In 1947, after India became independent from Great Britain, U.S. President Harry Truman said that the sovereign nation was rather cramped with cows that wander the streets, people who sit on hot coals and bathe in the Ganges, poor people and witch doctors. This was a very common perception of the nation at the time. In 1958, a survey of authoritative American individuals found that most viewed India in a negative light and believed it to be pitied, poverty-stricken and filthy. This perception continued over the next three decades, with polls throughout the 1980s ranking the nation one of the last regarding its importance to the vital interests of the United States. However, this has changed over the last few decades.
In 2014, a survey conducted by Gallup revealed that more than 70 percent of the American public views India in a positive light. The country has even replaced Japan as the second-largest economy in Asia in terms of buying power. Several leading economists have raved of its role in the global economy. India has totally reinvented its relationship with the United States in a rather short time span. One major contributor to this was the launch of economic reforms in 1991. This opened the nation’s economy to foreign marketplaces and allowed the private business sector to take on a larger role, which accelerated economic growth at a breathtaking speed. That growth continues even today.
Growth of Economy Not The Only Benefit
However, the growth of the economy is not the only benefit that India provides for the United States. Its citizens are arguably the best resource that the country provides. Indians are now the third-largest group to immigrate to the United States, and they are one of the most highly paid and well-educated demographics in the States. Seventy-seven percent of them go to U.S. colleges to obtain degrees, usually in fields based in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They have molded the American tech industry into a global juggernaut. Indian immigrants have a particularly major influence in the Silicon Valley of Northern California. From 2006 to 2012, they were responsible for establishing one-third of the startup companies in the area, which is much more than other immigrant groups.
S. Jaishankar, the foreign secretary of India, observed while serving as as the ambassador to Washington, D.C., how the relationship between his country and the United States has dramatically changed. He was quoted saying that when people think about how the relationship has transformed, it’s only natural to accredit it to good diplomacy from both countries, however, he believes that the Indian-American community is the main reason for the transformation. Future generation are expected to only nurture the relationship between India and the United States, which are stronger powerhouses when they work together than if they work apart.