Only a fortnight separates the world from discovering the fate of November 03 United States Presidential Elections with President Donald Trump contesting for a second term against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who stands in his path of making “America Even Greater”
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While the event could indeed change dynamics of several regions across the world which are led by the likes of Russia, China, Turkey and Iran, Indian leaders will be glued to their television screens having seen ties deepen under Trump’s administration, a sign of which was showcased in Trump’s roaring reception in Ahmedabad back in February.
The biggest conundrum facing New Delhi has been its long ongoing stand-off with China in the snow-capped mountainous terrain of Ladakh, where the two nations share an undemarcated border.
Since the Galwan Valley clash in May, both sides’ militaries have refused to bow down with top diplomats and military commanders from both nations engaging to diffuse tensions without a breakthrough in total disengagements at the Line of Actual Control.
What has been favourable for India is Trump’s bullish approach towards China’s aggression, with his administration making its military presence felt in the South China Sea region in favour of Taiwan as well as in the Indian Ocean, where India is said to be working with the US Navy in blocking the crucial straits of Malacca amid PLA’s misadventures.
However, India might lose the edge with a change in leadership within the United States if Biden ends up becoming the 46th President of what is considered the World’s largest economy.
According to US President’s son Donald Trump Junior, China could end up gaining an edge over India by developing a new partnership with the US under Biden’s leadership.
Trump Jr. who is leading his father’s re-election campaign was speaking to a group of supporters at a public event on Sunday (October 17) in Long Island, New York, when he said that Biden will go soft on China amid corruptions allegations against the Biden family for accepting huge sums of money from China and Russia.
“We have to understand the Chinese threat and no one knows that probably better than Indian-Americans,”
When you look at our opponents in this race… you think the Chinese gave Hunter Biden USD 1.5 billion … because he was a great businessman, or maybe it was because they knew the Bidens could be bought, and therefore expected they will go soft on China.” said Trump Jr.
Trump, who has continued to maintain a strict stance against China both by economic and military means, had himself said that China wants Biden to come to power.
“China would love for us to have an election where Donald Trump lost to sleepy Joe Biden. They would dream (that) they would own our country. If Joe Biden was president, China would rule our country.”
While India will have its own means of dealing with China regardless of a change in leadership in the West, there is another dynamic that comes to play.
While it is busy fighting off Chinese opposition off the right flank in Eastern Ladakh, it might be forced to turn its head towards the other in Kashmir, where it shares a border with Pakistan.
In August of last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shook the political landscape by taking away its northern Jammu and Kashmir’s status as India’s only Muslim majority state by splitting it into two federally-controlled territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, a decision which has been slammed by Pakistan and China.
With Kashmir considered at the heart of the Modi-led government’s global agenda, India has found a confidant in Trump who maintains that he will mediate in helping the country.
“Anything I can do to mediate, anything I can do to help I would do. Kashmir has been a thorn in lots of people’s sides for a long time. There are two sides to every story,” said Trump.
However, what will not be to India’s liking is that potential US President Biden has not been a big fan of the country’s handling of Kashmir along with the much-debated Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the country in 2019.
According to a post titled Joe Biden’s Agenda on Muslim-American Communities on his campaign website – “In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people of Kashmir,”
Joe Biden has been disappointed by the measures that the government of India has taken with the implementation and aftermath of the NRC in Assam and the passage of the CAA into law. These measures are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy.”
While Biden’s possible rise to power has looked far from great for the Asian country currently entangled with China, there might just be a reason for New Delhi to cherish if Trump loses his right to contest for the second term.
India has been hurt by Trump administration’s strict norms introduced for the H-1B visas, which allow US employers within the country to temporarily employ Indian workers in specific occupations.
After signing an executive order which prevented federal agencies from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers mainly those on H-1B visa from hiring, Trump had highlighted his administration’s goal to “hire American”, a move which was labelled as “sudden and harmful” by Biden.
According to Biden’s website, under his administration, there will be a rollback of the visa restrictions which could serve as a welcome call for Indians looking to work in the US.
As the Hindu festival of Navratri begins, Jill and I send our best wishes to all those celebrating in the U.S. and around the world. May good once again triumph over evil — and usher in new beginnings and opportunity for all.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 17, 2020
Only time will tell whether Indians will see “America becoming great again” while shouting their “Namaste Trumps” or welcome Biden alongside Indian origin Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
However, according to Deputy Director at the Asia Program, Michael Kugelman, regardless of who comes to power, India will be given a top priority. “Either candidate would work very well for India. They’re perfectly happy with the policies of this administration,”
Regardless of Biden or Trump in the White House, the relationship with India is going to be a major priority. That’s because there is a very strong bipartisan support for partnership with India, particularly given the US-China rivalry.” said Kugelman