Hillary Clinton has a mighty force of India origin Americans powering her campaign and funding it, including her closest aide Huma Abedin, whom Bill Clinton called his second daughter. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, whose stint with politics and polls is rather recent, has already wooed a section of Indians and the Indian Americans with his ab ki baar Trump sarkar quip and public display of his new found love for India and Hindus. He has also assured them that they would have the best friend in White House if he is elected president.
While the election heat is at its peak in the US, the debates, campaigns and predictions have garnered much interest in India as well. Here's a look at what the future could hold for India under Clinton and Trump.
Will Clinton go the Obama way?
Hillary Clinton is carrying forward President Barack Obama’s vision and policies, says Milan Vaishnav, senior associate, South Asia programme of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “So her India policy will be largely on the path Obama has cleared.’’ This means that the new engagements in defence cooperation and joint naval exercises would continue and even evolve over time.
Engagements with India would be important to balance the China influence in the subcontinent, though how much hands-on time Clinton invests in the relationship would also depend on the urgency on the subject. Clinton thrives on sorting out emergencies first.
Important breakthroughs that have been made in the climate change accord, which required a lot of give and take between the two countries, and was guided by the rapport Obama had with Narendra Modi, should continue. The US, for instance, has committed to supporting the India initiative on the solar alliance.
The Pakistan angle would also dominate the India engagement. How Clinton balances the two countries remains to be seen. Though the present regime has taken a sympathetic view of the cross boundary terror attacks on India, the move to declare Pakistan a terrorist state fizzled away due to a technical error.
Hillary however is no Obama, and though she may not discard his path, how she treads on it would be different. In the recent decades Indo-US relationships dipped after the nuclear tests India conducted. The US had imposed sanctions on India then. Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband was president at the time.
Trump: A friend or foe?
He’s been saying all the right things about India, right from loving Hindus to commending the 8 per cent growth rate. If only the US had half that growth, he said at a function of Indian Americas recently.
Hindus, however, aren’t the only Indians; this country is as diverse as America claims to be. Trump’s stance on Muslims may not be the best way to begin the India dialogue. There’s a lot more complexity to understanding the country than ensuring his daughter-in-law takes off her footwear before entering a Hindu temple.
Significantly, Trump’s 100 day plan has no mention of India, though on the positive side, it has no anti- India stance either. China features on Trump’s plans, he wants to declare it a money manipulator. So at present there is no India policy, and worse, Trump doesn’t seem to be interested in what happens in Asia, notes Tanvi Madan, director of India Project at Brookings Institute. He thinks China’s dominance in the region is not the US concern, it’s a matter the nearby countries have to deal with, without American involvement.
Again, Trump’s 100 day plan makes it clear he would cancel the billions of dollars the country has committed to UN climate change programmes. This could upset equations with India, which had to withdraw its demand for “historical responsibility’’—an inclusion that would make older polluters like the US pay more for the clean up.
Trump has promised to join forces to fight terror. Will that be Islamic terror alone?