What does President-elect Joe Biden mean for India and its relationship with the USA?

Democrat Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the 2020 US presidential election.

Is Donald Trump better for India or Joe Biden?

Biden and India- Background:

Much before he became Vice President in the Barack Obama administration, Biden had advocated a stronger relationship with India.

Biden played an important role, both as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later as Vice President, in systematically deepening strategic engagement with India.

In fact, in 2006, three years before he became the Vice-President of the US, Biden announced his vision for the future of US-India relations: “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States,” he had said.

What was Joe Biden’s contribution during his term as VP in the Obama administration?

  1. The US officially declared its support for India’s membership in a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council.
  2. India was declared a “Major Defense Partner” – a status approved by the US Congress – which made it easier to share advanced and critical technology to India to strengthen defence ties. This was crucial since it was for the first time that any country was given this status, outside of the US’s traditional alliance system.
  3. In August 2016, the two sides signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the first of the three “foundational pacts” for deeper military cooperation.
  4. Cooperation with India to fight terrorism was also strengthened.

How a Biden presidency may affect India’s economy?

  1. On trade, Biden is likely to be less obtrusive than the current Trump administration. In the Trump worldview, trade was a zero-sum game. In other words, a country had to lose for another to gain.
  2. A Biden presidency may also see a renewed push towards a rules-based trading system across the world — instead of outright ad-hocism as was the case under Trump — as well as a move away from the protectionist approach that has been getting strong across the world.
  3. Besides, how a US President looks at the H1-B visa issue, affects the prospects of Indian youth far more than the youth of any other country. Biden is unlikely to view immigrants and workers from India with Trump-like suspicion.
  4. Similarly, India’s exclusion from the US’ Generalized System of Preference could come up for reconsideration under Biden.
  5. The tricky issue of data localization or capping prices of medicines and medical devices — have a better chance of getting towards a resolution as we move away from the radical approach of President Trump to the pragmatism of a Biden presidency.
  6. For an economy such as India, which needs a regular supply of cheap oil to grow fast, a normalization of US-Iran relationship (and lifting of sanctions) would be more than useful.
  7. It is more likely that a Biden administration will help India against China, instead of clubbing the two together.
  8. Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and this may help countries such as India in dealing with the massive challenges — both technical and financial — on this front.

A majority of the Indian-Americans voters have traditionally been seen to support the Democrats; a survey of Asian Americans suggested that 55% of Indian Americans who voted in the 2016 election held a “very unfavorable” to “somewhat unfavorable” view of Trump. The US President has been trying to change this voting pattern.

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

  • It is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • It was signed between Iran and the P5, plus Germany and the EU in 2015.
    • P5 is the five permanent members of the UNSC – US, China, France, Russia, and UK.
  • The deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme.

What is expected under Biden’s presidency?

  • After the election, Mr. Biden has reaffirmed his commitment to the nuclear deal.
  • But he has said that he would seek to extend the restrictions on Iran (15 years, according to the JCPOA).
  • He would also discuss Iran’s “malign” activities in West Asia.
  • This suggests that Mr. Biden would want amendments to the original accord.

How does the future look?

  • The question now is whether Mr. Biden, with an emphasis on diplomacy, would manage to restore the lost trust and be able to revive the deal.
  • It is in everybody’s interest that the nuclear deal is revived.
    • This would not only deny Iran a path to the bomb but also restore some order in the region.
  • Mr. Biden will have to reassert himself and rein in America’s allies from launching more provocative attacks on Iranian regime figures.
  • He must press Iran to return to the terms of the agreement and further talks on the country’s regional activities in return for economic and security assurances.

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