India-US Ties in the Post-Pandemic Era


By Anirudh Ramakrishna Phadke

The following piece is a long-read. It is graded 7.5/10

India and the United States of America being the two big powers in the Indo-Pacific region also shares values of democracy at the fundamental level. Diplomatic relations between the two countries are the same as relations between two individuals. It is very complex with its success and failures. The same is applies to India and the United States of America. Both these nations established their first diplomatic relationship right in the year 1949 during the regime of Nehru-Truman. But the wind’s direction changed in the year 1954 when the United States signed a treaty with Pakistan and India laying the foundation for NAM (Non-Alignment Movement).

Later Nixon administration supports Pakistan in the Indo-Pak war of 1971 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Once again from the year 1990, India in its foreign policy adopted to the unipolar world and developed closer ties with the United States. The ties deepened during the Bush-Obama administrations where the United States demonstrated exemplary accommodation to India’s core national interests and acknowledged outstanding concerns.

Fast-forwarding to the current scenario, both the nations find themselves increasingly converging on the key geopolitical issues like counterterrorism, the free and open Indo-Pacific rules-based order, and the need for transparent and sustainable infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. In other words, under president Trump’s administration, both the nations have upgraded representation of speed and advancement on the path to a closer India-US diplomatic relationship. Trump’s official visit to India in early February this year proved to be the real cause of touching new heights in recent times.

However, in recent times amidst the global pandemic called COVID-19, that erupted in China late last year has proven to be a gamer changer, serving itself as a rich catalyst in India-US strategic partnership bringing the two biggest democratic powers of the world closer than ever. Both nations have been inter-dependent and supported each other to the core in every geopolitical aspect during these recent times amidst the pandemic.

No one can predict the future but instead one can connect the dots of the past happenings and perhaps come to a fluid conclusion of how the course of the future might occur. The same applies to this piece also. As the title goes “India-US ties in the Post-Pandemic Era”, this paper analyses some of the important key aspects of the India-US (Modi-Trump) partnership that occurred during the pandemic time and tracking its path  into the upcoming years, concerning COVID-19, China, Military, Trade and Commerce, Energy, Space, and finally followed by a predicted analysis of newly elected president of the United States, that is, Biden’s foreign policy towards India as this will determine whether the ties built up through these years will continue in the post pandemic era or instead break away.



This global pandemic became a spark to reignite the diplomatic relations between both nations once again. India is well known as the pharmacy of the world, supplied medicine nearly to 150 countries, including the United States. Doctors and Healthcare from the Indian diaspora in the US have been and still at the forefront against this pandemic. Six Indian healthcare companies have joined hands with Gilead Sciences (an American biopharmaceutical company) to lead the COVID-19 vaccine research and bulk produce other essential vaccines demanded in the present situation. The VAP or the Indo-US Vaccine Action Program has been the forerunner which is a 33-year collaboration between the U.S National Institute of Health and the Indian Council of Medical Research. They have funded a total of $900 Million for vaccine research and delivered more than 250+ ventilators during the early pandemic times.

Image Credit: The National

Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandu has quoted that the pandemic has created a new normal and early lockdown of the whole country has effectively curbed the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions have now lifted in almost every part of the country except for the containment zones. The same scenario is reciprocated in the US. Apart from doctors and healthcare being battling the COVID-19 at the forefront, Ambassador Sandu, also held a virtual meeting with the Sikh American community and other professional groups to enhance funding for the affected.

Moreover, the 2+2 global cooperation dialogue which was held before the US presidential elections gave some inputs about the joint role of India and the US combating the pandemic. One out of four major themes that were discussed revolved around eradicating the Wuhan virus in the guise of public health collaboration. A senior administration official during a conference call organized by the Foreign Press Center has quoted that COVID-19 vaccine research is boosted at a remarkable pace.

After slight diplomatic turbulence, India lifted the ban on hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug which went viral after trump called it to be the cure for the pandemic. Following days from lifting the ban of it, trump’s administration bought a sizable chunk of 29 million doses followed by another 21 million doses in another few months. A report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proven that the drug has shown positive results in the initial stage from over 1500 affected corona patients. Former President Trump said in a call with Sean Hannity of Fox News, that “Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi when asked to release the drug he did so. He is great… he was really good.” 

Nevertheless, both the nations being the topmost affected by the global pandemic, they never failed to support each other in most wanted hours.


Image Credit: India Inc Group

In recent times the India-U.S.-China triangle revolves much beyond vaccines, ventilators, drugs, and commerce. The pandemic is once again nature’s remainder to neutralize the threat posed by China not only to India and the U.S. but to the whole world. Though the Covid is a catalyst in fostering India-US friendly relations, it is still only a subset, While the major problems are hiding behind the curtains. The bitter truth, both the nations have to accept is that in recent decades China has proved its supremacy in all the geopolitical aspects, thus crushing the national interests of other countries including those of the U.S. and India. Irrespective of many countries accusing China of spreading COVID-19 in an attempt to flag biological warfare, the communist country turns all these accusations to its advantage, thus becoming the big brother of the world.

From the early start of this century, India and the US are leading contours of the Global Anti-China Alliance. Although showing strong measures against China-US never took massive offense until recently. The only mid-act of antagonism towards the communist friend was imposing restrictions on investment from Chinese firms into India in a bid to thwart a hostile takeover of Indian companies. Meanwhile, India hardened its stance by joining the other 62 countries in backing a draft to probe the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many US companies pledged to exit China during the peak time of the pandemic as they incurred heavy losses. It is proven that India will be the next global hub of manufacturing goods thus replacing China. It is a golden opportunity for both India and the US to tackle China in terms of Economy.

During the post-pandemic times, cross-border tensions increased between India and China in the region of Eastern Ladakh, especially in the Galwan Valley. A series of close quarter combat took place between June till August this year between the Indian and Chinese armies. Notable powers of the world including the U.S. raged over the cross-border tensions that occurred, thus backing up India against Chinese hunger for land. US diplomat Alice Wells quoted “Unlike in the past when the US had stayed clear treating this as a regional dispute this time it has indicated it will not be a mute spectator”. The 2+2 dialogue’s other theme quoted about neutralizing the Chinese threat.

A senior US administration official has mentioned “Given China’s increasingly aggressive behavior across the Indo-Pacific from the Himalayas to the South China Sea, it’s more important than ever that we work with like-minded partners such as India”, adding that the US is also looking forward with India during its upcoming term to UN security council to address these challenges and other pressing issues.

Defence, Military & Space

Image Credit: Outlook India

US administration has said that defence relationship with India right now is currently at its best memory. However, many South Asian analysts have quoted that defence and related field ties could face turbulence in the post-COVID-19 world. On a collectively note the world’s present defence purchases are in turmoil. Since the U.S. being one of the largest producers of arms and India being a buyer of arms, the probability of defence collaboration is at stake. Upon current situation analysis, India’s aircraft purchases from the U.S. are under a dark cloud with the aviation industry suffering a huge setback due to worldwide lockdown.


There is also lack a lack of certainty about the defence deals amidst the current economic dip”, pointed out Suresh Prabhu, a senior BJP leader and India’s Sherpa to G20. Although many analyses skyrocketed in favour of this prediction, skeptics right now would never think that the US-India defence deals would touch $21 billion. Officials from trump’s administration have quoted that the progress made by both the countries from the year 2016 to now is remarkable. Back-to-Back visit from both the nation’s leaders were among the symbolic highlights. During this year’s 2+2 dialogue both the nations discussed securing Indo-Pacific maritime borders. This year India invited Australia to join along with U.S. and Japan, thus reviving the QUAD once again back into action. The four biggest democracies of the world jointly conducted Phase -1 of Malabar Naval Exercises on the Malabar coast early this month while the other phase is scheduled at the end of this month.

The joining of QUAD once again in action signifies not only a military exercise invitation but also a strategic convergence between the Quadrilateral partners strengthening the Indo-Pacific region and preparing for neutralizing any threat posed by China in the upcoming decade.

Concerning Military to Military engagement, India and the US are working to build greater interoperability by increasing the sophistication of combined military exercises. Information sharing is a key component and vital in defence cooperation. Thus, both nations have made significant progress towards vital information sharing between the militaries called the BECA or the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement. This will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between Indians and the US armed forces. The objectives of the BECA is seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between the respective militaries as well as between the foreign and defence ministries.

Over the past year, U.S. has placed a Liaison officer at the information fusion center in the Indian Ocean region while the same has been reciprocated by India through placing an officer at the US central command, to smooth the flow of information between the two nation’s naval forces.

As of now, there are no developments in defence aspects with linking to space between the nations. It has been reported that future defence-space cooperation policy may arise. As of now and during the post-Covid decade India will focus on civilian aspects of space by joining hands with NASA. Its cooperation with ISRO’s mars mission played vital and robust cooperation to succeed in the mission. The ties will continue to cherish in future space expeditions. Significant opportunities and gateways are opening for the space-related public sectors once the Indian ISRO’s space policy is refurbished.

Trade and Economy

Image Credit: Finshots

  The US-India relations sustain through bipartisan support in the US and Cross-party support in India. Much beyond the governments, it goes into business, trade, and people’s contact, etc. Amidst the pandemic, bilateral trade between both the nations crossed $150 billion, and the US investing $46 billion which includes major fortune 500 companies present in India. Likewise, more than 200 Indian companies present across all over the US’ states created more than 2 lakh jobs in all aspects of life.

The current trends in South Asian analysts has shown down trends towards investments in clean energy, oil, and gas including other natural resources. There is a sharp dip in global oil prices which would lead to potential turbulence in the energy sector.

However, there is a notable uptrend towards the machine-based and textile industries. Reports from the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) show Indian based IT industries are contributed significantly to the US economy. “Technical textile is another area where there is huge scope for joint ventures” quoted the research analysts from IACC. They have signed MoU with the states of North and South Carolina for taking Indian investors to the US for collaboration in the textiles sector. The American textile sector and strength lies in functional, high-end textiles driven by superior technology and innovations while India has a competitive advantage from fiber to fabric, so collaborations would work well.


Putting in a nutshell this pandemic has caused both the democratic nation’s economy to fall and worsen, but acting interdependently in this situation is vital and India also wants to see more US companies investing in India to deepen economic relations. In other words, India has opened its gateways to swallow more Foreign Direct Investments expecting it from the US.

India & Biden- Post Trump Ties

Image Credit: IPA Newspack

Trump is known for his maverick persona and blunt outbursts, but the consistent camaraderie he shares with India’s Prime Minister Honourable Shri. Narendra Modi is remarkable. Modi’s recent investment in QUAD and 2+2 talks with President Trump before the 2020 presidential election made an immense impression on New Delhi to expect Trump to win. While world leaders welcomed the newly elected president Biden, will the India-US ties cherish in the post-pandemic decade as it was before?

The answer is debatable as well as predictable to some extent. Biden as soon as claiming victory over the white house switched his focus to fix the loopholes of Trump’s administration regarding COVID-19 safeguard policy, rather than America’s foreign policy. It is evident from his initial victorious activities that Biden is for sure to make a move to reverse the Trump-era policies. For India that could include the US’s return to Paris climate accord which would loosen the tied-up knot between India-US-Iran in recent years.

A policy paper released from his June campaign this year shows that he was disappointed with China’s issue of human rights, Jammu & Kashmir, and the citizenship amendment act. It is for sure that he will press hard nerves and India must be prepared for holding tough conversations in the future. Analyzing this, it is evident that the forthcoming India-US relations may go in stable turbulence.

A Final Key Note: Apart from all the mentioned dimensions, whether it’s Trump or Biden along with Modi, both the nation’s sight has turned towards securing their national interest towards the Indo-Pacific region against China. The communist big brother has already declined to show kind gesture when Biden was elected as the new president, which is evident in strong forthcoming diplomatic battles. Nevertheless, India and the United States must be glued to each other in the post-pandemic world to survive the security challenges. 

About the Author

Anirudh Phadke is the founder & Chief Editor of The Viyug.

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Published by The Viyug

Th Viyug (A Strategic & Defence Research Publication) is an digital and print media publication producing cutting edge analytical research papers, opinions, rebuttals and other forms of writings on various disciplines of international affairs.

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