U.S. Consulate and CUTS International organise workshop on defense news in Chennai

The U.S. Consulate General Chennai, the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, and CUTS International organised a day-long workshop in Chennai today entitled “Defense News Conclave: Stories of U.S.-India Defense and Security Partnership” to highlight the strength of the bilateral defense and security partnership between the United States and India, and the growing U.S.-India strategic relationship in the Indo-Pacific region.

In the Welcome remarks, Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, began by highlighting the dynamic U.S.-India cooperation, where the two countries have evolved as the most valued partners in today’s geopolitical scenario.

He mentioned that owing to the converging security and strategic interests, embedded in the commitment to promoting a resilient, rules-based international order, a substantial bilateral progress has been witnessed through the ideation and execution of a “Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.”

With the backdrop of the 5th Annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue (November 2023), the countries have been focused on interoperability and maximization of shared benefits of agreements.

Mehta suggested that this development must be substantiated in the future with endeavors like the transition into a 3+3 dialogue encompassing trade, intrinsically linked to both foreign policy and defense policy.

In his keynote address, U.S. Consul General in Chennai Christopher Hodges said, “The United States and India share a convergence of interests and values and are enjoying a real moment in the bilateral relationship. It’s up to us to take advantage of that momentum and draw from the power and dynamism of our diverse populations to drive research and innovation across business, across education, across culture and across defense. We must bring all of our talent on both sides to the table to help drive this relationship forward.”

On these lines, the tone was set for the keynote address of S. Christopher, Former Chairman, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), mentioning the India-U.S.relationship was going through a dynamic transition.

He said that the relationship has been strengthened through a parallel progression of connecting people of both the nations, creating newer avenues and also partnership. In the present scenario, India is on its way to having the maximum number of youth population, looking forward to connect with the rest of the world, creating further opportunities. Power and partnership model is the new key to connectivity between the two countries.

Another aspect is the establishment of startups, with knowledge in IT and AI. Joint projects are encouraged with possibilities of academicians joining in the industries in the U.S. In addition, there is a costly process of engagement for entering the U.S.market, limiting the projects.

This must be addressed to have a more homogeneous connectivity. DRDO and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) can look at combining and producing joint equipments, which will not just be cost effective but technologically supreme.

While discussing the theme of the first session, “U.S.-India Industrial and Strategic Collaboration,” Wg Cdr P. Madhusoodanan (Retd.), Vice President, Aerospace and Defense, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, spoke about the co-production and co-development in aerospace and defense, not restricted to the military alone, but holding a much larger domain- aviation, space, and defense. This creates an opportunity beyond the boundaries. The manufacturing part holds the attention of the MSMEs. Lt. Gen Anil Ahuja (Retd.), Indian Co-Chair of the U.S.-India Defence Technology and Trade, pointed out that DTII had provided a cushion for adjusting the change between Obama and Trump regimes. Similarly, iCET will give a smooth transition between the Biden administration and its successors.In this regard, G. Balachandran, former Consultant, Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) mentioned that India’s technological presence is vital for its future.

Air Marshall M. Matheswaran (Retd.) Founder Chairman and President, The Peninsula Foundation, spoke about the need to intensify cooperation including the sectors of technology transfer.

The second session, on “Security Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region,” Harinder Sekhon, Former Intelligence and Strategic Analyst with the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India, mentioned that India is reiterating closer cooperations globally to address challenges in the Indian Ocean Region, especially in sectors of technology and security.

With this perspective, India’s role in the Quad has come to the forefront, as mentioned by V. Adm M.P. Muralidharan(Retd.), who substantially put forth the notion that the joint capabilities of the four countries of the Quad can send a deterrent message to any country which poses a security threat to this group.

This year’s upcoming Quad summit will inevitably be a chance for India to work with other countries with mutual interests in the region, to further stabilize its position and collaboratively check any challenges.

Nikhil K. Rao, Managing Director and Chief Engineer for the Boeing India Engineering, Tamil Nadu, mentioned that India is likely to become the largest economy by 2027 and the U.S., the second largest economy by then and this would define the dynamics of the period, drawing attention to partners like the Boeing, which would take a major lead.

As a valuable and reliable friend, such a company has access to holistic weapons from sea bed to outer space and can enhance further outreach of the Indian Navy, in areas of autonomous weapons.

Among other distinguished speakers at the “Defense News Conclave: Stories of U.S.-India Defense and Security Partnership” are Lt. General Anil Ahuja (Retd.), Indian Co-Chair of the U.S. India Defence Technology and Trade; T. Suvarna Raju, Former Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL); Vijay Sakhuja, Former Director, National Maritime Foundation; Snehesh Alex Philip,Senior Executive Editor, The Print; Cmde. S. Vasan (Retd.), Director General, Chennai Centre for China Studies and Regional Director, National Maritime Foundation, Tamil Nadu.