TL_US_India_Relations
Timeline

U.S.-India Relations

1947 – 2015

Since India’s independence, ties with the United States have weathered Cold War-era distrust and estrangement over India’s nuclear program. Relations have warmed in recent years and cooperation has strengthened across a range of economic and political areas.

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Muslim refugees attempt to flee India after partition in 1947. AP Images
Muslim refugees attempt to flee India after partition in 1947. (AP Images)
India Declares Independence

Britain declares the end of its colonial rule of the subcontinent and passes the Indian Independence Act, which divides the territory into Muslim-majority Pakistan and secular India, whose population is majority Hindu. Violent clashes between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims follow, and as many as a million die in bloodshed amidst the forced migration of up to twenty million people.

Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and U.S. president Harry Truman wave at the Washington, DC airport. AP Images
Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and U.S. president Harry Truman wave at the Washington, DC airport. (AP Images)
Prime Minister Nehru Visits U.S.

Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru meets with U.S. president Harry S. Truman on a multi-week tour tour of the United States. The trip precedes India’s formal proclamation of neutrality in the developing Cold War, in which it would take a leadership role within the Non-Alignment movement. This sets the tone for U.S.-India relations throughout the Cold War, creating constraints within the relationship, as well as opportunity for amity between Delhi and Moscow.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Taj Mahal. AP Images
President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Taj Mahal. (AP Images)
President Eisenhower Visits India

President Dwight Eisenhower is the first serving U.S. president to visit the country. Eisenhower meets with President Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and addresses Parliament.

Refugees from Northeast India evacuate their homes after Chinese troops attack.  AP Images
Refugees from Northeast India evacuate their homes after Chinese troops attack. (AP Images)
India, China Fight Border War

War breaks out between India and China over a disputed frontier. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru writes to President John F. Kennedy to request support from the United States. Washington supports India in the conflict, recognizing the McMahon line as the border, and provides air assistance and arms. Until the 1965 Inda-Pakistan War, strategic and military ties between Washington and Delhi remain close.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Norman Borlaug looks at selected wheat stocks. AP Images
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Norman Borlaug looks at selected wheat stocks. (AP Images)
U.S. Agronomist Spurs Food Revolution

Norman Borlaug travels to India to begin testing high-yield wheat varieties. His collaboration with Indian scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan results in the “Green Revolution,” and India goes from food scarcity to self-sufficiency within a decade.

 

 

Pakistani citizens demand independence for East Pakistan. AP Images
Pakistani citizens demand independence for East Pakistan. (AP Images)
India, Pakistan Go to War

India and Pakistan become embroiled in their third conflict as Pakistan descends into a civil war that ends with the creation of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, on December 6. Despite evidence of the Pakistan Army’s violence against its own citizens in East Pakistan, the United States sides with Islamabad, given its mediating role in Nixon’s rapprochement with China. India also signs a twenty-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union in August, sharply deviating from its previous position of non-alignment in the Cold War.

Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi examines the nuclear test site. AP Images
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi examines the nuclear test site. (AP Images)
India Completes First Nuclear Test

India detonates its first nuclear device, becoming the first nation outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to have declared nuclear capabilities. The move contributes to a period of estrangement between the United States and India that lasts over two decades.

President Jimmy Carter at the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. Charles Harrity/AP Images
President Jimmy Carter at the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. (Charles Harrity/AP Images)
President Carter Visits India

U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits India on a three-day official trip to meet with Indian President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and Prime Minister Morarji Desai, and address Parliament. Desai reciprocates with an official six-day visit to Washington in June.

President Jimmy Carter signs the Nuclear-Non proliferation Act. AP Images
President Jimmy Carter signs the Nuclear-Non proliferation Act. (AP Images)
U.S. Enacts Nonproliferation Act

The Carter administration enacts the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act, which requires countries not included in the Nonproliferation Treaty—which includes India—to allow inspections of all nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. India refuses, and Washington ends all nuclear assistance to Delhi.

The cremation ceremony of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Suresh Karadia/AP Images
The cremation ceremony of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. (Suresh Karadia/AP Images)
Indira Gandhi Assassinated

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated at her New Delhi residence by Sikh security guards seeking vengeance after her authorization of a military attack on a revered Sikh temple in Amritsar five months prior. Gandhi, the daughter of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, first took office in 1966. She made a state visit to Washington in 1982, which was followed by a high-level U.S. visit led by Vice President George H.W. Bush. She is succeeded by her son, Rajiv.

Relatives bury victims of the Bhopal leak in front of the Union Carbide factory. AP Images
Relatives bury victims of the Bhopal leak in front of the Union Carbide factory. (AP Images)
Bhopal Leak

A toxic gas and chemical leak at American-owned Union Carbide Pesticide Plant in Bhopal, India, kills thousands. India unsuccessfully seeks extradition of the company’s chief executive from the United States for criminal prosecution as the death and disability toll climbs to the tens of thousands in the ensuing years. The incident harms U.S.-India relations, and continues to complicate the bilateral relationship years after.

A missile on display during a Republic Day parade in New Delhi. Kamal Kishore/Reuters
A missile on display during a Republic Day parade in New Delhi. (Kamal Kishore/Reuters)
U.S. Crisis Mission to Region

Deputy National Security Advisor Robert Gates travels to India and Pakistan to defuse tensions over the rapidly escalating insurgency in Kashmir. The trip comes amid fears of potential nuclear warfare between Pakistan and India.

Indian brokers monitor indices at a firm in Mumbai. Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
Indian brokers monitor indices at a firm in Mumbai. (Punit Paranjpe/Reuters)
Economic Reforms

The government of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao launches sweeping economic reforms that help expand economic ties with the United States. Finance Minister Manmohan Singh oversees the opening of India’s economy to international trade and investment, deregulation, initiation of privatisation, tax reforms, and inflation controlling measures that catalyze decades of fast growth.

Activists stage a protest on the first anniversary of the nuclear tests in New Delhi.  Reuters
Activists stage a protest on the first anniversary of the nuclear tests in New Delhi. (Reuters)
India Tests Nuclear Devices

The Indian government announces the completion of a series of underground nuclear tests close to the border with Pakistan, surprising U.S. intelligence organizations and raising fears the move could spark a regional nuclear arms race. The tests draw international condemnation and badly damage India’s relationship with the United States. After recalling the U.S. ambassador to India, President Bill Clinton imposes economic sanctions, required under U.S. law.

Pakistani militants capture the Kargil heights in Kashmir. AP Images
Pakistani militants capture the Kargil heights in Kashmir. (AP Images)
Pakistan, India Clash in Kashmir

Pakistani forces infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir. India launches air strikes in return, and armed conflict continues through early July. After President Clinton summons Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington for a Fourth of July emergency meeting, Sharif withdraws Pakistani forces from their positions beyond the Line of Control.

President Clinton reaches out to residents of Nayla, India. J. Scott Applewhite/Reuters
President Clinton reaches out to residents of Nayla, India. (J. Scott Applewhite/Reuters)
Clinton Trip Signals Warming Ties

President Bill Clinton makes the first U.S. presidential trip to India since 1978. The visit ends the estrangement of the post-1998 Indian nuclear weapons tests, although the Clinton administration presses India’s government to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum is also established during the visit. As India’s economy begins to take off, the trip indicates a further shift in Washington’s regional orientation away from its Cold War alliance with Pakistan.

A banner encourages the boycott of U.S. goods after Washington imposed economic sanctions on India. Savita Kirloskar/Reuters
A banner encourages the boycott of U.S. goods after Washington imposes economic sanctions on India. (Savita Kirloskar/Reuters)
U.S. Lifts India Sanctions

The George W. Bush administration lifts all remaining U.S. sanctions [PDF] that were imposed on India after its 1998 nuclear test. Most economic sanctions had been eased within a few months of their imposition, and Congress authorized the president to remove all remaining restrictions in 1999.

Natwar Singh greets Condoleezza Rice. Kamal Kishore/Reuters
Natwar Singh greets Condoleezza Rice. (Kamal Kishore/Reuters)
Energy Security Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits New Delhi, where she and Indian officials agree to start a dialogue on energy security. The visit underscores an upswing in relations despite tensions over India’s possible energy cooperation with Iran and the U.S. sale of fighter jets to Pakistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shakes hands with Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Larry Downing/AP Images
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shakes hands with Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee. (Larry Downing/AP Images)
U.S., India Sign New Defense Framework

The United States and India sign the New Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship [PDF], which sets priorities for defense cooperation in maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and counterterrorism. In October, the two countries conduct the largest naval exercise to date, followed by major air and land exercises.

President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a White House press conference. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images
President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a White House press conference. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)
Landmark Civil Nuclear Deal

India and the United States ink the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative, a ten-year defense framework that lifts a three-decade U.S. moratorium on nuclear trade with India. Under the agreement, India agrees to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place all its civil resources under IAEA safeguards. In exchange, the United States agrees to work toward full civil nuclear cooperation with India. Congress gives final approval in October 2008.

U.S. President George W. Bush greets people after a speech in New Delhi. Jim Young/Reuters
U.S. President George W. Bush greets people after a speech in New Delhi. (Jim Young/Reuters)
President George W. Bush Visits India

U.S. President George W. Bush makes a visit to India, where he and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finalize the framework of the civil nuclear deal and boost security and economic ties. The nuclear deal, completed in July 2007, makes India the only country outside of the Nonproliferation Treaty that has nuclear capabilities and is allowed to participate in nuclear commerce.

Photographers run past a burning Taj Mahal Hotel. Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
Photographers run past a burning Taj Mahal Hotel. (Punit Paranjpe/Reuters)
Terrorists Attack Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists from Pakistan attack the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. More than three hundred citizens die in the three-day conflagration, including six Americans. The United States cooperates closely with Indian authorities, sending FBI investigators and forensics experts.

President Barack Obama with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a state dinner. Jason Reed/Reuters
President Barack Obama with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a state dinner. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Begins U.S. State Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama hosts the inaugural state visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Despite its symbolic importance, the trip fails to yield any significant breakthroughs in the bilateral relationship.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner meets with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington. Molly Riley/Reuters
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner meets with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington. (Molly Riley/Reuters)
Economic and Financial Partnership

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner makes his first official trip to India to launch the new U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership with Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The ministerial-level meetings kick off an effort to institutionalize deeper bilateral relations on economic and financial sector issues.

U.S. president Barack Obama speaks at the the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue reception. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue reception. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
U.S., India Hold First Strategic Dialogue

The United States and India formally convene the first U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. A large, high-ranking delegation of Indian officials visits Washington, DC, and Secretary Clinton lauds India as “an indispensable partner.” President Obama says the relationship “will be a defining partnership in the twenty-first century.” Subsequent dialogues follow annually.

U.S. president Barack Obama greets students in Mumbai. Jason Reed/Reuters
U.S. president Barack Obama greets students in Mumbai. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
Obama Backs India Bid for UN Security Council

President Obama visits India, where he addresses Parliament and backs the country’s long-held bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The trip also highlights the countries’ economic ties, with Obama announcing $14.9 billion in trade deals. However, trade concerns around access to Indian markets and issues surrounding civil nuclear cooperation cloud the talks.

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center outside Washington, DC. Hyungwon Kang/Reuters
The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center outside Washington, DC. (Hyungwon Kang/Reuters)
U.S., India Ink Cybersecurity Memorandum

The United States and India sign a Memorandum of Understanding in New Delhi to promote closer cybersecurity cooperation. The agreement is designed to fulfill one of the pillars of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta inspects guards in New Delhi. Jim Watson/Reuters
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta inspects guards in New Delhi. (Jim Watson/Reuters)
Panetta Boosts Military Ties

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visits India to bolster military ties in the wake of the Obama administration’s announced “pivot” to Asia. The trip marks the first such visit since former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with Indian counterparts in January 2010.

President Barack Obama with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Oval Office. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
President Barack Obama with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Oval Office. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Singh Makes Last Visit to Washington

Manmohan Singh visits Washington in his last visit to the United States as India’s prime minister. The trip, which focuses on security, trade, immigration reform, and the civilian nuclear deal, marks the third meeting between Singh and Obama in four years. It comes amid a backdrop of domestic political issues in Delhi, a troubled Indian economy, and a government shutdown crippling Washington.

U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell attends an event in New Delhi. Saurabh Das/AP Images
U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell attends an event in New Delhi. (Saurabh Das/AP Images)
Diplomatic Row Sours Ties

The U.S. embassy in India announces Ambassador Nancy Powell’s resignation in the wake of a dispute over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York. The announcement comes amid the run-up to high-profile national elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters. Ajit Solanki/AP Images
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters. (Ajit Solanki/AP Images)
Obama Invites Modi to U.S.

The Hindu nationalist BJP party wins national elections in a landslide, elevating Narendra Modi to prime minister. President Barack Obama congratulates Modi and invites him to the White House, reversing an earlier visa ban. Modi had been barred from entering the country over U.S. concerns about the 2002 massacre of Muslims in the state of Gujarat, which occurred when Modi was the state’s chief minister.

Prime Minister Modi speaking at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Prime Minister Modi speaking at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Modi’s High-Profile U.S. Visit

Narendra Modi makes his first visit as prime minister to the United States, aiming to attract investment and firm up the U.S.-India strategic partnership. Modi's events include a sold-out speech in New York's Madison Square Garden and meetings with U.S. business executives. In Washington, Modi and President Obama reach agreement on a memorandum of understanding between the Export-Import Bank and an Indian energy agency, which provides up to $1 billion to help India develop low-carbon energy alternatives and aid U.S. renewable energy exports to India.

U.S. president Barack Obama and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk through the gardens at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Jim Bourg/Reuters
U.S. president Barack Obama and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk through the gardens at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Obama's Second India Visit Elevates Ties

U.S. President Barack Obama makes his second visit to India as head of state for India's Republic Day celebrations. The president heralds the relationship between the world's two largest democracies, saying, "America can be India's best partner." Obama and Indian PM Modi announce a breakthrough on nuclear-related issues that could help implement the U.S.-India civil nuclear deal. Six months later, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and India’s defense minister, Manohar Parrikar, sign documents to renew the ten-year U.S.-India Defense Framework Agreement.

Timeline
U.S.-India Relations