Biden trumps Donald; Modi says ‘Ab Ki Baar Namaste Yaar’

K S Tomar

K S Tomar

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JOE BIDEN has won mandated 270 electoral votes out of 538 thereby ascertaining his ascendency to be next 46th head of United States. However, President Donald Trump refuses to concede and desperately wants to keep his chances of re-election alive, especially through Supreme Court having Republican leaning Justices, but without any success so far.

Notwithstanding India’s close ties with Trump administration, election of new President Joe Biden is unlikely to make any deviation and will follow the existing path of strategic, defence and security relations with India, which were strengthened in 2008 with the singing of the nuclear deal, when George Bush was President of United States.

India And America Enjoy Mutually Beneficial Trust On Major Issues

Foreign policy experts opine that ties between USA and India are fundamentally based on mutual trust and benefits, robust and vigorous institutional framework with several enabling agreements and understanding, military agreements leading to sharing sensitive satellite data amid India’s tense border standoff with China etc. This relationship may be cemented in the Biden regime.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Joe Biden’s message during his campaign was clear that the India-US partnership will be a “high priority” of his administration. Biden also said that he would lift the temporary suspension of H-1B visas, imposed by Trump and hinted at a more inclusive and generous immigration policy. Given the state of the US economy, it was politically brave of him to speak in favour of foreign workers.

Biden told a fund-raiser in his signature blunt style. “The partnership, a strategic partnership, is necessary and important.” He said he was “proud” to have played an important role as Senator in getting the India-US civil nuclear deal through the US Congress. The deal indeed changed the bilateral relationship in a fundamental manner.

Indian Diaspora Did Not Support Trump

According to foreign policy experts, Trump did stand with India and never interfered in domestic affairs like CAA, Abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Human Rights violation etc but nothing can be guaranteed about Biden-Harris combine as they might do it in a veiled manner.

However, Trump raised tariffs on imports from India, on everything from steel to rubber, causing a “mini trade war” with India. He has removed preferential treatment given to Indian exports, further hurting the Indian economy at a time when it’s been bleeding. A host of changes to US visa policies have made it difficult for US firms to hire Indians on H-1B work visas. This has hit the Indian outsourcing model hard.

India ratified the Paris climate accord in October 2016 under the presumption that the US will keep its word on the Green Climate Fund that would have invested in Indian renewables. But Trump didn’t want to shell out the money, and blamed India and China for walking out of the Paris Agreement.

Modi with Trump at ‘Howdy Modi’ event

Some former Ambassadors felt that no international leader lobbies in another country’s polls but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did try to help Trump in Howdy Modi rally of Indian diaspora where he declared that ‘Abki Baar Trump Ki Sarkar‘ but it did not work as majority of Indians Americans voted for democrats which is traditionally true also.

Trump was given a huge welcome in Ahmedabad and he got confident about Indian American voters who did not approve his policies.

President Trump Campaign had also created coalitions – Indian Voices for Trump, Hindu Voices for Trump, Sikhs for Trump, and Muslim Voices for Trump – to engage community members in defeating Democratic candidate Biden.

“These four campaign coalitions represented groups that strongly supported the values of President Trump and the Republican Party: freedom, democracy, and the American Dream,” Ashley Hayek, Trump 2020 Director of Coalitions, was quoted as saying.

One of Indian Americans, a supporter of Hindutava said in a Tweet said “We are creating awareness amongst the Hindus in US to vote for Trump as he is Pro-Hindus and Pro-India”.

Kamala Harris

Contrary to it, Biden’s deputy, Kamala Harris had proudly flaunted her Indian roots on various occasions and even used the Tamil word ‘Chithi’ to address her aunt during her speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

On India’s Independence Day, a Policy Document released by Biden’s campaign stated that “No common global challenge can be solved without India and the United States working as responsible partners. Together, we will continue strengthening India’s defense and capabilities as a counter-terrorism partner, improving health systems and pandemic response, and deepening cooperation in areas such as higher education, space exploration, and humanitarian relief.”

At a virtual event, Democratic National Committee Chairman, Thomas Perez said that the Indian American Vote made an “absolute difference maker” in the US presidential elections.

Joe Biden Is Likely To Support India’s Bid To Get A Permanent Seat In The UN Security Council

Former American Ambassador to India, Richard Verma felt that Biden will favour India’s entry in security council and his statement comes amid calls from India for reforms of the United Nations, including the Security Council as its current composition doesn’t reflect the current realities.

UNSC – A file pic

The UNSC has 15 members, including five permanent members the US, the UK, France, Russia and China and Beijing is the only permanent member of the UNSC which is opposed to India’s inclusion into the powerful grouping.

China is against India’s inclusion in UNSC. India, along with Mexico and Ireland, has been recently elected a non-permanent member for a two-year term starting January 1, 2021.

Verma said that under Biden’s leadership, India and the US would work together to keep their citizens collectively safe which means standing up against cross-border terrorism and standing with India when its neighbors attempt to change the status quo.

Verma, an Indian-American who was US ambassador to India from 2014 to 2017, joined three other prominent Indian-Americans to make a strong pitch to the Indian Diaspora to support and vote for Biden in the US presidential elections.

Former ambassador was joined by Biden Unity Task Force Economic Policy Advisor, Sonal Shah, former US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy and Centre for American Progress Action Fund CEO, Neera Tanden in their address to a virtual event.

Good News For Pakistan

It is a well known fact that Trump stood with India on several issues like aberration of Article 370 in Kashmir, terrorists activities sponsored by Pakistan, other security issues but Biden may not be so vocal and aggressive in his support, though he is unlikely to deviate from laid principles of American foreign policy.

biden
Asif Ali Zardari, the then President of Pakistan, honouring Joe Biden with ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan’ award.

Pakistan politicians believe that Joe Biden is an old diplomat and has cordial relations with Pakistan, and that is why supporting Pakistan is inherent to him.

In 2008, Pakistan awarded Biden the second-highest civilian honour, ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan.’ Joe Biden and Senator Richard Lugar favoured a proposal to bring $ 1.5 billion non-military aid to Pakistan. Lugar was also awarded ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan’.

According to experts, Pakistan’s foreign policy is being closely monitored, so it is good news for Pakistan of Joe Biden in the White House. Biden can give a new dimension to relations with Pakistan in his foreign policy.

In such a situation, it is expected that relations between Pakistan and the US will be better during Biden’s tenure than they are today and in an optimistic tone, latter can put pressure on former not to sponsor terrorists activities against India.

Regarding Afghanistan and the withdrawal of American military personnel, there may not be any change as countrymen also favour leaving this terrorist nation.

Obama’s Influence On Biden Favours Cementing Ties With India

Experts believe that Modi’s close bonds with Obama may play vital role in Biden’s handling of next 4 years’ foreign policy with important nations like India, which includes acting collectively with friendly countries which were alienated during Trump era, dealing with every nation unilaterally thereby protecting their interests, especially standing with India against China etc.

biden
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Smt. Gursharan Kaur with the US Vice President, Mr. Joe Biden, his wife Dr. Jill Biden and the Secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton at luncheon meeting hosted by the US Vice President at Washington on November 24, 2009.

Biden may not upset the recent defence agreement signed between India and the US. The foundational Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) was signed, which expanded their defence cooperation as visiting Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said that the United States will stand with India as it confronts threats to its sovereignty and liberty.

He also referred to the sacrifice of 20 Indian soldiers who were killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June this year.

External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar said national security convergences have grown between India and US in a more multi-polar world and that the Indo-Pacific region was a particular focus during the 22nd Ministerial Dialogue. He said that discussions also covered developments in “our neighbouring countries” and “We made clear that cross-border terrorism is completely unacceptable”. Jaishankar said that a multi-polar world must have a multi-polar Asia as its base.

Noting that India is now focused on recovery, resilience and reform, Jaishankar said the two countries were also committed to creating a “more trusted resilient global supply chain”.

Peculiar And Tricky To Deal With China

Experts opine that Joe Biden may opt to confront China across the globe, embracing some of Trump’s ideas but rejecting his style and means. But India will always be kept in mind, thereby not upsetting close ties. Taiwan may be feeling tizzy as rapport with China will mean setback to this country, which has been threatened by China of invasion.

While starting a trade war with China, former president Trump fundamentally altered the US-China relationship, and forced both Republicans and Democrats to accept a more confrontational approach towards Beijing.

Biden has mostly accepted the new consensus, but as per his strategy, he’ll be more effective in challenging China by coordinating with allies, instead of doing it alone.“People in Beijing may be nervous about Joe Biden because they recognize that he is going to work with allies,” said Jeffrey Prescott, a Biden adviser.

Joe Biden with China’s President Xi Jinping

Biden has called President Xi Jinping a “thug” and accused China of “genocide” of Uighurs in Xinjiang. Michèle Flournoy, who might head Biden’s Pentagon, suggested in June that the U.S. should have the capability to “to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.”

Biden has also targeted Trump for being “the first American president in three decades who has not met or spoken with His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” and has pledged to meet with Tibet’s spiritual leader as President.

If Trump sees China mainly through a trade and Corona virus lens, Biden views the relationship as multifaceted contest which will determine the international order for several generations. “There’s a technology competition, a military competition, an economic competition, an ideological competition and a diplomatic competition,” said Ely Rattner, a Biden China adviser. “It’s a big task.”

Soft Attitude Of Biden Towards Iran

A Democrat administration is likely to go back to the drawing board on the US-Iran nuclear deal, opening up not just Iranian oil but also strategic space for India with Iran in the Middle East. A Biden-Harris presidency may also look differently at the Paris Agreement, visas for Indian workers, and so on. All things considered, Biden should be good for India, even if he’s less keen to see relations with India in the personalized format that Modi prefers, and see them more as government-to-government relations.

Donald Trump has forced India to not buy cheaper oil from Iran and Venezuela. (Trump thought Modi would not mind) Trump forced India to buy more costly oil and gas from the United States, even pushing for long-term commitments that aren’t viable. Despite the India-China border tensions, Donald Trump has not given India waiver from an American law that threatens sanctions on countries purchasing arms from Russia.

Keeping in view Biden’s diplomacy, he may refrain from Islamophobia encouraged by Trump and avoid isolationist approach, which may be applied to Iran and change the current confrontationist attitude.

India will be benefited with the improvement of ties between United States and Iran, as Trump had forced India not to buy cheap oil and gas from Iran and Venezuela.

As per reports in CNN, Biden said “It has been proven that Trump’s Iran policy is a dangerous failure. At the United Nations, Trump could not rally a single one of America’s closest allies to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran.

Next, Trump tried to unilaterally re-impose UN sanctions on Iran, only to have virtually all the UN security council members unite to reject his gambit. Now there are reports that Iran has stock piled ten times as much uranium as it had when President Barack Obama and I left office.

We urgently need to change course. I have no illusions about the challenges the regime in Iran poses to America’s security interests, to our friends and partners and to its own people. But there is a smart way to be tough on Iran but not Trump’s way. He ignored our closest allies and walked away – alone, without a plan – from a deal that put the world’s eyes and ears inside Iran’s nuclear program and was verifiably blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.”

Trump – Amreican Jumlebaaz

According to critics, Donald Trump will be remembered in United States history for making statements and tweets which were factually wrong, a liar, a jumlebaaz who misguided Americans to serve his political purpose.

Modi and Trump – Jumlebaaz

As per trackers of Twitter, Facebook, CNN, NBS etc, Trump told 22,417 lies in 1316 days, which is a record in itself.

Trump declared his victory and asked authorities to stop the counting of votes, which was contradicted by TV channels. Twitter left Facebook behind in warning Americans about veracity of Trump’s outbursts and asked them to check the truth from CNN, NBS and BBC etc.

None can dare to undertake such cross checking about Indian politicians lies during any poll or even the recent elections in Bihar.

Factors Responsible For Downfall Of Trump

Trump supporters strongly believe that he might have done well had COVID-19 not hit the nation, which has taken 2,43,257 lives. The blame has to be borne by the President, who concealed the gravity of the virus from the beginning, which angered the citizens of US. The China card played by Trump could not work to his advantage as Biden blasted him in presidential debates.

Biden
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

The debates were also marred by Trump’s arrogance, indecency and interruptions whereas his rival Biden was calm, sophisticated and addressed every issue to the nation which worked in his favour in the polls.

A huge loss of jobs and slump in the economy also hit Trump’s chances of re-election as his administration reacted late to the epidemic.

George Floyd’s killing alienated blacks from Trump though he did talk about police reforms. The tax evasion allegations also did not go well with electorates though he tried to defend himself.

Trump Is Not First President Who Has Not Been Re-Elected

The result of United States election 2020 has not surprised many and Trump is not a lone case who failed in his bid to re-enter White House, as there are five presidents in the past. First, President William Taft served as the 27th President of the U.S. between 1909 and 1913. Second, President Herbert Hoover was the 31st President and served between 1929 and 1933.

Namaste Trump – This way out please!

Third, President Gerald Ford served as the 38th president of the United States. Ford came to the presidency as the only person never to be re-elected Vice President or President. Fourth, President Jimmy Carter was the 39th U.S. president, elected in 1976, and serving from 1977 to 1981. Fifth, President George H.W. Bush, the 41st U.S. president, is also known as Bush Sr. to differentiate him from his son, George W. Bush, who won the presidency in 2000, and again in 2004.

Foreign policy experts feel that Biden has experience working with Obama twice as Vice President, which equips him with stability and maturity in dealing with allies and other nations in the world thereby reassuring close friend like India that new incumbent will further cement ties besides thwarting the attempts of China to destabilize our country.

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K S Tomar

K S Tomar

The writer, a senior political analyst, is a former Editor of the Hindustan Times' Rajasthan edition and has spent nearly four decades in journalism, including a six year stint in Nepal where he covered Sino-India-Nepal complex relationship and had a ringside seat to the Himalayan Kingdom's transition into democracy.

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