Joe Biden And India

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Why Biden’s presidency holds significance for our country

FOR India, Joe Biden finally taking over the White House is significant in several ways. First, it breaks up the pair of Trump and Modi. Both were seen as near-identical epitomes of uncompromising belligerence against “excess of democracy.” In their speeches both vehemently attacked the idea of “privileges” to minorities – racial minorities in America and religious minorities in India – saying it amounted to reverse discrimination against the majority and fostering parasitism in the minorities. Trump and Modi together seemed like a part of a worldwide trend of the masses getting sucked into the cult of tough and illiberal rulers. With the coming of Joe Biden, the political opposition and the critics of Modi in the intelligentsia and the masses across India could possibly shed some of their pessimism. If the change has happened in America, they might think, it might happen in India someday too.

The second reason why Joe Biden’s presidency is important for India is the influence it will have on democracy in India. Trump stretched his dislike for excess of political liberalism to contempt for democratic institutions, so much so that he incited storming of the US Capitol when the two houses were considering confirmation of the presidential election results, which he had been trashing without any legal or rational grounds. Under Joe Biden, democracy is bound to come out of the deep pit in which Trump flung it with a vengeance. Democracy will demand to be made stronger in the US in order to restrain and deter a future Trump from molesting and persecuting it – and Joe Biden will have to become its instrument. And if democracy demands stronger defences and safeguards to be built in the US, democracy can feel less vulnerable in India.

The third reason why Joe Biden’s presidency holds significance for India is the value it has added to the nation’s cultural pride. Kamala Harris has become not only the first person of Indian origin to assume the office of US vice presidency but the first woman to do so. The Indian Americans make not more than 1 percent of the US population, so to have one of them rising to the post of US Vice President purely on the strength of her merit is seen as nothing short of a glorious accomplishment that is shared by the Indians in US and people of India alike.

Fourthly, Indian professionals, especially in the IT industry, are going to feel better as the highly restrictive regime of Trump has passed, and Joe Biden promises to make work visas easier for them. Unlike Trump, Biden is going to be considerate and accommodative to the demands of the ethnic and religious minorities, including both Indians and Indian Americans. With a more liberal regime, Indian IT and other companies can hope to expand their footprint in the US.

Fifthly, India’s strategic partnership with the US for the containment of China will get further boost with Joe Biden’s presidency. It was during the Obama years that India and the US fine-tuned the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’ and Biden is expected to continue the legacy with a greater zeal and focus. Indo-Pacific covers the region between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, a region that includes Japan, Australia and the countries of Southeast Asia such as Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. This is an area in which China has been expanding its economic and strategic influence. This is a theatre of international politics India has not been strategically deeply engaged in before.

India’s strategic concerns have been largely restricted for years to South Asia subcontinent. But with its rising economic power it wants to build its strategic influence on a wider footprint and sees an opportunity in the Indo-Pacific region. The US, Japan and Australia have been working to deepen their strategic alliance with India in the Indo-Pacific region to contain China’s rise. Trump was not very consistent in doing this. He sometimes took positions and made statements that hurt the allies. Yet even Trump helped India during its recent LAC standoff against China by providing it satellite information and extreme weather clothing for soldiers. Joe Biden is expected to add greater values to the US-India strategic partnership.