"South Asia emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core U.S. foreign policy interests. India, the region's dominant actor with more than 1 billion citizens, is often characterized as a nascent great power and 'indispensable partner' of the United States, one that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to China's growing clout. Since 2004, Washington and New Delhi have been pursuing a 'strategic partnership' based on shared values and apparently convergent geopolitical interests. Numerous economic, security, and global initiatives, including plans for civilian nuclear cooperation, are underway. This latter initiative--first launched in 2005 and codified in U.S. law in 2008--reversed three decades of U.S. nonproliferation policy, but has not been implemented to date. Also in 2005, the United States and India signed a ten-year defense framework agreement to expanding bilateral security cooperation. The two countries now engage in numerous and unprecedented combined military exercises, and major U.S. arms sales to India are underway. […] Its left-leaning Congress Party-led ruling national coalition has been in power for more than seven years under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, an Oxford-trained economist. New Delhi's engagement with regional and other states is extensive and reflects its rising geopolitical status. The national economy has been growing rapidly-- India's is projected to be the world's third-largest economy in the foreseeable future--yet poor infrastructure, booming energy demand, and restrictive trade and investment practices are seen to hamper full economic potential. Despite the growth of a large urban middle-class, India's remains a largely rural and agriculture-based society, and is home to some 500-600 million people living in poverty. This report will be updated periodically."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33529