Ever since the Election process concluded and counting commenced, we have witnessed, nail-biting suspense on who would win the race to lead one of the superpowers of the world. We have observed that the state-wise counting and the United States of America was soaking with either blue or red color. And now, finally, after a lot of confusion, assumptions, protests, tweets, re-tweets, counting and re-counting, it is now clear that Joe Biden will chair the 46th Presidency of the United States of America, along with Kamala Harris as Vice-President. Leading a country which is currently boiling with a lot of issues of despair and controversies, can Joe Biden bring in decency, inclusion and hope? We will have to wait and watch.
But the important thing to look at is what is in it for India!
American Indians constitute less than 1% of the total population of the United States, but they are very rich and influential. The numbers being relatively low, what really matters is their participation in this election. During this phase, we saw the inclination of Indian-American voters towards Joe Biden irrespective of the controversial statement made by Kamala Harris on Kashmir issue which clearly meant that India-Americans were unhappy with the Republicans led by Donald Trump.
Let’s look at history. During Barack Obama’s Presidency from 2009 to 2017, Joe Biden, the then Vice-President of the United States of America, in an interview, said “My dream is that in 2020 the two closest nations in the world will be India and the USA”. With this statement, we can assume that Biden’s presidential period could be very fruitful for India.
In 2008, During Biden’s tenure as a senate of foreign relations committee, Indo-US nuclear deal was formulated. In 2016, under Biden’s Vice-Presidency, India singed LEMOA (Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement), one of the four foundational agreements with the United States. India became a major defence partner of the United States during Obama-Biden’s tenure. It is during the same period that India became a member of Paris climate agreement.
Now the Big Question! As POTUS (President of the United States) is Joe Biden good for India?
India is the world’s largest democracy and the USA is the world’s oldest democracy.
Let’s begin! Joe Biden will definitely scale up the existing strong relations with India to another level which is one of his state policies.
There might be no change in the Pro India policy of the United States. Biden will work to promote and advance Obama’s dream of “defining partnership” between India and the United States.
After the military base pulled out from Afghanistan during Trump's Presidency, United States did not need Pakistan. So, there might no change in the relations of the United States & Pakistan which is going in India’s favor.
After the Covid-19 outbreak, Anti-China sentiment arose across countries and United States is not untouched with this issue. The Chinese expansion policy is a major threat to the Americans as well as Indians. To tackle China, America needs India in the South China Sea.
Biden will continue to support India in the Quad group and likely seems to continue Indo-Pacific construct.
Joe Biden may further strengthen India-US trade relations. This may include the restoration of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) status which was revoked by Donald Trump in 2019. Biden’s economic agenda includes renovation of several international trade rules that will benefit both the nations.
Trump ceased the participation of the USA in Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 but Joe Biden announced that America will join Paris Agreement again which leads to the alignment of the US and India for the climate change issue in the future.
The most important aspect in which Biden will unapologetically support India is 'defence cooperation'.
In addition, he will soon announce a plan to revamp the H-1B visa processes, which will benefit hundreds of Indian Tech organizations and employees who have always dreamt of working in the United States with the term 'On-Site' opportunity.
Donald Trump's policy was not immigrant friendly. He imposed numerous sanctions & restrictions on immigrants to support American first policy. He changed the H-1B visa system which affected Indians at large. Biden plans to bring up new reforms in the immigrant policy to eliminate the limits on restrictions imposed by Trump and liberalize the green card employment.
A Flip Side of Joe Biden’s Presidentship
Joe Biden hails from the Democratic Party which is not in support with India on the abrogation of Article 370 from Kashmir and 'CAA' (Citizenship Amendment Act), 'NRC' (National Register of Citizens) which are clearly India’s internal affairs.
Biden is strongly against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issues of Jammu & Kashmir. During his presidential campaign 'Agenda for Muslim-American Communities', he quoted the Kashmir issue which clearly denotes that India would be on the radar and on the receiving end.
During one of her speeches, Kamala Harris stated, "we have to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping a track on the situation", (source: The Economic Times). These lines of course attracted the US Muslim voters, but have lit fire between India - US relations, which might lead to future political frictions.
By Aditya Verma & Uday Kanth