing capacities or substitute for large scale expansion of coal-fired thermal power. (Coal-fired thermal power accounts for 53 percent of India's total power generating capacity and over 66 percent of India's electricity production.) India has pledged to host an International Renewable Energy Conference in October 2010, building on the successful one held in Washington in 2008.

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20. (SBU) In spite of the synergies, our views on climate change differ. Indian officials reject any greenhouse gas emission monitoring or reduction commitments. They argue that primary responsibility for global warming lies with developed countries, and that it is entitled to an equal per capita share of the ""global carbon space,"" particularly in light of its need for economic development. (India's per capita electricity consumption and per capita carbon dioxide emissions are five to six percent of U.S. levels; 55 percent of the population has no access to electricity.) India's total electricity generated from coal is now a fifth that of China and a fourth of the U.S., so India is unlikely to be motivated by Chinese commitments to emissions reductions. Nevertheless, a high-level bilateral dialogue will give us the opportunity to find common ground since we share an overall concern for the impact on climate change.

Education and Development


21. (SBU) We wish to combine U.S. and Indian expertise and knowledge to foster new joint partnerships in education, development, and women's empowerment. The GOI is considering long-overdue reforms in its education system. The Education Dialogue would focus on the following areas: challenges of funding and scaling up large educational institutions, identifying funds to support programs for research and teaching, promotion of the study of the U.S. in India and vice versa, and enhancing improvements in basic education.

22. (SBU) Women's Empowerment: The Women's Empowerment Forum (WEF) will provide opportunities to share best practices and partner on relevant initiatives. The indicators regarding the status of women in India are startling: Female feticide, trafficking for commercial sex work, domestic violence (approximately 30% of married women), and dowry deaths (one death every 90 minutes) affect countless women throughout India. The new government has focused on women's empowerment initiatives, promising to pass the long-pending Women's Reservation Bill that sets aside one-third of elected seats in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament) and state legislatures for women. The government has also pledged to re-brand the ""National Literacy Mission"" as the ""National Mission for Female Literacy"" which would strive for 100 percent female literacy over the next five years; to boost the number of women working for the central government; and to establish the National Mission on the Empowerment of Women to coordinate the implementation of these initiatives. The WEF will draw on USAID's long experience in education, reproductive health, and legal access programs.

Economics, Trade, and Agriculture


23. (SBU) Under this pillar we hope to remove barriers to greater trade and investment between our countries and harness the power of our public and private sectors to help India achieve a sustainable agriculture sector and food security. Agriculture and rural development are inextricably linked with poverty reduction, but India's chief crop yields are still lower than other major nations. Trade and investment have long been an important source of private sector ties between our two countries and the growth is only accelerating, as India's economy matures and our respective companies discover each other. U.S. exports to India have tripled since 2004 and while U.S. investment to India continues to climb, Indian companies are increasingly finding strategic investments in the U.S., with $3 billion in 2008 alone. This has led to mutual support within the CEO Forum for a bilateral investment treaty. (Note: The GOI has accepted our proposed dates for negotiations to start in mid-August, which we look forward to your announcing during your visit. End Note.)

Your Meetings in Delhi


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24. (SBU) The senior leaders we have requested look forward to meeting with you: Prime Minister Singh, External Affairs Minister Krishna, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, and Leader of the Opposition LK Advani.


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