India, US may conclude water, space debris, S&T pacts

India, US may conclude water, space debris, S&T pacts

India and the US hope to conclude three key agreements on issues, including space and science, at the second edition of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue in Washington on December 18.

The two sides are negotiating pacts on science and technology, water, and space that could entail technology transfer and collaboration, ET has learnt. The proposed pacts could be signed at the Foreign and Defence Minister, or 2+2, dialogue in DC.

The space deal will entail collaboration in handling space debris and incidents of increased collision threat with operational spacecraft. The pact could lead to collaboration between ISRO’s Space Situational Awareness & Management (SSAM) and the corresponding US agency.

ISRO has set up the Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management to protect high-value assets from space debris close approaches and collisions. A control centre is being set up in Bengaluru to systematically carry out all activities related to SSAM. It would facilitate intensified activities foreseen by SSAM with increasing clutter of space debris and operational space assets.

The ISRO control centre would host a range of activities pertaining to protection of Indian space assets from inactive satellites, pieces of orbiting objects, near-earth asteroids and adverse space weather conditions. The water agreement is likely to involve collaboration under the government’s Jal Shakti Mission.

“Inherent in India’s growth story is a natural partnership with the US. This partnership is evolving fast both in strategic and economic domains,” Indian envoy to Washington Harsh Vardhan Shringla told students and faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday.

“Our defence procurement relationship has gone up from almost nil 15 years ago to nearly $20 billion today. India is now a major defence partner of the US. We have signed a number of foundation agreements and our militaries exercise regularly with each other,” he said.

Shringla said the bilateral trade between the two countries has been growing at 10% year-on-year and is expected to reach $160 billion in 2019.

“Trade has also become more balanced with US exports to India growing faster than Indian exports to the United States. Our investment relationship is also bi-directional with 2,000 US companies investing around $40 billion in India, covering almost every sector of the modern economy,” he said.

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