This week, a delegation from India's government arrived in Washington for the first-ever strategic dialogue between India and the United States. This was no routine meeting. It was the culmination of years of intensive engagement between our countries engagement that will grow even deeper as we confront the urgent global, regional and local challenges of this era.
India is the world's largest democracy, one of its fastest growing economies and a rising power in Asia and beyond. It has vibrant democratic institutions, a free press, robust civil society, an innovative private sector and tens of millions of citizens whose talents have yet to be fully realised. It is also a model of democratic development that has lifted millions of people out of poverty by widening access to the tools of opportunity education, healthcare, food, water and jobs.
India's rise is a defining storyline of early 21st century. And as President Barack Obama has said, India is an indispensible partner to the US. Given the complexity of the challenges we face and the values we share, the US-India partnership is critical to our mutual progress.
Through our strategic dialogue, we are expanding our cooperation on global issues on which India can and must play a leading role, including climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and food security. Already, India has taken important steps. Last year, it helped shape the Copenhagen Accord and pledged to lower its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by up to 25 per cent by 2020. During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington in November, he and President Obama launched the partnership to advance clean energy, to bring Indian and American scientists together to develop and deploy technologies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Our nations are advancing global security by working together on counterterrorism and nuclear non-proliferation, building on the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation initiative. At the nuclear security summit in April, Prime Minister Singh announced that India will create a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership to train scientists from other countries in nuclear safety an important contribution to our common security and to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
India and the US are also working together on the challenge of global hunger and food insecurity. Fifty years ago, India's Green Revolution saved millions of lives and transformed India's economy. A similar transformation is needed today in other parts of the world, especially Africa. Indian and American scientists are developing new seeds and pesticides to boost crop yields, which will save lives and lift farmers' fortunes including in India's rural regions.
Meanwhile, India is as an anchor of stability and economic growth in Asia. Its leadership will be critical to solving regional challenges most urgently, securing Afghanistan's future. India, the US and countries worldwide have a stake in a stable Afghanistan. India has provided $1.3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan; India is building the new parliament building; and Indian and American groups are working together to help Afghan engineers bring 24-hour electricity to Kabul.
India is an Asian power, and a secure, prosperous Asia is critical to a secure, prosperous world. The US wants to work with India to create an open and inclusive regional architecture that makes it possible for all countries in Asia to rise and prosper. Toward that vision, we are called to promote trade, protect vital sea lanes and respond to natural disasters.
Apart from our cooperation on global and regional issues, the US also remains committed to a strong bilateral relationship with India, built on the ties that connect our governments, private sectors, civil societies, universities and citizens.
One example is education. More than 100,000 Indian students study in the US. We want an equal number of Americans to study at Indian universities, and for the educational partnerships between our nations to expand. To that end, we have nearly tripled the number of Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship scholars during the last two years. The new Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative will build partnerships between Indian and American universities. And India is now poised to undertake a significant educational reform: allowing foreign universities to open campuses in India.
Our economic and financial partnerships are also growing, helping India move closer to its development goals. To deepen these ties, Washington and New Delhi are called to emulate the entrepreneurial spirit of Manhattan and Mumbai by reducing barriers to trade and investment, which will open markets and create jobs in both countries.
The relationship between India and the US goes back generations and has enriched the lives of millions of our people. Today, our partnership of democracies is shaping the world of the 21st century. Together, we can achieve great things for our citizens and for people everywhere. This is our opportunity and our responsibility.
The writer is US Secretary of State.