At a time when headlines are often depressing, the United States' growing relationship with India is welcome good news. Recent elections in both countries have provided our new governments with an opportunity to broaden our partnership and take on the world's most pressing challenges.
President Obama and I are personally committed to this task, and I am working to advance this goal during my visit to New Delhi and Mumbai this week. Our two countries are defined by their demography, their democracy, and their diversity. Together, they are home to almost one out of every four human beings on the planet.
Our people share common interests, common values, and a common stake in the 21st century. We and the rest of the world have a lot to gain from our enhanced cooperation. India's 6% growth rate is a bright spot amid the global economic downturn, and bilateral trade and investment flows between our nations have doubled in the last five years.
Some Americans fear that greater partnership with India will mean lost jobs or falling wages in the United States. But if we manage our relationship well, both sides can benefit from India's economic progress. The 300 million members of India's burgeoning middle class present a vast new market and opportunity. Our countries should work together to open that market and spread the benefits of sustainable prosperity.
We have a shared asset in this task. Millions of Indian-Americans are active throughout every sector of our society. And there are 90,000 Indian students in the United States. In medicine, finance, engineering, and education, these unofficial envoys can serve as a conduit for future collaboration.
But for the United States, India's ascent is more than an economic phenomenon. Our nations should also work together to address common challenges including security, non-proliferation, and climate change. Our countries have experienced searing terrorist attacks. We both seek a more secure world for our citizens. We should intensify our defense and law enforcement cooperation to that end. And we should encourage Pakistan as that nation confronts the challenge of violent extremism.
Until recently, concerns about nuclear proliferation were a dominant theme in our relationship. The US-India civil nuclear agreement, a landmark accord completed last year by the Bush Administration with support from President Obama, Vice President Biden, and myself, allows us to transform non-proliferation from a point of contention into an area of cooperation. The agreement entails important benefits and responsibilities for both sides. President Obama has joined with generations of Indian leaders in calling for a nuclear free world. We are looking to New Delhi to work with us in realizing this vision. India recently signed an important agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, condemned North Korea's nuclear test, and became only the third state to completely destroy its chemical weapons stockpile. We hope to build on this progress and work together to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.
Climate change is another area where India can be a vital partner. We want India's economy and people to prosper. At the same time, we can look for opportunities to help India achieve these goals while avoiding an old development model based on dirty fuels and outdated technology. Better environmental practices can and must complement economic growth. The United States and India share an interest in greening our economies. This is not only an ecological imperative, it is also an economic and strategic opportunity. Our countries and the world will gain if we can pool our expertise to increase cooperation on energy efficiency and improve the management of our forests and water. We should harness the talents of our engineers and entrepreneurs to speed the transition to a low-carbon economy, accelerate the deployment of clean technologies, and help bridge India's energy deficit. It is vital for our two countries to work together to find common ground this December in Copenhagen as we seek a strong international agreement to combat the challenge of climate change.
The tasks ahead won't be easy and our two nations won't always agree. But India's involvement will be crucial in addressing the range of challenges on the world's agenda. When President Truman announced the United States' decision to recognize India's independence in 1947, he acknowledged the great trials facing what was then a fragile country. But he also expressed his confidence that India would take its place at the forefront of the nations of the world and find the United States to be a constant friend. Today, President Obama and I believe we have the chance to forge a partnership worthy of that promise. I hope a new era of stronger cooperation between India and the United States will be one of the signature accomplishments of our new governments. The world has a lot riding on our cooperation.
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