BIDEN-HARRIS 2020: INDIAN EDITION
Implications of the American presidential race for India.
“And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people. For that is what America is about: the people.” - From Joe Biden's Acceptance Speech
It is a known fact that the American elections are one of the most influential events to take place, but the recent events might have been one of the most dramatic ones so far. With Joe Biden and Donald Trump fighting neck to neck at one point, speeches and statements kept coming from both parties in the form of tweets and rallies. With the eventual lead of Biden, it was the Biden-Harris team that finally emerged successful with 290 electoral votes as opposed to Trump’s 214.
While the Presidential drama continues, the world is fast preparing to accept the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris duo to take over the White House in January 2021.
As the United States stands tall as one of the greatest superpowers on the globe right now, it’s political affairs affect every country in a variety of ways. It is crucial to understand how the Biden-Harris team might be beneficial for the future of India and its relations with the USA.
India’s relationship with the Trump Administration, by far, has been bittersweet. Ranging from friendly visits and diplomatic speeches to recent comments calling India “filthy”, the relationship has been highly unpredictable. With Biden coming in, India can expect a much more stable relationship. Kamala Harris’s Indian and Jamaican origins also pave hope for the people belonging to the same ethnicities.
Biden, in his term as Vice-President, has shown strong regard for Indo-US relations and has shown strong faith in India. Various other stances include:
One of the major factors currently in global politics is China. With the intense Border conflict, a lot of India’s international relations are influenced by what stands other countries take on this equation.
In the past, Trump has openly expressed his discontent with China: be it with regards to Covid-19 or trade. Biden is likely to take a more diplomatic route using India as an important ally in pushing back China. Since in the last few years China’s aggressive behaviour has become more evident to the US, there is a somewhat bipartisan consensus amongst the Democrats and the Republicans on China as a strong strategic rival and an emerging threat. Even though Biden has criticized Trump’s approach towards China, Biden's policies for China mainly focus on a more multidimensional approach to the issue with “greater emphasis on alliances and human rights and is less reliant on tariffs and arms sales”.
For India, Biden’s traditionalist approach might help, as allies and partners are important for him. He places his faith in diplomacy and will likely opt for a more pacifist approach.
“A Biden Administration will also work with India to support a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region in which no country, including China, is able to threaten its neighbours with impunity,” his campaign document says.
“Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future. Under a Biden administration, we will never turn our backs on who we are or that which makes us uniquely and proudly American. The United States deserves an immigration policy that reflects our highest values as a nation”, said Biden on the theme of immigration.
Immigration was one of the key topics in all the crucial presidential debates. Hence, Biden’s views on immigration have been in the spotlight all along. Immigration was one of the major concerns for India in the Trump administration, so Biden’s election comes across as a big relief for H1B visa seekers. Since, democrats have a more inclusive and liberal outlook towards immigration, Biden is expected to be softer towards Indian immigrants.
Even though it will be tough for Biden to reverse the rigid rules placed by the Trump administration, he has promised to support family-based immigration, increase the number of visas offered for permanent, work-based immigration, reform the temporary visa system for high-skill, specialty jobs, eliminate the limits on employment-based green cards. He has also promised to restore the naturalisation process for green card holders.
CAA + NRC
When it comes to domestic issues, the Modi government might not get a free pass for its controversial policies. Although some US Congressmen and women had raised red flags on the human rights situation following the revoking of Article 370 and passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act alongside the proposed nationwide NRC, the Trump administration had not taken any actions beyond making some perfunctory statements. But with the democrats in power, the scenario would change drastically.
“In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people of Kashmir. Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the Internet, weaken democracy. Joe Biden has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the National Register of Citizens in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act into law. These measures are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy” says the Biden campaign’s policy paper.
Vice President Kamala Harris had declared in October 2019 that Kashmiris were not alone in the world, and that there was a need “to intervene if the situation demands.”She also supported her Congressional colleague Premila Jayapal when the latter was disinvited from a meeting with Indian External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar.
“As the world’s oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India are bound together by our shared democratic values: fair and free elections, equality under the law, and the freedom of expression and religion. These core principles have endured throughout each of our nations’ histories and will continue to be the source of our strength in the future,” says Biden’s campaign document.
A CONTRARY APPROACH
There are doubts that Joe Biden might go out on a limb for Pakistan and revive the old US-Pakistan ties to hammer India on Kashmir. The pro-Pakistan tilt that some fear is because of remarks made by Biden and other Democratic leaders after India scrapped Kashmir’s special status under article 370.
Climate change is one of the most important discussions globally at the moment. With Trump withdrawing from the Paris agreement, the superpower’s re-entry would prove to be significantly beneficial for India as it stands to gain a lot in terms of leading the efforts. For example, the India-based International Solar Alliance (ISA), which was launched by Modi and Francois Hollande, former president of France, on Nov. 30, 2015. The overarching objective of the ISA is to collectively address key common challenges to the scaling up of solar energy in ISA member countries. India also hopes for investment from the green climate fund in Indian renewable energy initiatives.
Furthermore, Biden lays out an extensive strategy for climate change and environmental justice which would prove as beneficial to the world as whole giving the global environmental efforts a boost.
WALL STREET FRIENDLY TIES
Beginning with the stock market, stocks are likely to surge and be positively impacted. Lack of uncertainty would also add to positive sentiment and approach.
There is also an anticipated change of supply chain which would relocate from China. India stands to gain from such a move. More so, the administration would further push reducing dependence on Chinese products, an idea which India is already in support of.
The Biden administration is likely to continue with the policy of strengthening strategic, trade and economic ties with India. The pharmaceutical sector, in particular, may see profits with the increased government spending on healthcare. Even the IT companies might see relief because of Biden’s proposed future H-1B visa reforms.
Overall, a government of a global superpower such as America which gives priority to diplomacy, democracy and human rights is positive for the world as a whole.