India, US need to think ‘bigger’ than trade: Jaishankar

Raising the bar for India-US ties, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar underlined the imperative for India and the United States to strive for something “bigger” beyond trade and partner proactively to shape the global agenda.

In his remarks at the annual summit of the US-India business Council (USIBC, a trade body), Mr Jaishankar said that the US and India were working on a host of geo-political issues like “maritime security, counter terrorism, connectivity, how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, even the knowledge economy.”

“A large part of it is how do we, while shaping our bilateral agenda, shape a larger (global) agenda,” he said.

Building Innovation Bridge

On the contentious issue of trade amid signals that India and the US are close to forging a limited trade deal, Mr Jaishankar said while this was important, “we need to think bigger.” “Beyond trade, there is a much bigger connect between our two countries which is a knowledge innovation connect…” he said. “If you look at where the world is going, I think beyond an exchange of goods and creating a better investment climates for each other, this ability to work together in the world of innovation and technology, I think that is really what will set our relationship apart,” he said. “It is vital we have a very strong convergence on the big picture…In all this, values do matter. When you work on knowledge, innovation and technology, trust and confidence are very important factors,” Mr Jaishankar added.

Mr Jaishankar, who also served as India’s Ambassador to US, underscored the contribution of the 4 million Indian- American community, saying it had “created a bonding between two societies.”

“It’s a bonding that is very much centred around talent, talent that is central to our economy, innovation, technology and to our relationship,” he said.

“If we are looking at a globalised knowledge economy world, some of the key answers the principles on which we should be building this relationship is really to build on trusted talent and resilient supply chains in which we participate.”

Going Beyond Alliances

Mr Jaishankar also exhorted the U.S. to learn to work with a more multipolar world and “go beyond” alliances. “I think the U.S. really has to learn to work … with a more multipolar world, with more plurilateral arrangements, go beyond alliances with which really it has grown up over the last two generations,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

“I am now specifically referring to India, given our history of independence and the fact that we really are coming [from] different places. There will be issues on which our convergence would be more, somewhere it would be less. I think the quest in the last 20 years, and I see that continuing into the future, is really to find more common ground.”

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Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.