Most analysts are of the opinion that the US policy towards India will not deteriorate with the taking over by the new President, Joe Biden. In fact, in certain areas such as immigration and visa rules, the situation is likely to get better because of the declared policy stand in this regard of the Democratic Party, which wishes to be seen as more inclusive, domestically as well as internationally. The large number of Indian Americans in Biden’s team, beginning of course with Vice President Kamala Harris, may be looked upon as a plus, but not necessarily so in the context of the ‘we know what’s best for India’ attitude amongst many of them.
The area of particular concern is international strategic relationships, as Biden is believed to be soft on China, having among his supporters and financiers many who are that country’s lobbyists. Although, statements have already been made reiterating support for India against China’s belligerence and terror groups, the devil will be in the detail. The future of the Quad will also be in the balance, as Biden may not have the stomach for aggressive posturing. At the same time, Trump’s unwillingness to have US troops interfere in other countries’ internal affairs may be turned around.
There are some factors, however, that cannot change, particularly in the economic sphere. However much China tries, the experience of the past year, especially, has shown the world the folly in making it the primary manufacturing base. The global corporations are wisely looking for alternatives, including setting up bases in India. Biden’s plan to hike the financial stimulus will also boost the general morale of businesses not just in the US, but also in other places. India will need to position itself intelligently to take advantage.
What most businesses require, including domestic industry, is introduction of much needed reforms in India’s economy. It matters little how pro-India the world’s most developed nation becomes – without the ability to receive, there will be little advantage gained. Unfortunately, as has been seen in the case of the farm laws, there are powerful vested interests against such moves. Having identified the weaknesses in the political systems of nations like the US, Canada, the UK, etc., policies can be manipulated against these reforms. Biden’s politics does not have the substance to get past this difficulty, so pro-active measures in India’s favour cannot be expected. It will be left to diplomatic, behind the scenes, moves to influence the US Establishment to improve the situation, but that will take time. Till then, expect nothing dramatic.