need to be active in mutual cooperation.
What are your expectations in terms of tangible deliverables?
Are you disappointed that the nuclear deal —
the debate on the legislation that you directed
on behalf of the Republicans — signed over six years ago is
still to be implemented because India has made it clear it
will not compromise on the Nuclear Liability Law that was
passed in the Parliament? This has left US business, the
Indian-American community and the US Congress — that
all worked so hard in a concerted manner to get the legislation approved and the deal signed — hanging.
India has signed the convention and is yet to implement
it — the convention’s provisions — especially with regard
to the focus on the operator’s liability, and that’s where
the liability should lie.
But I am hopeful that over time we can resolve the conflict of interpretation and this is just going to take hard
work between the two governments.
But it has been six years now. And as you very well
know, US business is highly peeved because they put in a
lot of work to push through the deal hiring lobbying firms
and so on, and now feel betrayed because India is signing
deals with Japan and a whole host of other countries. But
it was really the US, people in the Congress and the
Indian-American community and the likes of the US-India Business Council, that went to bat for India at the
NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) and everywhere else,
despite India not being a signatory to the NPT (Non
Proliferation Treaty). So, in that sense there is a lot of
heartburn among all of these players that the most transformation US-India deal in recent times that they all lobbied so strongly for is still in limbo?
Yes, there is no denying that there is deep concern in the
business community, but for many years the Indian
Parliament has been factionalized and now, this is the first
time that there is a solid majority in the Parliament and I
believe that with this solid majority there is the possibility
to negotiate out a solution.
So many factions existed in the Parliament that till Prime
Minister Modi’s party got this overwhelming majority, it
was very difficult for leadership to be exerted in order to
seal a deal on as number of issues.
But now, on any number of issues, with a convincing
majority in control in the parliament, it is possible to have
the prime minister’s will and leadership he reflected in support from the political party which controls the Parliament.
So, it’s a possibility on a number of different issues that
are impediments to further economic ties to move forward
— on issues such as trade liberalization, on issues such as
what we are discussing at this convention, on the civilian
In many cases, the Indian-American business community here is a bridge that has to deal with a lot of the
bureaucracy. So, there is the tremendous opportunity
going forward to also cut a lot of the red tape and to liberalize the rules so that we can see more direct foreign
investment in India.
And, the other aspect of it is the growing reality that
many contracts with Beijing are being severed — that the
rule of law is not being followed in Beijing. The new studies from FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of
Commerceand Industry) and what we’ve been seeing from
The Wall Street Journal show the return on investment in
So, if we can hold up India with its new leadership as a
magnet for US investment, we can do much to increase the
bonds of economic ties, and how important they will be
especially for trading centers like New York and out here in
California for our ports and our vibrant Indian-American
business communities that have played such a major role in
this economic growth.
You have been a driving force in pushing for trade and
investment between the US and India and the relaxing of
some of the draconian regulations by Delhi. What are the
deliverables you would like to see initialed during the
Obama-Modi summit? Would you like to see a signing of at
least a Bilateral Investment Treaty?
I would love to see a Bilateral Investment Treaty signed
between India and the United States. It is high time that we
took that step. I believe that will work and it also could be
a catalyst in US-South Asia trade and investment.
And I believe with the vision that the prime minister has,
we can not only see how India could play such a role,
where India can lead in further liberalizing trade across
South Asia and that’s another area where we have the possibility of reform.
I know the Indian government has concerns with reforms
in the agricultural sector, but it is important that this issue
gets resolved quickly.
And, I am optimistic that the Prime Minister remains
committed to economic reforms and increasing jobs in the
United States. I know he does because of his conversations
and statements on this issue.
I also think that the United States should end its subsidization in the agricultural sector. So, there’s things we can
also do on the United States’ side, which I can push for,
which will help it be more conducive for the economic
expansion of liberalized trade with India.
You’ve been a longtime supporter of increased coordina-
tion between the US and India on counterterrorism coop-
eration, intelligence sharing, etc. (US) Senator (John)
McCain recently week in a major speech at Carnegie said,
‘Imagine the signal India would send if it joined the emerg-
ing international coalition to confront ISIS.’
Do you agree with Senator McCain and do you believe it
is incumbent on India to join such a coalition to fight this
scourge as part of the US-India international counterter-
rorism cooperation efforts?
I believe it is vital and we should form an international
coalition against ISIS, because the brutality of the ISIS and
the use of the Internet for jihadist activities
— what they now call a virtual caliphate on
the Internet — is a reminder that the entire
world community has to be in this together.
And with Al Qaeda for example now targeting India, and with the money coming
into India and every other country around
the globe — finding its way to every other
major power around the globe and into the
coffers of these jihadist organizations — we
need cooperation on terror finance between
the United States and India.
Frankly, we need that cooperation with
Russia, with the capitals of Europe as well
as with the Gulf states especially, so that we
can choke off the hard currency coming
from these Gulf states that fund and fuel
these incubators of terrorism.
So, I would strongly forge such cooperation, and as
we’ve watched India step up its counterterrorism efforts,
we see India taking on its responsibility regionally and
internationally in combating terrorism, it is absolutely
true that India woke up to this threat long before the
United States did.
Since you mentioned Russia, now with almost the advent
of another Cold War — with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine
and annexation of Crimea — how disappointed are you that
India is squarely in Russia’s corner and seemingly justifying Russia’s actions in Ukraine and has not supported the
US and other western states in terms of censoring Russia,
let alone be part of the sanctions regime?
Notwithstanding the former (Indian) foreign minister’s
comments related to the long history that India had with
Russia, the reality is that we must ratchet down these tensions now.
I believe that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin now
has an off-ramp with the negotiations with President
(Petro) Poroshenko of Ukraine. I was in Western Ukraine,
but I also went to the East and I spoke with members of the
parties and I talked with these Russian-speaking
Ukrainians about their perspectives. And what they shared
with me — along with civil society of attorneys groups, the
women’s groups — was that they appreciated Poroshenko’s
new offer for local autonomy, for protection of the Russian
language and culture, but at the end of the day they did not
want to be part of Russia and they wanted Russia to take its
forces out of Ukraine.
So, the international community ought to work together
to resolve this on the lines that Poroshenko is suggesting.
That is a compromise that if mediated correctly can give
Vladimir Putin the rationale he needs to pull his troops out
of Eastern Ukraine and wind down these tensions.
Considering that the US is always wanting India to be a
global player, do you see a role for India to play in ratcheting down these tensions, particularly because it’s had this
close relationship with Russia for decades. That India be
part of this international mediation that you believe is
imperative to give Putin an out?
I believe that all of the leading powers — all of the leading countries in the world —who are focused on this,
should all be supportive diplomatically of Poroshenko’s
solution because it does offer the Russian-speaking
Ukrainians local autonomy and amnesty for all those who
fought and the preservation of their language, their culture,
and emphasis on rebuilding that part of the country.
And, I believe it is in India’s interests as well as that of
Europe’s to have this settled quickly.
India must look… India should look for economic
growth. It needs to create as many jobs as possible and
instability in Eastern Ukraine can be a drag on the recovery
of the economic prosperity in that part of Asia.
trip in laying
A Ukrainian serviceman at the checkpoint near the Eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, September 23. Congressman Ed Royce believes peace in Ukraine is in India’s interest.