Is India holding a Trump card?

While there is reason to feel a little heady with the US election outcome, one should restrain from going gung ho on this seemingly favourable wind blowing in India’s direction.

AuthorPublished: 10th Nov 2016  8:39 pm

Donald Trump’s upset victory in the US Presidential elections has been described variously as the dawn of a new world order, rise of a silent majority and the emergence of right wing forces in global polity. This was one election that the entire world was watching with a bated breath, and the result at the end of the grueling election process knocked most people out of their wits. For India and Indians, it was two back-to-back bombshells as television channels across the country exploded with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s late Tuesday evening announcement of a war against black money and corruption through demonetisation. The US elections receded to the background for a while as people grappled with the enormity and complexity of the situation. Still nursing a hangover from the currency shot, they were jolted out of their sleep on Wednesday morning with news of Trump’s triumph in the US. The question uppermost in the minds of people was what it would mean to India. For one, the President-elect does seem to have a soft corner for India as against his quite vocal dislike for Pakistan and its staunch ally China. Notwithstanding the fact that Trump has hardly uttered anything of substance on what his foreign policy would look like, he did, on several occasions, speak highly of Modi, describe India as a fantastic investment destination, compliment it for the 7 to 8 per cent growth rate and even went to the extent of saying that only India could check-mate Pakistan. On the other hand, the Republican President-elect had only harsh words for our neighbour, describing it as “the most dangerous country in the world today.” Trump’s tough talk on terrorism matches that of India, making it a common ground to work on. China too is not on his ‘likes’ list though his pitch against that country was linked more to trade than any other issue.

While there is reason to feel a little heady with the US election outcome, one should restrain from going gung ho on this seemingly favourable wind blowing in India’s direction. Remember, Trump has time and again spoken strongly against outsourcing of American jobs to other countries including India, and even went to the extent of sneering at the accent of Indian call centre employees early on during the campaign. And India is home to several US IT majors. Another critical area of concern is Trump’s stand on the vast immigrant population in the US, particularly Mexicans and Muslims, which was perceived to be a major roadblock on his path to the White House. Indian Americans, however, seem to have won him over by throwing their weight behind him, even leading to his famous ‘Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar’ campaign video. So, is Trump good for India? In strategic thinker Brahma Chellaney’s words, “All in all, India should be relieved that he, not Hillary Clinton, will be the next American president.”