Monday, December 11, 2023

Biden, Modi and the changing dimensions of Indo-US relations

By Priyanka Saurabh

Joe Biden becomes the next President of the United States. He has defeated Republican candidate and former President Donald Trump. America is the most influential country in the present world, so the change of power in America will have an impact on most of the countries of the world. India was emerging as an important ally of America for some time. Howdy Modi in the US and Namaste Trump in India were the results of close intimacy between the leaders of the two countries. In this situation, the change of power in America will also change the dimensions of India-US relations.

In his victory speech, he emphasized a message of unity and said that the time had come to “heal and restore the soul of America.” I pledge to be a president who does not want to divide but wants to unite. For all of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. But now give each other a chance. Joe Biden has been in favor of the India-US strategic relationship since the time of former President Obama. However, Trump was more focused on the Indo-Pacific region, where India became an important ally of the United States to stop China, and it is likely that Biden would remain an important ally. In addition, the policies of India and the United States against peacekeeping and terrorism in Afghanistan will be implemented in the same direction.

Obama and Biden strengthened cooperation with India to fight terrorism in each of their countries and across the region. “Biden believes that there can be no tolerance for terrorism in South Asia.” While he did not say much during his time in administration on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, the Indian government hopes he will carry forward the legacy of the US administration’s attitude towards India-Pakistan when it comes to cross-border terrorism. The Trump administration had unilaterally banned the nuclear deal with Iran, which was against the previous Obama administration’s decision. India’s relations with both the US and Iran are good. In such a situation, a dilemma was faced by India. It is possible that the Joe Biden administration will resolve this situation.

In the Trump administration, the US was moving away from international organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the Human Rights Commission. India is in favor of the importance of global institutions. In this situation, there was a reversal in the policies of India and the Trump administration. Perhaps the United States recognized the importance of these global institutions under Joe Biden’s administration. Under Trump’s leadership, the US was disassociating itself from the Paris Climate Treaty while India is making all efforts to upgrade the environment. Under Joe Biden’s rule, it is possible that the Paris Treaty would be recognized by the USA. The Trump administration imposed restrictions on Indian goods in favor of the US in an effort to separate India from the GSP category, along with the Indo-US trade balance.

It is possible that India again joins the GSP category under the Biden administration. The situation is likely to improve for non-resident Indians and people of Indian origin who were negatively affected by Trump’s protectionist policies. Vice President Kamala Harris is also of Indian origin. The report of the American Commission on International Religious Freedom described India as a country of religious persecution, to which the Trump administration’s response was neutral, but Biden administration’s vice-president Kamala Harris made her statement against it. At the same time, the Trump administration was neutral on the subject of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, violation of democracy, Citizenship Amendment Act, caste and communal violence, while Kamala Harris reacted against India on these issues.

Joe Biden, who visited India in 2013, reacted strongly to the migration of people from India to other countries. The quad (India, US, Australia, and Japan) being built to stop China was the critical point of the Trump administration’s strategies and became so effective that even Germany was considering joining it. But it cannot be said that Quad Biden will gain so much importance in administration as well. Trump used Hoddy Modi and Namaste Trump (events of Prime Minister of India and former US President Donald Trump) in campaigning.

Only national interests in international relations remain unchanged. Personal relationships do not become a barrier to national interests, so Biden will not be affected by relations with Mr. Narendra Modi and Donald Trump. India is currently a growing force on the world stage. Therefore, India is very important for America’s policies and better relations with America will improve India’s global situation, so both countries need each other. A better relationship between India and America is a relationship between East and West that will be beneficial for the whole world.

Joe Biden has been a friend of India. Long before he became vice-president in the Barack Obama administration, Biden advocated strong ties with India. Biden played an important role, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later as vice-president, in deepening the strategic engagement with India. In fact, in 2006, three years before he became Vice President of the US, Biden announced his vision for the future of US-India relations: “I dream that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States of America. In a speech during a visit to Mumbai in 2013, Mr. Biden said: “We admire the way you are melting ethnicity, faith, and tongue in a single, proud nation.

Over the past 20 years, every US president – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump – had differences on many issues, but if there was one common theme everyone agreed on it was: a stronger one with India relation. This means that there has been a tradition of bipartisan support in favor of better relations with India, and each American president has made better than what he has inherited from his predecessor in the last two decades. There is no reason to believe that Biden will not continue the tradition, but he will, of course, have his own style and nuances, and impose his personal seal on the relationship.

Above all, Mr. Biden’s foreign policy will be seen as a contrast to Trump’s multilateral world order, including agreements such as the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the Human Rights Council, the Joint Action Plan. Biden’s foreign policy from the Iran Nuclear Agreement and the Paris Climate Agreement and the traditional Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific Alliance will also be looked at as what concrete measures he takes to strengthen rules-based international order. The success of the government’s dealings with Mr. Biden’s administration now depends on how much “normal” the Indian government can return to relationships with the US in the next few months.

(Author is research scholar in political science, poetess, independent journalist and columnist. The views expressed are the personal opinion of the author. She can be reached at [email protected])

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