The resistance of India-United States relations | Analysis – analysis
When Donald Trump left India after his first visit as president of the United States, what should we do with the two-day show? His trip was only the eighth by an acting American president, but he was also the fourth consecutive president to visit. The increased frequency of presidential trips to India captures the country’s growing importance to the US. UU. And it highlights the continued investments in the bilateral relationship by successive leaders: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi in India; Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump in the United States.
Trump’s visit differed from the previous ones in several ways, especially in the presentation of an important event at a stadium in Gujarat on Monday. The fact that Trump remained in the script while speaking before an audience of more than one lakh, as he did at the Howdy Modi event in Houston last year, was an additional departure from the controversy that often accompanies the president. of the United States in its international commitments. . He hit many of the right notes with his hosts: “The United States loves India – the United States respects India – and the Americans will always be true and loyal friends of the Indian people,” he said. Trump drew contrasts with another great Asian country: “There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation, aggression and a country that seeks to grow by freeing its people and freeing their dreams , and that is India. ” Although he mentioned that his administration was “working with Pakistan to take strong measures against terrorist organizations and militants operating on the border with Pakistan,” he also expressed his hope of “reduced tensions” and “greater stability” in South Asia.
The symbolism, the ceremony, the relationship between the leaders and the political significance naturally received the most attention. Trump arrived in India in an election year, eager to project images of himself addressing large and supportive crowds abroad. He also hoped to appeal to American Indians, who have traditionally supported the Democratic Party. Also in India, the visit assumed political significance, since public opinion polls consistently reflect positive Indian attitudes towards the United States.
But this was also an opportunity to consolidate what is now a substantially richer relationship. The security association India-EE. UU. He witnessed another arms purchase, bringing to seven the number of US military platforms that will appear in the arsenal of India, many of them with components manufactured or assembled in India. In addition, the signing of three important defense cooperation agreements; improved bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral dialogues; and regularized military exercises that involve all three services have solidified the defense relationship in recent years. Coordination on connectivity infrastructure, maritime security, counterterrorism and cybersecurity has increased. Multilateral cooperation, especially in the United Nations Security Council, has improved, as demonstrated after last year’s terrorist attack in Pulwama.
In the economic aspect, the bidirectional trade of goods and services has increased; India is now the eighth largest trading partner of the United States and the United States is the largest in India. The energy trade, in particular, has taken off. The number of Indian students in the United States and the number of active American companies in India have increased. For most technology giants based in the US In the USA, India is now one of its three main customer bases. Indian companies are investing heavily in the USA. UU., As the Indian CEOs highlighted Trump. Meanwhile, Indians have established the largest number of new billion-dollar businesses in the United States founded by immigrants.
The differences persist, as between two countries. But attempts have been made over the past year to reach an accommodation. Concerns about possible US sanctions against India related to the purchase of Russian defense equipment have diminished after the complications arising from the acquisition of similar equipment by Turkey. The consequences of the intense US tensions with Iran have been managed, and India has had time and space to diversify its energy supplies while receiving a waiver of US sanctions for the port project in Chabahar. Many important commercial differences have been overcome, including agriculture and medical care, although new friction points related to digital payments, data localization and electronic commerce have emerged. In Afghanistan, India has supported efforts to improve coordination between the Trump administration and the government in Kabul while both negotiate with the Taliban. With respect to Pakistan, which has experienced a decline in US military assistance, developments in the International Financial Action Task Force suggest new alignments.
Whether or not Trump achieves a reelection in November, these combined gains, both on the positive and the negative side of the ledger, are on which India and the United States can build or consolidate. A priority to move forward will involve finalizing a trade agreement that ends the application of additional tariffs and open trade disputes. Advances in the research and development of the defense and resolution of immigration irritants will also continue to be prominent on the agenda, as well as addressing differences over Russia and improving the regulatory environment for American companies in India. The India-United States relationship has proven resilient amid the immense changes in international politics. The greatest significance of Donald Trump’s visit as president is the indication that this broad trajectory will probably continue, even in circumstances that were once considered highly unlikely.
Dhruva Jaishankar is the director of the United States Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation.
The opinions expressed are personal.