Kerry on U.S.

-India Relationship, India’s
28 July 2014
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, D.C.
July 28, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry
At the Center for American Progress’ India: 2020 Program
Center for American Progress
Washington, D.C.
SECRETARY KERRY: Neera, thank you very, very much. Thank you for confirming to me
your mother’s fealty. (Laughter.) I’m deeply appreciative for her support through the years and
I’m sorry we lost you when you were 18, but I’m glad you wound up here, as is everybody
else. We’re delighted that you’re here.
It’s a privilege for me to be back at the Center for American Progress, and I am very, very
apologetic for the delay. I know I’ve kept you all from your appointed rounds and I apologize
for that. It’s good to get the telephone unglued for a few minutes here. Obviously, we are still
working hard at trying to deal with the issue of the crisis in the Middle East. I spoke to it a little
earlier today, so I’m not going to repeat what I said, except to say to all of you that we want to
be able to find a way to get to a table to discuss the underlying issues which are real and
impactful on everybody and on the region. And we hope to be able to find the magic formula
by which the violence could cease for a long enough period of time to try to find that
sustainable ceasefire which could allow you to move on from there. The region has known
violence for far too long. Too many innocent people caught in the crossfire, too many lives
ruptured, and so it is imperative for all of us in positions of responsibility to do everything we
can to try to find a diplomatic way, a peaceful way forward if possible.
It is a privilege for me to be back here at the Center for American Progress. Ambassador
Sandhu, thank you for being here representing the Embassy, the DCM here, all of our ex-
ambassadors and ex-assistant secretaries of Defense and otherwise – greatly appreciative for
their supports and efforts to advance the very crucial relationship between the United States and
India. And at a time when so many people are – you know, back in history when they were
looking for a lot of simple slogans and silver bullets to cure an immediate problem, which was
pretty basic, that the Democratic Party was out of the White House and sidelined in the minority
in both the House and the Senate – that’s when a guy named John Podesta stood up and was
determined to get past the day-to-day ups and downs of the Washington echo chamber, and
helped to shape a principled and progressive policy agenda for governing.
John knew then what he practices now in the White House for President Obama: Good policy
is good politics. So – excuse me, let me get rid of my flight here – good policy really does make
good politics. I always found that and I’ve always tried to practice that. Under Neera Tanden’s
leadership for the last couple years, CAP has continued to prove that good ideas are still the
most important currency in our political debate. And that is a principle that has also guided
CAP’s work on foreign policy, especially in convening Track II, the first intensive climate
change dialogue between the United States and India.
India 2020 builds on that success by showing how the United States and India together can
tackle global challenges, from security in the Asia Pacific to providing clean energy to
delivering more inclusive growth. And Vikram Singh and Rich Verma are going to help lead us
together on that, bringing some of the best minds together in terms of policy and politics, and I
thank you very, very much for your contribution. Rich and Vikram, thank you for what you’re
undertaking. It is really a dialogue about what is in most people’s currency but not always yet
fully blossomed, one of the most important relationships internationally.
Now I just got back, as I think you all know, from a pretty intensive trip to Egypt, Israel, the
West Bank, and to Europe, working to try to find an end to the violence that has threatened our
ally Israel, and which has also cost hundreds of innocent lives in Gaza and elsewhere. The fact
is that we were able to produce at least the beginnings of a ceasefire process, a 12-hour
ceasefire, then confusion over 4 hours and 12 hours. But the bottom line is the concept of that, I
think, is still appreciated by all, and the key now is to find the road, not the question of what.
Now there are some in America who question America’s efforts actually not just in America.
There’s some people who ask this elsewhere. But particularly here, they question about our
efforts to bring peace to various conflicts around the world. I think they ought to ask: What’s
the alternative? Make no mistake, when the people of Israel are rushing to bomb shelters, when
innocent Israeli and Palestinian teenagers are abducted and murdered, when hundreds of
innocent civilians have lost their lives, I will and we will make no apologies for our
Ungoverned spaces threaten us all. Instability threatens us all. And upholding the rule of law
and humanitarian standards are not only national security imperatives; they are the right thing to
do. This is who we are and this is what we do. And frankly, I think it is what we do with
greater gusto, with greater grounding, if you will, in international rule of law and structure, than
almost – almost any other country.
But I want to be very clear about something, and that’s why I’m here today: Even as we focus
on crises and flashpoints that dominate the daily headlines and govern the cable talk shows and
so forth, even as that happens and they demand our leadership, we will always act with long-
term strategic imperatives foremost in our mind, and that’s why we’re here today. You can go
to any capital in the world and you can find different nuanced and self-assured perspectives
about American foreign policy. But if you were lucky enough to have the top hundred foreign
policy thinkers sit in a room together and you asked them to name the most important
relationships for which the United States, with that relationship, will most affect the direction of
the 21st century, I can guarantee you this: Every single one of them would rank the U.S.-India
relationship right up there in the top tier.
So I want to emphasize the key relationship for the United States – one of the key relationships
for the United States in that context is the deepening relationship with India, and particularly
trying to deepen our ties with India in terms of our strategic imperatives, both of us. It doesn’t
matter just to us or to India; it actually matters to the world. And that’s why, in my first months
as Secretary of State, I went to India. And it’s no coincidence that at the time, I – that in Prime
Minister Modi’s first 100 days in his government, I’m now returning to Delhi for two days of
Strategic Dialogue and discussion. And it was no accident that in the intervening time, we’ve
had many discussions and meetings and the prime minister – former Prime Minister Singh,
came here to the White House during that period of time.
But then, of course, they had an election. And as everybody knows, from certain number of
months during an election, things tend to be put on hold. Now is the time to renew that dialogue
with a new government, with a new set of opportunities, new possibilities. This is a potentially
transformative moment in our partnership with India, and we’re determined to deliver on the
strategic and historic opportunities that we can create together.
In a globalized world, we recognize that yes, India’s going to have many different partners.
That’s the nature of the world we’re in today. But we believe there are unique opportunities for
just United States and India, and that the dynamism and the entrepreneurial spirit of Mumbai
and Bangalore, of Silicon Valley and of Boston – that is precisely what is required in order to
solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.
President Obama is absolutely right to call this a defining partnership for the 21st century.
India’s new government has won an historic mandate to deliver change and reform. And
together, we have a singular opportunity to help India to be able to meet that challenge – to
boost two-way trade, to drive South Asia’s connectivity, to develop cleaner energy, to deepen
our security partnership in the Asia Pacific and beyond. The United States and India can and
should be indispensable partners for the 21st century, and that is, I assure you, the way we
approach the Modi government and the way we view this particular time. This week, Secretary
Pritzker and I will be emphasizing those opportunities as we meet leaders of India’s new
Now we face, as we all know – and Neera talked about it, and it is true – this is a particularly
challenging moment. Forces that were pent up for years in the Cold War tampened down by
dictatorship and absence of freedom to speak have suddenly been released everywhere, and
everywhere everybody is in touch with everybody all the time. It changes the face of politics
profoundly everywhere. People have more information, more ability to organize, more ability to
talk to each other. So we do face a host of critical challenges together and we face a world in
which more young people more rapidly are demanding more from their governments with too
many places where there’s too little response. And that is a challenge for all governance, none
more so than what we do to link our economies, India and the United States, in order to further
our shared prosperity agenda.
What we do to strengthen global security and a rules-based international system, how we turn
the challenges of climate change into an opportunity for greater cooperation and economic
growth – these are the big challenges. These are opportunities for us. Our countries have had a
decades-long relationship, and I can personally remember the lingering sense of suspicion and
distrust when I first went to India at the end of the Cold War. I traveled to Delhi, Mumbai,
Bangalore with executives from companies like Raytheon and Nextel, companies that are doing
booming business in India today. I remember talking to then-Finance Minister Singh about the
reforms that were needed and the opening up of the economy and the ability to be able to attract
capital and have rules that made sense to everybody that we all understood. I remember that
back then, and I felt then the possibility of the enormous potential of a closer, stronger
And now, it’s not hard to see how in this moment, we can actually deliver on that partnership’s
full promise. The new Indian Government’s plan, “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, together with
all, development for all – that’s a concept, a vision that we want to support. We believe it’s a
great vision, and our private sector is eager to be a catalyst in India’s economic revitalization.
American companies lead in exactly the key sectors where India wants to grow: in high-end
manufacturing, in infrastructure, in healthcare, information technology, all of them vital to sort
of leapfrogging stages of development so you can provide more faster to more people
India also wants to build a more competitive workforce, and already 100,000 Indians study
each year in American universities. But America’s community colleges actually set a
remarkable standard for 21st century skills training. We should be expanding our educational
ties across the board, increasing opportunities for young people in both of our nations. I know
Prime Minister Modi drew from that energy of India’s youth during his campaign. He
repeatedly pointed out that while India’s one of the world’s oldest civilizations, it has the
world’s youngest population. Prime Minister Modi has said that young people have a natural
instinct to rise like a flame. And he has spoken about India’s duty to nurture that instinct, and
we believe, frankly, that’s a duty for both of our nations.
And that means strengthening the exchange in technical education, in vocational programs for
high-skilled trades, and especially in areas where we can build on the entrepreneurial and
innovative spirit of both of our nations. And we all know about the extraordinary work ethic
that people in India have and the capacity to be able to do this and seize this opportunity. One of
the marked contrasts of this moment is this juxtaposition to parts of the world where young
people demanded a participation in this world they see around them, and rose up against
leadership that had stultified over the course of years, decades even – Tunisia, Egypt, Syria.
They all began without one flake of religious extremism involved in the revolutions that
brought change. It was all about young people gathering and forcing the notion that they
wanted something more to life. They wanted opportunity, education, respect, dignity, jobs, a
So this possibility I’ve just defined between India and the United States, which fits very neatly
into Prime Minister Modi’s vision that he expressed in a campaign which was ratified
overwhelmingly by the people of his country is exactly the vision that we need to embrace now,
and that’s why this opportunity is actually so ripe. This area of cooperation is particularly
exciting, I think, and I’m particularly confident about these opportunities, because only
countries that reward creativity the way the United States and India do could have possibly
launched Hollywood and Bollywood. (Laughter.) Only countries that celebrate the entrepreneur
the way we do could have launched Silicon Valley and Bangalore as global epicenters for
Innovation and entrepreneurship are in both of our DNA, and they not only make us natural
partners; they give us natural advantages in a world that demands adaptability and resilience.
The United States and India cannot afford to just sort of sit back and rest on these currently
existing advantages. We have to build on them and we have to build on them by investing more
in one another. Now unlike some other nations, the United States cannot direct a private
corporation to go invest in a particular country. President Obama can’t order businesses to
build factories in Kolkata or Chennai. It just doesn’t happen.
But we do know this from several hundred years of experience: If India’s government delivers
on its plans to support greater space for private initiative, if it creates greater openness for
capital flows, if it limits subsidies that stifle competition, if it provides strong intellectual
property rights, believe me, even more American companies will come to India. They may even
race to India. And with a clear and ambitious agenda, we can absolutely help create those
So as we work with our trading partners around the world to advance trade and investment
liberalization, India has a decision to make about where it fits in the global trading system.
India’s willingness to support a rules-based trading order and fulfill its obligations will help to
welcome greater investment from the United States and from elsewhere around the world. The
greater transparency and accountability that Prime Minister Modi put in place during his time as
chief minister tells us he has already provided a model of how raising standards can actually
increase economic growth.
Now I believe the United States and India should continue to reach for the ambitious target that
Vice President Biden laid out last summer in India, to push from 100 billion to 500 billion a
year in trade. And whatever impediments we may face along the way, we need to always be
mindful of the opportunities and the bigger picture around this. So it’s in our – excuse me. It is
completely in our mutual interest to address those obstacles that kind of raise their head here
and there as you go along the way and to remember that a lot bigger opportunities will come
from more robust ties, so we need to keep our eye on the prize out there and not get dragged
down by one small or lesser particular aspect of a restraint. The bigger picture has to guide us
and the end game has to guide us.
If you have any doubts, just look at the opportunities that Ford is creating right now in India.
They’re doubling production from plants in Gujarat and Chennai. They’re investing 1 billion to
make India a global hub for exports. Take a look at the jobs that TATA is creating for
Americans by expanding auto design and sales in the United States, adding to its 24,000
employees already in this country. Already, Indian investment creates close to 100,000 jobs
right here at home.
And we also convinced – we are convinced that just as the United States and India can do more
to create shared prosperity, so can India and its neighbors. Simply from the size of South
Asia’s market – 1.6 billion consumers – and from India’s geography, sitting at the center of this
dynamic Asian continent, the opportunities are leaping out at us. They’re just enormous. And
just to underscore how untapped this potential is, consider this: South Asia is the least
integrated economic region in the world. Fastest growing region in the world, Southeast Asia.
By strengthening trade links with Bangladesh, by building on the political opening in Burma,
by increasing trade with the Asia Pacific and Southeast Asia, India can be at the heart of a more
connected, prosperous region. So we are deeply committed to helping India grab ahold of these
That’s why the United States is supporting an Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor to connect
South Asia to Southeast Asia. That’s why we’re focused on investing in regional
infrastructures and in the creation of a regional energy market. And that’s why we’re
supporting new trade routes linking Central and South Asia with the New Silk Road Initiative.
I mean this is – the possibilities here are gigantic.
Now clearly, Prime Minister Modi understands the opportunities that regional connectivity
provides for India and for a more stable, prosperous region. And by inviting leaders from
around the region to his swearing-in, and by bringing them together to speak about connecting
their economies as one of his first orders of business, he is eager for India to play a leading
role. And guess what? So are we.
Nowhere is that leadership more critical than in improving cross-border trade and relations
between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi took the important first step of inviting
Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration. Both men are business-minded leaders who want to create
opportunity for their people. I talked to Nawaz Sharif after his visit there. He was very
encouraged, thought it was positive, possibilities he understood. So improved trade is a win-
win for both countries and both peoples. And I know that there are plans for the commerce
secretaries and foreign secretaries to meet in the coming weeks in order to build on that. I
commit to you that the United States will do everything we can to encourage India and Pakistan
to work together and improve the prospects for both prosperity and stability in the region.
Now India has already shown a deep commitment to regional stability with the generous
investments in Afghanistan. At this critical moment of transition and in the coming months,
support from all across the international community will be vitally important. In the coming
days, I will continue to work closely with President Karzai, with the candidates, with the
United Nations in order to provide Afghanistan with support during the transition. And we
look forward to working also with India on this, and we look forward to India engaging with
its neighbors so that Afghanistan’s connections to the region and the world are defined by the
opportunity that they can create together.
Far beyond Afghanistan, India is assuming greater responsibilities for regional and global
security. As India plays an increasingly global role, its interests are served by forging strong
partnerships on a broad range of issues. Among South Asian nations and within international
organizations, India should be a global leader. That’s why President Obama voiced his clear
support for a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.
For several years, India has been a major partner in the fight against piracy in the Strait of
Malacca and off the Horn of Africa. Even as we speak, India and the United States are
participating in RIMPAC and Malabar joint naval exercises. Secretary Hagel will explore
broadening our deepening – the deepening possibilities of our relationship with India when he
travels there in early August.
Counterterrorism is also a challenge to both of our nations. The United States and India are
continuing a very close partnership in that regard we began after the horrific Mumbai attacks,
and then we began to train first responders in order to help protect our citizens. And President
Obama was critical clear – crystal clear about the stakes for our counterterrorism partnership in
his West Point speech in May. And our two nations have already provided one model of how
these partnerships can work. Our collaboration on counterterrorism and real-time information
sharing has helped us confront common threats and bring terrorists to justice.
But there is obviously room for us to be able to do more. When terrorist attacks took 400
Indian lives in 2013 alone, we know that the threat of terrorism remains too real and far too
high for India’s people. Confronting terrorism requires our continued partnership and it
requires continued vigilance. And it also means leading with our values. India and the United
States are two nations that have worked hard to overcome our own divisions so that today we
draw strength from pluralism and diversity. We’ve got to provide that example as we work to
provide opportunity beyond our borders, addressing the conditions that allow extremists to
thrive in the first place.
I won’t tell you where, but I’ll tell you I was with a foreign minister of a country in Africa
recently, and we had dinner and we talked kind of candidly and openly as you can in that
situation. And he said to me – I asked him about their Muslim population and what was
happening. And he said, “Well, X percentage of our population is Muslim, and we’re very
worried, because the bad guys have a strategy. They grab these young minds when they’re 13,
14, 15, 16. They pay them originally, and then when they get the minds, they don’t pay them
anymore, they don’t have to. Then they send them out to recruit or conduct a mission. And they
subvert the state. They have a strategy. Do we?”
It’s a prime question for all of us, and in so many parts of the world where 60 percent of the
population is under the age of 30, 50 percent under the age of 21, 40 percent under the age of
18 and more in some places – if these people don’t find jobs and they don’t get an education
and they don’t have opportunity and dignity and respect and a voice, then you know who’s
going to grab them and say, out of frustration, “There’s a better way.” That’s part of our
challenge and responsibility as great global powers, and that’s part of how we tame the most
dangerous impulses of a more interconnected world.
One challenge that drives home just how interconnected and interdependent we are on this
planet is this challenge of a lifetime called climate change. For millions of Indians, extreme
weather and resource shortages are not future threats; they are here now. They’re endangering
their health and prosperity and security every single day.
In India’s largest rice-producing region, West Bengal, the Monsoon rains have been 50 percent
lower than average this year. This comes after the monsoons all but failed last year in several
Indian states, helping to cause one of the worst droughts in a generation, affecting 120 million
In parts of northern India, armed bandits have imposed what amounts to a water tax,
demanding 35 buckets a day. So believe me, it is not hard to measure the ways in which climate
change every single day is already a catalyst for instability. I can show you places in the world
where tribes fight over a well and people are dying because of the absence of water.
And while parts of India suffer from a once-in-a-generation drought, others suffer from –
guess what – historic rains. When I arrived in India last summer, Uttarakhand was grappling
with historic floods that killed more than 5,000 people.
So climate volatility is clearly taking a toll on India’s population. And so is pollution. Of the 10
cities in the world with the worst air quality, six are in India. Each year in India, the effects of
air pollution cause nearly 1.5 million deaths.
So we know what the down sides are, but happily, guess what, we also know what the
solutions are. And forging these solutions is a huge economic opportunity for both of us. The
solution comes from areas where we already do things very well, where we’ve already made
great progress, where innovation, smarter energy policy, and clean energy technology are
already defining the future.
Let me just share with everybody – I reinforce this again and again whenever I get a chance.
The solution to climate change is energy policy. It’s not some magical, unreachable,
untouchable thing out there. It’s not pie in the sky. It’s energy policy. And where we put good
energy policy in place, we reduce emissions and we begin to contribute to the solution. It’s a
huge market, my friends.
I also remind people that the market that created the great wealth of the United States of
America during the 1990s, which made Americans individually and otherwise richer than
they’d ever been in American history – at the top end it made people richer than they did in the
1920s when we didn’t have an income tax, and every single quintile of American income
earners saw their income go up in the 1990s. You know what that was? A $1 trillion market
with one billion users. It was the high-tech computer, personal computer, et cetera market.
Today’s energy market is a – today’s energy market is a $6 trillion market now, with four to
five billion users, growing to nine billion users over the course of the next 30 years, by 2050.
Just think about that. It’s an opportunity for huge numbers of jobs, for transformation in the
provision of our power, transformation in health, get rid – lowering the pollution, moving into
the new energy sources, providing safety and security in energy so we don’t have instability.
And I could run on in the possibilities, not the least of which our global responsibility to stand
up for and leave a cleaner, better, more sustainable Earth to our children and our grandchildren.
It’s a way of living up to our responsibility as stewards of the planet, which, by the way, is
directed to us in every major scripture of every major religion.
Now, both of our nations pride ourselves on science and innovation. So the bottom line is this
is up to us. It’s up to us to deliver. I know Prime Minister Modi understands the urgency. He’s
called for a Saffron Revolution, because “the saffron color represents energy.” And he said that
“this revolution should focus on renewable energy sources such as solar energy, to meet
India’s growing energy demand.” He is absolutely right, and together I believe that we can at
last begin a new constructive chapter in the United States-India climate change relationship.
The United States has an immediate ability to make a difference here, and we need to eliminate
the barriers that keep the best technology out of the Indian market. And the United States can
help India find and develop new sources of energy through renewable technologies and greater
export capacity for liquefied natural gas.
Already, we’ve brought together more than 1 billion in financing for renewable energy projects.
And with this funding, we helped to bring India’s first 1,000 megawatts of solar power online.
But we need to build on the U.S. India Civil Nuclear Agreement, so that American companies
can start building and can start providing clean power to millions in India. And we need to
build on the $125 million investment that we’ve made in a Joint Clean Energy Research and
Development Center.
Prime Minister Modi has also made a commitment to electrify every home in India by 2019.
With fewer limits on foreign technology and investment in India’s green energy sector, we can
help make clean power more cost-effective and more accessible at the same time. We can
provide 400 million Indians with power without creating emissions that dirty the air and
endanger public health. And by working together to help an entire generation of Indians
leapfrog over fossil fuels, we can actually set an example to the world.
So I readily acknowledge that today’s climate challenges did not start with India. And we know
that the United States is the second-largest emitter of carbon in the world – the first now being
China, who have overtaken us. But we also know that we can’t solve these problems alone –
no one. They require partnership. And our partnership requires our leadership. By acting right
now to reduce emissions, just as President Obama has done here in the United States, by
investing in innovation, and by working together in the UN climate negotiations, we could
prevent the most devastating consequences of climate change and meet this generational
Lastly, in this century, one that will continue to be defined by competing models of
government, India and the United States have a common responsibility – we already have it; we
share it – to prove that democracies can deliver for their citizens. Our two nations believe that
when every citizen, no matter their background, no matter their beliefs, can make their full
contribution. That is when we are strongest and that’s when we’re most secure.
So we are two confident nations, connected by core values, optimistic nations, never losing
sight of how much more we can and must achieve. From women’s rights to minority rights,
there is room to go further with our work together. And we also have to speak with a common
voice against the violence against women in any shape or form that is a violation against our
deepest values.
The United States and India are two nations that began both of their founding documents with
exactly the same three words: “We the people.” By deepening our partnership, we can work
together to deliver opportunity to all of our people and become stronger nations.
President Roosevelt, of course, described America as having a “rendezvous with destiny.”
India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru spoke about India’s “tryst with destiny.” This
can be a moment where our destinies actually do converge. And if we harness our capacity of
our two nations, if we deepen our partnership, if we make smart choices, if we seize these
opportunities, the United States and India can create a more prosperous and secure future for
the world and for one another.
That is why I leave for Delhi tomorrow night, and that is why the President will welcome
Prime Minister Modi to Washington in September. Because this is the moment to transform our
strategic relationship into an historic partnership that honors our place as great powers and great
democracies. We intend to leave not an instant behind us. We are going to get to work now.
Thank you. (Applause.)

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