With Obama at the helm of affairs, the USA and #India moved closer towards a strategic partnership with China as the central theme. Now that Obama will be relinquishing office and #Donald Trump takes over one wonders whether this strategic relationship will be sustained. Trump is an unknown commodity but in his address to the Indo-American community, he announced that the USA and India were "natural allies". He went on to add that India and America will be "very good friends". Donald is also supported by right-wing Hindu groups who have been supporting and praying for him.

Protagonists Indira and Nixon

This close relationship now is in sharp contrast to the year 1971 which was a tumultuous period in Indo-American relations. Two strong protagonists Indira Gandhi and Richard Nixon faced each other. The shrewd Indira had a few months earlier concluded a military pact with the Soviet Union before launching the invasion of East Pakistan.This was after almost 10 million refugees fled to India to escape the atrocities of the Pakistan army.

The US was the ally of Pakistan and once Indian forces advanced into East Pakistan the then Pakistan president General Yahiya Khan appealed for help to Richard Nixon. The Indian navy's battle group led by the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant imposed a blockade of East Pakistan and also commenced a bombardment of the port of Chittagong.

The near-clash

The Americans had no ships in the Bay of Bengal but Richard Nixon ordered the 7th fleet to the Bay of Bengal with instructions to establish a bridgehead. The fleet was at least 10 days away in the South China sea but it sailed for the Bay of Bengal led by the aircraft carrier USS enterprise. India invoked the defense pact with the Soviet Union and Russian nuclear-powered submarines got on the tail of the American fleet. It was the making of a real mess.

The Indian battle group led by the INS Vikrant was instructed to stop the US aircraft carrier and at the same time the Indian army speeded up operations against the Pakistan army. Within 14 days the Pakistan army surrendered and over 100,000 soldiers became POWs. They had lost the will to fight despite exhortations by Yahiya Khan to hold on as help was coming. Nixon was aghast at the surrender which led to the creation of Bangladesh but he was a pragmatic man and accepted India as the dominant power in SE Asia. Had the surrender not taken place a clash could have taken place between the US navy and Indian navy.

The future

Times have changed and the Soviet Union has broken up and Pakistan is in the bad books of the USA as a fomenter of terror groups. India has also moved ahead and the defense pact with Russia which expired in 1990 is not renewed as India is now into a strategic relationship with the USA. There is every chance that Donald will foster a stronger strategic relationship with " Hindu" India.