Summary of The Big Picture - RSTV: Indo-U.S two-by-two ministerial dialogue

UPSC Exam Preparation: Summary of The Big Picture – RSTV: Indo-U.S two-by-two ministerial dialogue.
Aug 16, 2017.


  • India and the U.S will start a new two-by-two ministerial dialogue to enhance peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The move was announced by the White house after the U.S president Trump spoke with P.M Modi when he called the latter to greet him on the eve of India’s Independence Day.
  • According to the reports the two ministers in the new two-by-two dialogue will be external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence Minister Arun Jaitley from India’s end and their U.S counterparts Rex Tilerson and James Mattis.
  • In this episode we will analyze the two-by-two dialogue.


Advantages of the two-by-two dialogue

  • India already has existing two-by-two dialogue instruments with Japan and Australia. They have been successful on the ground and have led to better co-operation and co-ordination of strategic policies between the countries involved.
  • Having a two-by-two dialogue with the U.S, which is initiated by the White house itself highlights India’s growing influence and importance in the international arena.
  • This move will lead to better co-ordination and co-operation of foreign and security policies between the two countries.
  • It will give a fillip to the strategic partnership agenda keenly pursued by the governments of both the countries.
  • The two-by-two dialogue augurs well to the India’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region as 50% of India’s trade is undertaken in that region.
  • Guarding the sea lines and communications in the Asia-Pacific region is hence critical for India.
  • This move has come in a very opportune time for India. The ongoing Dhoklam issue has created severe tensions in Indo-China relations.
  • Recently, the U.S administration has commended India’s stand in the Dhoklam issue and has indicated its support to India if China plays any mischief.
  • For the U.S, this is a major component of its “Asia Pivot” policy initiated to further the U.S interests in the Asia-Pacific region and also to contain the growing influence of China in the region. 

Issues in the two-by-two dialogue

  • There is no dearth of instruments or forums between India and the U.S. But the question is who benefits how much from this?
  • The defense agreements of the Americans are fundamentally transactional. They are signed with the main intention of furthering the interests of the U.S.
  • For example, the new two-by-two dialogue focuses on the Asia-Pacific region which excludes the issues faced by India with its western neighbor- Pakistan and also the issue of China-Pak nexus.
  • Also, Americans have a clearer policy on the sea in the Asia-Pacific region, which is evident from the recent naval exercise they conducted alongside India (Malbar exercise). But the U.S does not have a clear strategy when it comes to the issues faced by India w.r.t land frontiers in this region.
  • There is a need to break the administrative logjam, procedural logjam and the political interventions in the Indian defense establishment to make this step a success.
  • The success of the two-by-two dialogue will depend on not only the Indo-U.S collaboration but also much greater collaboration between external affairs ministry and the defense ministry of India which is quite insufficient/poor at present.
  • The growing intimacy between Indo-U.S may lead to downgrading of Indo-Russia relations or strengthening of Russia-China relations.

Way forward

  • The two-by-two dialogue is a step in the right direction which will strengthen the strategic partnership agreement and cement the Indo-U.S relations.
  • Both the countries should demonstrate good faith and work towards ensuring mutual benefits without trying to outsmart each other.
  • In order to make this step a success, a broader strategy should be drafted and it should be convergence of concerns, priorities and issues faced by both the countries in the region.

UPSC Mains Practice Question
  1. In the context of recent developments in the Indo-US relations, do you think the U.S has replaced Russia as the all-weather ally of India?


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