India is now on a par with America's NATO allies Japan, Australia and South Korea following passage of a bill by the US Senate in a key move to increase defence partnership including advanced technology transfer.
- The National Defense Authorisation Act or NDAA: The legislation provides for increased US-India defence cooperation in the Indian Ocean in the areas of humanitarian assistance, counterterrorism, counter-piracy and maritime security.
Benefits of this move
- Major non-NATO allies (MNNAs) are only involved in strategic working partnerships with NATO countries.
- The designation would make India eligible for entry into cooperative research and development projects with the Department of Defense (DoD) on a shared-cost basis, participation in certain counter-terrorism initiatives, purchase of depleted uranium anti-tank rounds, priority delivery of ships and military rations, and possession of War Reserve Stocks of DoD-owned equipment that are kept outside of American military bases.
- India will also be able to take equipment and research material for development projects as loans, use American financing for the purchase or lease of certain defence equipment, and receive expedited export processing of space technology.
- Significance: The US in 2017 downgraded regional rival Pakistan’s status as an MNNA, citing the harbouring of Osama bin Laden and financing of terror, besides suspending $1.66 bn worth of military aid.
- As China ramps up its alliance with Pakistan, having the perks of a NATO ally can help advance India’s national security and defence commitments.