India watches Trump's take over with mix of hopes, uncertainties

Last Modified Friday, 20 January 2017 (15:16 IST)
New Delhi: As takes over the baton of US leadership as its 45th President from today at a ceremony at Capitol Hill, which is going to be marked as much by jubilations as by protests, India is watching the beginning this new phase of American history with a mix of hopes and uncertainties. What would be the fate of millions of unauthorised Indian immigrants in the US, the impact of proposed changes in norms on Indian IT professionals, and how Mr Trump would deal with Pakistan are some of the immediate concerns in India apart from the shape of his relations with and which would ultimately impinge upon India’s geopolitical interests in its neighborhood.

Former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal says there was of course an atmosphere of uncertainty over Mr Trump’s policies regarding India and the region as his own nominees to key posts had been giving statements that contradicted the line taken by Mr Trump. Nevertheless, there was some indication that he wanted to improve ties with Russia, and that might be good for India because Russia was being pushed into China’s arm because of the European and US pressure, he said talking to UNI. 'This scenario was having a bearing on our strategic position vis a vis Pakistan,' he said. It has to be seen what Mr Trump does with Russia to contain terror, especially ISIS, and the Haqqani and other terrorist network in Pakistan, he said. Mr Trump was going to increase pressure on China whether whether it be in regard to trade or the South China sea—which would ultimately be in India’s interest, the former Foreign secretary said.
He also pointed out that President Obama has set very high standards of international trade , but the process might slow down under Mr Trump who was anti-trade, which would give India some breathing time to catch up. Mr Obama’s proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnerhsip Agreement(TPP) aimed at Asian partners of US would have allowed the US to impose higher labour, environmental and human rights standards, but Mr Trump says he plans to scrap the Pact. Mr Sibal says that there was nothing additional to be feared about regarding tightening of norms for H1 B visa as it was under the Obama Administration itself that the proposal came up. US watcher and senior fellow at Vivekanand International Foundation Harinder Sikhon says not much could be said with certainty at this stage on the course India-Us relations would take under Mr Trump, especially as seen in comparison with the Obama legacy.
Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama built on the legacy of George Bush, who gave India the nuclear deal which was the high-point of Indo-US relationship,she said. When Mr Obama came in 2008, India was not very much on his mind, as he was more occupied with Pakistan and Afghanistan and China. However, by 2011 President Obama did a course correction and realised the place India had in the regional and global scheme of things, said Ms Sikhon. He wanted India to be a 'lynch pin' of its Asia Pacific policy (a term which India , however,did not like) and recognised India as a very positive contributor to peace and stability in the region.
The importance of India in Mr Obama’s scheme of things could be gauged by the number of Summit meetings he had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his two visits to India, in a first ever by any American President, Ms Sikhon siads. However, she notes some areas of concern for India which Mr Obama did not address—like the China-Pakistan Economic Corrridor which passes through the Indian territory, which, as of now, was not certain t Mr Trump will do anything to address. Initially, he described Pakistan as an epicentre of terrorism, but after being elected, it has to be seen how he would be acting on Pakistan on this count, she said. On the economic fronts—on issues like access of Indian drugs to American market, IPR, and bilateral investment treaty , issues remain still unresolved, and given Mr Trumps’ protectionist pronouncements, any immediate solution did not seem to be in sight, she said. (UNI)