India and the US are now natural allies and New Delhi sees Washington as an important partner in its journey of inclusive social and economic development, a top Indian diplomat has said.

“Today, India and the US are true partners — in strategic terms, in economic terms, and in the development context,” Indian Ambassador to the US, Ms Nirupama Rao, said in her address to the Emory University on India-US Strategic Relations.

“As India continues on its path of inclusive social and economic development, mobilising the immense creativity and energy of its people, we see the US as an important partner in this journey,” she said.

Ms Rao said the third India-US strategic dialogue would be held in Washington in the next few months.

Noting that the US has led the world when it comes to innovation, Ms Rao said both the governments realise the critical importance of innovation to address new challenges and generate economic growth.

“As both India and the US work towards becoming truly knowledge societies, they are also working together to translate these immense opportunities into practical cooperation: forging new links, creating ecosystems together to foster creativity — that would lead to solutions for the problems that we face both immediate and in the long-term. Let me enumerate some of these,” she said.

Ms Rao said energy security and the supply of clean and sustainable sources of energy are a common challenge for both countries.

“In order to continue on our high growth path, India will need to invest in building a world-class infrastructure that could cater to the demands of a billion-plus population and ensure the availability of abundant supplies of clean sources of energy to fuel such growth. In both these areas, we are working to build mutually beneficial ties,” she said.

India in the next five years will mobilise up to $100 million in public and private sector funds to facilitate research and development in breakthrough technologies.

Several proposals have been received by the Centre, and the first awards are likely to be announced within this month.

The two governments, Ms Rao said, thus engaged intensively to increase collaboration and unleash the full potential of US-India innovation.

“With a strong foundation in place, the two nations are uniquely positioned to pool their talent to address what President Obama’s innovation strategy called the Grand Challenges of the 21st Century,” she said.

“In this context, it would be beneficial if we could also work on a framework that would help increase the mobility of highly skilled workers across the two countries. In these difficult economic times, sometimes we do hear the voices of protectionism,” she said.

“We all have stakes in ensuring that such sentiments do not affect the positive trajectory of our engagement, keeping the long-term perspective in mind. What we need to promote is a dynamic network of partnerships and underpin them through bilateral investments as well as through technology cooperation,” Ms Rao said.

(This article was published on March 8, 2012)
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