Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

[op-ed snap] It’s not yet Howdy, Modi!

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- India-US ties, what are the issues that introduces friction in the ties between the two.

Context

Persistent in their efforts to remake their countries and their engagement with the world, Mr Modi and Mr Trump are shaking up the bilateral ties between the two countries, and the resultant flux could outlive their tenures.

The emergence of both the leaders on similar promises

  • Improvements over the legacy of their predecessors: Both leaders continuously reiterate that their predecessors were incapable of protecting national interest.
    • The compulsion to reframe the national interest: Such premises commits them both to reframe the national interest, and both have articulated it with clarity and force.
    • For instance, Mr Modi, in Houston in September 2019 and Mr Trump in Davos this week, went great lengths to lay out figures that presented their respective regimes as the most effective guardians.
  • Both have cultural and economic agenda: Both dispensations believe that “the people” had been given a raw deal by earlier regimes.
    • Both have a cultural and economic agenda.
    • National awakening: They are now leading a national reawakening, and working hard for the hard-working people.
    • Both believe that cultural nationalism is a force for the good.
    • Securing borders and entry barriers: Both believe that national borders need to be strengthened by stricter monitoring and setting new bars for entry.
    • Renegotiating the treaties: Both leaders try to renegotiate the contract between the union and the States, and between citizens and the state within their respective countries.
    • The supremacy of executive: They assert the supremacy of the executive over the legislature and the judiciary.
    • Shared values: The notion of shared values of India and the U.S. has acquired a whole new meaning under Mr Trump and Mr Modi.

Politics and governance

  • Hopes of status-quo in bilateral relations shattered: It was hoped that the stronger U.S.-India ties- that have autonomous drivers of convergence-would not be impacted by the nationalist politics of these two leaders.
    • But both leaders have been remarkably true to their politics in their governance.
    • Current tumult in the India-US ties: Shared values notwithstanding, national interests as perceived by these leaders have several points of divergence and therein lies in the current tumult in India-U.S. ties.
    • Opposition to the “world order”: Mr Trump has been outspokenly confrontational with the “world order” that he says has worked against American interests.
    • Dismantling the treaties: America under Mr Trump has wrecked treaties such as the Paris climate agreement and institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, disrupting the “rule-based order”.
    • India’s relations with Bangladesh: India’s spirited outreach in the neighbourhood is still playing out. India’s historically warm ties with Bangladesh have been frayed after CAA.
  • India’s ambitions on the global level
  • The seat at the UNSC: India under continues to push for more space for itself in global affairs by seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and membership.
  • NSG membership: India is also pushing for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • The US actions at global levels
    • Expansion of the principle of the pre-emptive strike: America expanded the principle of pre-emptive strike to include the assassination of a senior official of Iran.
    • Renegotiating the treaties: After dismantling the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr Trump forced Mexico and Canada to accede to his demands in a new trade deal.
  • The India-US relations and impact of U.S. relations with other countries
    • Impact on India-US ties: India’s ties with the U.S. are impacted by America’s ties with India’s adversaries and neighbours, China and Pakistan.
    • Hopes of alignment in the Indo-US ties: Mr Trump’s bluster against both had lit hope that there would finally be a near-complete alignment between India and the U.S. on strategy.
    • US-Iran conflict: Despite Mr Trump’s avowed opposition to America’s endless wars in West Asia, the US is going against Iran headlong, which is not in India’s interest.
    • Relations with Gulf Countries: Trump and Mr Modi share a strong bonding with the Gulf Cooperation Council kings, but their courses in the region are diverging.
    • US-Pakistan coming closer once again: The American President’s impatience to get out of Afghanistan has already pushed his administration closer to Pakistan, which is now further necessitated by his adventurist Iran policy.
    • The US disregard for China’s expansionist policies: Mr Trump has been singularly focused on one question-trade. He cares little about China’s expansionism and at any rate that is not a factor in his ties with other Asian countries.

India-US ties- Points of fission

  • On the trade front: Mr Trump has bracketed India and China as two countries that have duped his predecessors to gain undue advantage. Which is far from seeing India as deserving special concessions to counterbalance China as old wisdom demanded.
    • Ending GSP: The US ended India’s status under the World Trade Organization’s Generalized System of Preferences and took other punitive measures.
    • India trying to decrease the trade surplus: By increasing hydrocarbon imports from the U.S., the government is trying to reduce India’s trade surplus.
  • Restrictions on H1-B visa: The US has tightened the restrictions on the H1-B visa which is used by the Indian companies.
  • Decreasing bipartisan support in the US: The mobilisation of Indian diaspora in America by the government has resulted in the inevitable blowback.
    • Diaspora divided and bipartisan support waning: The diaspora has been divided, and the bipartisan support for India is now squandered. Progressive sections on the Democratic side and religious libertarians and evangelicals on the Trump side are both concerned over India’s actions back home.

Conclusion

Partnership with America is critical to India. India must take the steps to align the interest but whenever it diverges India must take measures to minimise its impact on India while furthering its interests.

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