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Jobs, infra, defence key to strong Indo-US ties, says citizens' task force

Former US Ambassador to India has suggested increased bilateral investments in job creation as one of the key areas of cooperation that can transform India-US relationship in the decades to come.

twitter-logo Joe C Mathew   New Delhi     Last Updated: January 19, 2018  | 17:29 IST
Jobs, infra, defence key to strong Indo-US ties, says citizens' task force

A task force co-chaired by Nirupama Rao, former foreign secretary of India and Richard R. Verma, former US Ambassador to India has suggested increased bilateral investments in job creation as one of the key areas of cooperation that can transform India-US relationship in the decades to come.

Investments in infrastructure development, clean energy solutions, security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and sustained efforts to strengthen democratic institutions were among the wide ranging recommendations given by the 20 member task force, constituted by US based think tank - The Center for American Progress. The members were drawn from both the countries.

The task force calls for the initiation of a "future of work" dialogue between the two countries to refine policy solutions that leverage the changing nature of work to create stable, well paying jobs and empower citizens. The need for sub-national cooperation between federal governments and major cities and states in both countries was emphasized. The importance of blue economics and bringing in investments in infrastructure were identified as important tools for economic development.

"The United States and India must look not just at areas like high-tech, but also at infrastructure, to expand the benefits of investment and trade to all sectors of societies. The two nations cannot divorce the future of the bilateral economic relationship from what each country does at home. Both India and the United States must invest in the building blocks of their own economies and middle classes-including health care and education-and continue to innovate new domestic policy solutions if they are to benefit from the bilateral economic relationship", the report said.

On clean energy, the task force wanted India and US to adopt a bottom up approach by cooperating on technical assistance, innovation, and capital investment in the building blocks of energy access, such as grid modernization, energy efficiency, and renewable technologies. Enhancing cooperation on grid planning through regulatory cooperation and inter-governmental talks, energy efficiency by bringing together government and private sector experts to boost the capacity of India's Energy Efficiency Services Limited, facilitating investments in clean energy through investment forums, de-risking investments by developing risk-offsetting mechanisms and standardized power purchase agreements were all suggested.

Expansion of the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centers (JCERDC), and cooperation in the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and the continuance of technical assistance on climate modeling to Indian agencies were also part of the suggested clean energy action plan.

Citing the possibility of increased challenges to the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, the group wanted the United States and India to make long-term commitments. "The United States should build on the designation of India as a Major Defense Partner to craft a Strategic Advantage Initiative in which the United States adopts a presumption of support for defense cooperation with India and specific policies to make good on this support; and India must take steps to make that level of defense cooperation possible, while sharing the burden on security issues, such as maritime security in the Indian Ocean, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief", the report stated.

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