NEW DELHI: AS billionaire-businessman without any experience of holding public office, Donald J Trump staged an upset win in the US Presidential election, watchers of India-US relations say New Delhi should move fast to build on the upward swing in bilateral ties.
There are many areas where India would be keenly following Trump's policy initiatives. If his campaign is to be taken as a signal of things to come, the first area to be looked at would be security
since Trump has been harping on withdrawing from any foreign wars with no impact on the US. The second is economic as he wants to nix “unfair” competition to American workers and some curbs on immigration can be expected with a tighter visa regime.
Indian diplomats have been in touch with both candidates even before the US election results were announced. “If you are not in touch with all options then you are fairly in for a surprise,” a diplomat
said before adding that of the two candidates, Trump had the most “novel” ideas with regard to foreign policy. However, the official said it does not matter if Republicans or Democrats form the government as India enjoys true bipartisan support from all quarters in the US.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Trump on his election as the President-elect and said New Delhi was looking forward to closely work with him. “Congratulations Donald Trump on being elected as the 45th US President. We look forward to working with you closely to take India-US bilateral ties to a new height,” said Modi.
Nirupama Rao, former foreign secretary who served as Ambassador to the US, echoed
positivity on Trump's win. “I believe President-elect Trump will be an enthusiastic proponent of an even better and stronger India-US relationship. India should not waste time in reaching out to Mr. Trump and his team in order to establish a durable understanding that will take the relationship forward in all sectors of relevance, including the strategic and economic,” Rao told Express.
Trump has not elaborated on how his South Asian foreign policy will be formulated, but stray statements provide clues.
Trump and Modi are likely to have convergence of thoughts on following a tough line on combating terrorism. Trump has not been mincing words on Pakistan’s support to terrorists and their networks. In 2012, an angry Trump had tweeted: “When will Pakistan apologize to us for providing safe sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden for 6 years?! Some “ally””. How much of this will be translated into policy shift remains to be seen.
The successor of President Barak Obama, with whom Modi shared a good equation, has also professed his inclination for India. During a charity event organised by the Republican Hindu Coalition in
October, the President-elect had said India and US would be “best friends” if he's elected President.
The sentiments were echoed by US Envoy Richard Verma who said India-US relations go beyond the friendship between the American President and Indian PM. “The US-India relationship is vitally important, it is bipartisan, and it is only growing stronger. Here’s to another four years of robust US-India dosti,” Ambassador Verma said after Trump’s victory speech.
Another issue would be immigration following Trump’s stand to reform the H1B system visa system and temporary stopping of grant of ‘green cards’. Indian techies and students will likely bear the brunt of any such move. Another positive takeaway from his election would be how he would be working towards improving relations with Russia. The downhill movement in Washington-Moscow ties has impacted India’s strategic equation with the two countries.