Two influential American Senators along with leaders from the corporate world have called for strengthening ties with India, including in the defence sector.

“We want India and the United States to be the very best of friends with the deepest relationships,” Senator Steve Daines said on Monday.

He was speaking at a fireside between John Chambers and Senator Dan Sullivan during the annual Leadership Summit of the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF).

“I think globally it`s so important here that we have clarity around who the good guys are and how we want to perpetuate these relationships and strengthen relationships. And the good guys are the United States and India,” the Senator from Montana said.

“China is watching what we are doing with India,” Daines said.

Senator Dan Sullivan said a lot of these countries are motivated by historical grievances. “I think this… new era, it`s really a return to the era of authoritarian aggression, is going to be with us for years and decades to come,” he said.

One needs to deepen, broaden and make more concrete relationships in the different areas of QUAD, he said, referring to the grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia.

“To me, the good news that exists between the US-India relationship on the defence side can cover the whole gamut of what we need in terms of technologies, but also what we need in terms of basic warfighting capability,” he said.

Sullivan said India and the US are now doing a much greater number of strategic experiences. “To me, the good news that exists between the US-India relationship on the defence side can cover the whole gamut of what we need in terms of technologies, but also what we need in terms of basic warfighting capability. First, it`s really interesting to see how this happened, but the combatant command is the top joint force,” he said, adding that the US needed help in this field.

“Our Navy is shrinking. Our ability to produce Navy warships has atrophied. We have a huge crisis in not only Navy shipbuilding. but Navy maintenance of ships. What has been happening is normally for US Navy ships to get heavy-duty maintenance, they come back to the United States,” he said.

John Chambers, chairman of USISPF, said Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents the two countries a chance to come together closer and to have a whole vision of what`s going to occur.

“It is really important to recognise we`re in this new era of authoritarian aggression that`s led by Xi Jinping and Putin and the Ayatollahs in Iran, and Kim Jong-un in North Korea. They`re all working together.

“When we said a year ago that India would have the largest GDP in the world, a lot of people were kind of surprised. To me, it was simple. You have a recognition. You look at the population age, you look at the minimums going on, and it was inevitable. But when you look at what can be done over the next 10 years together, you begin to see a country that will lay a foundation with the US as its strategic partner to change the world in a way that`s never been done before,” Chambers said.

“Not only will India become the number one economy in the world, but India will probably by the end of this century, and I think it will be India`s century of the future, will be 90 per cent bigger than the GDP of China, and probably 30 per cent bigger than that of the US,” he said.

“It`s important that this relationship is defined, not just purely on technology, is defined on geopolitics, is defined on economic opportunity, but more important is defined on people to people. We have roughly 5.1 million Indian Americans and around 1.2 million on H-1B visas in the United States,” Mukesh Aghi, president and CEO of USISPF, said.

Henry Kravis, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co., was presented with the 2024 Global Leadership Award for his unwavering commitment to enhancing the US-India relationship.

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