Change in US regime: What it means for India
India can remain the most reliable friend among the emerging countries of the world. Therefore, the economic cooperation between India and the United States, while securing India’s economic and strategic interests, will not only be in the best interests of United States and India but also be imperative for the world peace. — Dr. Ashwani Mahajan
Perhaps this time anxiety about the US elections in India has been much than ever before. Reason, US President Donald Trump has been in news for his cool though, braggadocio style. Private chemistry of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump has also been finding place in the news. In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi Rally’ in Houston, pictures of Trump’s greeting the Indian crowd by putting hands in hand with Modi still remains in the minds of Indians. In India, due to his friendly overtone towards our Prime Minister, and PM’s repeated commentary on his friendship with him, there was a general mood in Trump’s favour. Other reason for him being favourite of Indians (in India) was Republicans’ known stand (in the past) in favour of Pakistan.
It should not be forgotten that though Trump was seen more close to India strategically and diplomatically, while taking a stand against China, he has constantly been taking decisions against India’s economic interests as well. In ‘trade war’, his first target was no doubt China, but, in the same breath, he used to keep India in the same category and increased the import duty on imports coming from India. He even took an extreme decision of withdrawing long standing General System of Preferences (GSP), under which India was given preference in imports at lower tariffs.
Not only this, he also started making visa (H1 B) rules unfavorable for Indian engineers and other personnel working in America. Due to this, the sword of uncertainty was hanging over Indians in the US. At the same time, even before the presidential elections, the US administration was also pressuring India to sign a trade agreement with the US. The terms of the proposed agreement, were also not in the best interests of India, and no agreement could ultimately be reached.
Although, less experienced in politics, Donald Trump reached the presidency after defeating veteran Hillary Clinton, and in that sense, 78 years old Joseph Biden is more seasoned and has been in active politics since 1973, when he became Senator, and his political career is 47 year old., including a stint as Vice President of America, during Barack Obama Presidency. Therefore, one can say that Biden is well aware of India’s important role in international relations. America’s relations with India have seen several ups and downs in the past. During Cold War, India’s Non Aligned policy was never seen with favour in America. Those days America’s relations with our neighboring country Pakistan were more favorable, as compared to India. India never forgot the use of ‘Veto’ against India by US during the Indo-Pak war. But after that, there have been many changes in US, India and the world. In the meantime, the US got full support of India, though unknowingly, post the disintegration of Soviet Union and the advent of globalization. Apart from increasing presence of US companies in India, the US became India’s largest trade partner in the same period (although China had taken over that slot due to heavy imports from China, but to again concede to US recently). Today, Indians and people of Indian origin, play an important role in the American economy and administration.
America has now realised the importance of India, and is now disillusioned with Pakistan for quite some time. Due to Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism, America is increasingly distancing itself from Pakistan and it’s intimacy with India is becoming increasingly visible. Pakistan is already in the ‘grey list’ of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), due to its involvement in terrorism and can be added to the ‘Black List’ any time. At the same time, the economic situation of Pakistan has been steadily deteriorating for the past several years. Under these circumstances, despite change in the US administration, there is no possibility of any change in US-Pakistan relations.
As far as China is concerned, Donald Trump waged war with China even before he became President. After becoming President of US, he left no stone unturned to stop China’s economic aggression, what is known as ‘Trade War’. For nearly two decades, under its aggressive economic policy, and especially trade policy, China had challenged USA’s economic supremacy in the world. Contrary to general belief that Biden may take a soft approach towards China, it has to be understood that given his long-standing experience in US administration, and a mood of US people, any soft approach to China may be detrimental to the interests of US itself. Expansionist policy of China, has forced India, US, Japan and Australia to organise joint military exercises in the by renewed coalition in the name and style of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), in recent times, which may not be possible to stop abruptly. Doing so, would be against the image of a superpower America. Secondly, whereas Trump has been talking about making ‘America great again’, Biden too is in favor of ‘Buy American’. Therefore, ceasing trade restrictions against China is not going to be practical anyways.
The biggest challenge Biden is facing is at the home front. His initial speeches and statements reveal that he very well understands the American problems. Biden’s first priority will be to overcome health crises, caused by century’s worst pandemic, on one hand and economic crises on the other; due to the highest number of infections and deaths in the world. In addition to this, due to the recent racial violence in the US, American society is facing a worst situation of racial harmony. For this, Biden will have to work even harder. His first statement after election results was towards that goal, when said that he will work for all Americans. Apart from this, the image of a superpower has been severely tarnished in the recent times. This was mainly because Donald Trump failed to maintain good relations with Europe and other allies of US. Due to this, both the image and power of America have been affected. Due to the pandemic, the world’s fascination for globalization has also been fast receding. How successful Biden will be in restoring the image of United States, as superpower in the future will depend on how much he is able to diagnose and address American problems. But he has to understand that India can remain the most reliable friend among the emerging countries of the world. Therefore, the economic cooperation between India and the United States, while securing India’s economic and strategic interests, will not only be in the best interests of United States and India but also be imperative for the world peace.