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How do you Think the U.S. Presidential Election Will Impact U.S.-India Relations?
By Sujoy Gupta
| Category: U.S. India Relations

The President of the United States of America is the world’s most powerful individual neither because he presides over the world’s largest economy  representing 22% of global GDP (IMF data) nor because he controls the nation’s near invincible might of arms, but because he enjoys the legitimate democratic mandate of his country’s citizenry. This latter feature is precisely the bulwark of the strong kinship between the United States and India, the world’s largest democracy where both Head of State (the President) and Head of Government (the Prime Minister) hold office with citizens’ majority support. This remarkable congruence of values leads the two countries to be natural allies. This is not a phenomenon of convenience but indeed has stood the test of time for 70 tumultuous years of world history.


In 1947 President Harry S. Truman had earnestly hoped that “our friendship will in the future, as in the past, continue to be expressed in close and fruitful co-operation in international undertakings and in cordiality in our relations.”


Polite words? No! Going fast forward to the present brings us to the U.S.-India  Delhi Declaration of Friendship (2015) where President Barack Obama affirmed: “Reflecting the close ties between our two great democracies, India and the United States agree to elevate our long-standing strategic partnership with a Declaration of Friendship that strengthens and expands the relationship between our two countries. Each step we take to strengthen the relationship is a step towards shaping international security, regional and global peace, prosperity and stability for years to come. Signaling the natural affinity enjoyed by our two nations, this Declaration proclaims a higher level  of trust and coordination that will continue to draw our Governments and people together across the spectrum of human endeavor for a better world.”


Against this backdrop it is self evident the outcome of the U.S. Presidential Election 2016 will impinge strongly on the continuity of the excellent levels of trust, cooperation and collaboration between the United States and India. it is important to remember that successive friendly US Presidents have gone the second mile to stand by India. Both at personal and administrative levels right from the 1950s (Truman, Eisenhower), 60s (JFK, LBJ) to recent times (George W. Bush, Bill Clinton) as well as incumbent President Obama bilateral cordiality has been immense. But America has major roles to play in addressing contemporary political crises encompassing Europe, Asia’s far east, middle-east and western regions and the Indian subcontinent. Given that such crises inevitably touch Indian security interests, a question Indians ask nowadays is whether and how the new President will move to redress these precarious troubles? Specially, where Indian self interest is under threat, will the new President irrespective of her or his party affiliation uphold – or look askance – at its “longstanding strategic partner”?


The impact of the 2016 election is complicated by the apparently diametrically opposite views of the two candidates. Going by data gleaned from public domain, Mr Trump is a realty businessman whose personal investment in India (at Mumbai) is linked with a partner. His pronouncements on India have been brief albeit complimentary. Mrs Clinton, has visited India several times.


Between Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton, one will win, but shall the winner strive to strengthen Indo-U.S. strategic partnership? Expediency rarely fetches lasting value. The latter involves climbing high moral ground. Does either candidate view the realpolitik of Indo-U.S. future relations in this sort of philosophic framework?


Even daring public affairs analysts in India will not hazard an answer!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this contest entry are those of the author and do not reflect the views, positions or policies of the U.S. Government.