Science has become a vital mechanism for states in the 21st century globalised world to progress and prosper beyond intrinsic capabilities.
International relations are now defined in the light of ‘science diplomacy’ to build cogent arguments in diversified dialogues of political, military and economic relationships.
Science is non-partisan in nature and diplomacy is a non-violent elegant approach in bridging global relationships.
The British Royal Society along with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) identifies 3 parameters of ‘science diplomacy’: 1. Diplomacy for Science, 2. Science in Diplomacy and 3. Science for diplomacy.
The Indo-American relationship could be taken further best by the process of ‘Science Diplomacy’. Policy formulation should be done by the two countries keeping in mind the scientific culture that is inherent in both the democracies since their inception as self dependent states.
In historical context US helped India build Asia’s first atomic power station at Tarapur, the NASA-Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Satellite Instructional Television Experiment, and the establishment of the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur. But cooperation showed signs of dropping off from its peak of the 1980s when over two hundred scientific projects were launched.
By the 1990s conflict over intellectual property rights (IPR) and India’s nuclear weapons tests hindered government-backed U.S.-India scientific cooperation severely.
The situation improved in the year 2000 when the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) was established as a governmental agreement to be promoted as nonprofit organization fostering cooperation in science, engineering, and health between the two countries.
In 2012 two bills aiming to increase the coordination and support for US science diplomacy in developing countries could not be passed in the House of Representatives. Such moves should be restrained and a congenial environment should be endeavored by the US foreign policy makers.
India needs major infrastructural establishments in the areas of energy, defence, environment and industrial growth in order to develop as a major economic power. National security is now perceived in terms of Comprehensive National Power (CNP) index that can’t be achieved without a self-reliant mechanism in science and technology.
Therefore incorporating science in diplomatic missions envisages essential and much more profitable relationship. United States is the most vibrant destination for higher studies for Indian students particularly in science; more because Indians are fluent in English as second language.
Many Indian scientists got recognition while working in the US. In the words of Dr Henry Kissinger, “What we can contribute and what the world wants is our technological capabilities.”
By supporting Indian institutions in science and technology US could bring India much closer as a ‘natural ally’ in South-Asian region as mentioned in the US National Security Strategy 2015.
As a member of the IAEA, ICTP, Third World Academy of Sciences, Global Research Council, IPCC, International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor (ITER) and CERN India has a reputation in the international scientific community.
Technology is linked to both economic and military power. India has made significant stride in some areas of technology (e.g. space, IT, atomic energy etc.) while lagging in other sectors. Moreover India’s record in maintaining scientific achievements to solve domestic problems is lesser impressive.
US can help India by guiding at institutional levels and create programs that provide robust and long term support that includes identifying thrust areas such as biotechnology, energy engineering, smart cities, and state-of-the-art defence co-operation.