There is no ambiguity. The Narendra Modi government has conceded ground to the USA administration and agreed to enter into the logistics support pact. In fact the Indian Defence
Minister Manohar Parrikar announced that the pact, known as the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) will be concluded "in the coming months". India and the US are working on a key agreement that will give either country access to logistics support from the other besides refuelling and berthing facilities.
But pending signing of the final pact, the Modi government allowed the US military to use the Indian bases. The US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told during his visit in New Delhi that progress has been made towards sealing a deal that could see American soldiers on Indian bases under specific circumstances. What is most significant is India has diluted its earlier stand on the LSA. Intriguingly, the government is quite ebullient of the new pact as it addresses India's earlier concerns about losing its traditional autonomy and being perceived as having entered a military alliance with the US.
Surprisingly the task to make the decision public that India and the United States have agreed in principle to share military logistics was left to Ashton. He said in presence of Parrikkar that Washington and New Delhi have largely agreed to the terms of a new agreement that allows the two militaries to use each other's land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repair and rest.
As a reciprocal gesture to India for advancing a new defence relationship and agreeing to counterweight the growing power of China in the South and South East Asia, the USA has agreed to improve its defence ties and fulfill the Indian military needs. The modalities of the agreement which was prepared at least a year back under the watchful eyes of Goan satrap, the defence minister Manohar Parrikar a close confidant of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, was simply ratified in talks with US Defence Secretary.
Initially the Indian ruling dispensation was wary of drawing too near to USA, but during the last visit of Modi to America this was given a decent burial. India is no more hesitant to have military entente with the USA. Signing of three foundational defence agreements that would streamline military interactions has been cleared by the Prime Minister. The "foundational agreements" pacts are – Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
This is not the only pact the government of India is going to have with the USA. The USA is working on a shorter version of NATO for southeast Asia. According to the indications dropped by Ashton in Washington before leaving for India, America would like India to make a fundamental shift away from its strategic autonomy and its aversion to military blocs. For Carter the US-Indian defence cooperation under the "Make in India", the "burgeoning" military exercises and other activities provide a crucial space for the US's alliance system in Asia. The US looks at the proposed alliance system "network" as an "Asian NATO" to contain China (and Russia).
To attain the goal, the US administration set up a special cell under Ashton within the Pentagon last year to promote cooperation with India. Last month, Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of US Pacific Command, said that the US wanted to expand the naval exercises it held with India each year into joint operations across the Asia-Pacific.
The negotiations focused on the transfer of technology for new generation aircraft carriers to be built in India. The US is also hoping to sell its F-16 or F-18 fighter jets to India as part of a major co-production deal involving more than 100 planes which would be manufactured in India in collaboration with an Indian partner company. Parrikar also announced a new maritime security dialogue and an upgradation of dialogue between the two navies to cover "submarine related issues".
In his remarks, Carter said India and the US had agreed to two new projects under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI). For the success of its mission, the USA is also agreeable to invest in the Make in India project of Modi. Ashton tied the promise of manufacturing and technological cooperation to Modi's "Make in India" campaign to expand the nation's industrial and defense base" and added that it will lead to greater co-production and co-development of defense capabilities.
Carter sketched a panoramic view of the burgeoning relationship between the two democracies in strategic, technological and multilateral areas which he called a "strategic handshake". According to him this "handshake" was reflected in Modi's and Barack Obama's Joint Strategic Vision Statement and in the 2015 framework for the US-India defence relationship that he and Parrikar signed last year in Delhi. Without any dithering and hesitation he asserted "The defense framework is foundational, and it's going to guide the US-India defense relationship for the next decade".
In a subtle manner he made it clear that signing of the foundational defence agreement was no more a contentious issue. Besides making India to check China in the region, the Obama administration intends to break India’s strategic partnership with Russia and to continue to interfere in Indian-Iranian relations. It is not that Modi government is not aware of the American designs. Even then it has allowed them to dictate terms. Surprisingly the US lobby is quite proactive in preparing a general public opinion to accept the pact on the plea that it is in the interest of the country.
The government even at this stage tries to create an atmosphere that the country’s interest is safe and the foundational pact is not against the basic tenets of India. Attempts are being made to give the impression that Ashton was on the mission to help India in the production of fighter aircrafts. True enough only a naïve would subscribe to this. To say that Ash is on the mission to India for production of fighter aircraft is a too simplistic evaluation of this high profile visit. It ought to be borne that this is second visit to India in a year It would be simply naïve to believe that for producing aircraft he would waste his precious time camping in Goa From the US perspective, the growing "interoperability" involving the two militaries serves the purpose of anchoring India as a key non-NATO ally, which of
course demands a fundamental shift by India away from its non-aligned policies and its aversion to military blocs.
Ashton in fact outlined in his speech the US blueprint for creating a new alliance system in Asia that can tackle the challenges posed by the rise of China.
Washington has an important role in it for India. He intends to pitch India against China. In view of the past relations and strains with China, the question obviously arises will it be a prudent move?