Biden Will Be America's President, Not A School Headmaster Who Punishes 'Truant Modi'

Biden Will Be America's President, Not A School Headmaster Who Punishes 'Truant Modi' Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (IANS)
Snapshot
  • It is important to understand two major points — first is that there is nearly a consensus between both the Republicans and the Democrats regarding the need to foster deeper ties with India.

    The second point is far more important for those who are interested in US polity, and that is, Donald Trump was an exception and a departure from the norm.

The public discourse in India has become so shallow that it was quick to pass judgments on the recent US Presidential elections.

Many viewed the outcome of the US elections as a mandate on the Howdy Modi event – or the Namaste Trump event, concluding that the US policy towards India is likely to change.

It is important to understand two major points — first is that there is nearly a consensus between both the Republicans and the Democrats regarding the need to foster deeper ties with India.

This has been the foreign policy that has been practised irrespective of whether we had a Democrat or a Republican President.

A good example is the Indo-US relations under the present Indian regime which saw the Indian Prime Minister work closely with both, President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

The second point is far more important for those who are interested in US polity, and that is, Donald Trump, was an exception and a departure from the norm.

This is important as we saw the administration take an aggressive stance on trade — often erecting tariffs even against allies to reduce the US trade deficit.

More importantly, for a Republican President, the fiscal deficit and high public debt under President Trump’s tenure were something.

Although, Republicans have, perhaps, stopped fretting much over deficits, many of the policies pursued by Trump in general were certainly not those that any conventional Republican President would follow.

The President-Elect and the Democrats in general will, perhaps, further expand the deficit to ensure complete economic recovery.

A part of this deficit would be used to finance investments in human capital in the form of putting in place a comprehensive social security net.

Where most Indian analysts get it wrong is that they view the Democrats as the de-facto Left and relate them with the policies supported by the Indian Left.

However, policies such as healthcare insurance for the poor and vulnerable, affordable housing programmes and cash transfers have been adopted by the present administration in India — which by no means is considered as the Left by many in India.

The point here is that the progressive policies are no longer limited to just the Left as every government is bound by the objectives of a welfare state — which is often enforced by the reality of electoral politics.

The conventional view that has emerged — especially for policy enthusiasts — is that we must pursue private markets wherever they work with limited intervention to ensure they remain competitive, and we must have greater government intervention wherever markets fail.

The universal acceptance of market failure has, therefore, led to a convergence of policy beliefs and this is an outcome of research by US academics spanning across decades.

This is an important point for many in India who expect the President-Elect to have a disagreement with the Indian administration on key policies. It will, in fact, just be the opposite, as both the governments are committed to reducing poverty and inequality.

More interestingly, both the administrations are likely to find a new common ground for cooperation on climate change. The President-Elect has already indicated his desire to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement on the first day of his office — a sign which is encouraging and signals a renewed alliance on containing carbon emissions.

Many have also raised the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act or Article 370 as potential areas of conflict.

However, both of these will not be an issue of conflict as both are ethically and morally consistent with the idea of a progressive agenda.

The Citizenship Amendment Act merely provides a special window of speedy citizenship to religious minorities in our neighbouring countries, where they are being persecuted.

Very likely, we can have the new US regime clamp down heavily against our neighbours for the persecution of ethnic minorities using the state machinery, as it acknowledges the staunch commitment of India towards protecting human rights.

Similarly, on Article 370, they would find that the Act strengthens the rights of disadvantageous groups by conferring the rights that were already conferred to people in other states.

The rethink on these two issues will, perhaps, not be driven by moral, ethical, or progressive concerns, but more by the need to be accommodative to India in order to foster a closer and deeper alliance.

Nonetheless, we should not expect any conflict on any of these grounds as the key focus remains on strengthening the Indo-US partnership.

It, therefore, helps that the President-Elect was the Vice-President under President Barack Obama, under whose leadership the Indo-US relations only deepened.

The early signs of a major reversion to the conventional US Policy is the news reports regarding the increase in H1B visa limits for India and for removing country quota for green cards.

This has been a major issue that has grappled diplomats from both countries over the last few years.

Moreover, it is good for the US, as its ability to attract talent from across the world gives its economy an advantage as many have documented how diversity breads greater innovation and value creation.

In many ways, the reversion to the norm will benefit the Indian IT industry and further help in deepening the private sector cooperation.

More importantly, the policy towards trade will become critical going forward. It is no secret that the global economy has witnessed scarring from the pandemic — and that it requires proactive policy to assist swift economic recovery.

There were concerns of a further trade war which could disrupt the process of economic recovery, thereby prolonging the same.

With the new President–Elect, we can expect in general reduced policy uncertainty, especially on the trade front.

We may have a rethink on trade policy and globalization, by the US could involve a shift towards regional trading blocs as we move to restrict the dominance of China in global value chains.

The policy of the incumbent was focussed on trade wars across the world, while the incoming president may focus on a policy that isolates China even as it deepens trade ties elsewhere.

The key change, however, could be the reversion to multilateralism and global cooperation as we face some of the major economic, environmental, and strategic challenges of the century.

Many might be disappointed to note the continued push towards deepening of the Indo-US relationship; however, this would illustrate the strength of the political setup in the US which has a truly bi-partisan foreign policy.

One hopes that the Opposition in India could learn a thing or two from them and refrain from looking at foreign leaders to support their domestic agenda against the incumbent government.

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