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U.S. Elections 2016 and India-U.S. Relations
By Dr (Mrs) Satinder Bhatia
| Category: U.S. India Relations

US elections are a much watched event the world over, particularly because of the political and economic power that rests with USA.  Sure, in a dynamic world, power equations can change quickly.  However, the economic might of USA is such that power equations will have to change drastically for them to have a significant impact.  That is why, Mr Donald Trump’s slogan ‘Making America Great Again’ may not be very tenable. 


America is already great, if greatness can be equated with being powerful.  It is a different aspect, however, as to how and where it chooses to exercise its power. India-US relations, though, have remained steady over a long period and in that sense do not seem to be a function of the choices made by those at the helm.  What then brings these countries together?  It is the recognition by USA that India is powerful in its own way, be it regionally, or as a market or as a supplier of talented professionals.  Indian policies and priorities, therefore, affect USA.  And it would be wrong to state that USA can dictate the policies that India frames.  For if that were so, India-US relations would be on very thin ice. 


USA also recognises the political ambitions of India at the global level and supports such ambitions as it recognises that India will have to take on greater responsibilities and be seen to be following agenda that benefit a larger comity of nations than just itself.  A seat at the Security Council for India may, therefore, be seen as a driving force for India to increase its sensitivities on positions taken by other countries at the negotiating table.  Be it climate change issues or issues dealing with FDI or international trade; certainly, the perspectives are likely to get broadened when occupying a seat at the UN.  Whether it is victory for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, this support for India is unlikely to change. 


Similar may be the case with the US support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). All this sends a strong signal that USA trusts India; trusts that it will not misuse its power. Now, China may not repose such trust in India as it has only functioned within the ambit of strictly defined rules.  Trust, though, transcends all these rules and is indicative of permanency in relationships as well as urgency in not just living up to the trust but also making this ‘trust capital’ grow. USA has a large Indian population that is participating much more in the domestic political affairs; again, a maturity of Indians living there and acceptability by USA of the relevance of this community to the economic and political growth of USA. 


Often, in discourses, the term inclusiveness is limited to expanding opportunities in education and banking for the poor; rarely has it meant extending political opportunities to all.  Yet, both countries cannot be complacent that, whatever the compulsions, the relations will always remain trustworthy.  Both countries have to be prepared for a turbulence in the relationship at any future time, though the probability of that today seems very low.  Hence, there has to be a conscious effort on an ongoing basis to identify factors that can cause this turbulence and not be deterred by them. US elections, as mentioned before, are unlikely to cause any turbulence in the relationship but political changes in other countries or between other countries could have the potential to affect India-US relations.  Hillary Clinton may be more watchful of any disturbances and more resolved to keep the relationship with India steady and growing.

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