India-US: Continuation of collaboration with India under Biden administration, say experts

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Updated: Jan 20, 2021 2:08 PM

In a few hours, the 46 President of the United States is going to be sworn in. One expects a continuation of security collaboration with India during the Biden administration.

joe biden,kamala harrisOn January 20, 2021, during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in at the West Front of the US capitol. (Photo source: AP)

In a few hours, the 46 President of the United States is going to be sworn in. One expects a continuation of security collaboration with India during the Biden administration. There is a bipartisan consensus that the US cannot manage China alone in the Asia-Pacific. “It would require active collaboration from regional actors such as India, Japan and Australia,” opine experts. On January 20, 2021, during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in at the West Front of the US capitol. Both President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris will be sworn in at 10.30 pm Indian time. The inauguration of the new president is taking place at a time when that country is facing an unprecedented health crisis and protests.

What to look for in the first few days of the new administration?

Dr Bappaditya Mukherjee, a former faculty at the State University of New York, Geneseo shares his views with Financial Express Online:

Indian-Americans in Biden administration

It is noteworthy that the Biden cabinet has a great number of Indian-Americans represented across various departments and agencies of the Federal government. This development is a source of pride for Indians everywhere. However, it would be premature to draw the conclusion that they will influence US policy to become more aligned with India. As a country of immigrants, it is no longer remarkable to find cultural and ethnic diversity in the US government. In particular, the Indian-American community tends to be highly educated holding advanced degrees in technical fields like medicine and engineering. This makes them highly attractive as prospective holders of key posts in any organization. As functionaries in the US government, the incentives and orientation of these Indian-American officials will be guided by the policies favoured by the Biden administration rather than their country of origin.

Biden administration and climate change policy

The Biden administration’s commitment to restoring the US role in global climate change negotiations will be diametrically different than the Trump era. This commitment has been signalled most vividly by the creation of a new climate envoy position on the National Security Council (NSC), the president’s principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters. By all accounts, Biden could not have chosen a more robustly qualified Washington insider than John Kerry for this position. The climate agenda featured prominently in Kerry’s earlier stints as Senator and Secretary of State.

Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU says:

On the issues of trade and climate change: the Biden administration is likely to negotiate with China which will have repercussion for India. China has started sending positive signals to the Biden administration on prospects of negotiations on these two issues. The Biden administration may also seek to revive the multilateral agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a project envisioned by the Obama administration.

The tension between Russia and the US may escalate further: Russia was seen to be supporting the Trump administration, and that has infuriated a dominant section of the liberal establishment in Washington DC. There are no signs that the US will lift sanctions on Russia. If the rift increases further, it would be a tight-rope walk for India given its proximity to Russia.

On the issue of Iran: New Delhi can expect some favourable developments. The Biden administration has indicated dialogues with Iran on the nuclear issue. If sanctions on Iran are lifted, India can begin importing oil from there and re-start its delayed rail and road projects associated with Chabahar.

Liberal institutions will get a fresh lease of life under the new administration. The Biden administration will seek to restore the credibility of the UN, the WHO, Paris climate agreement and the WTO. These institutions are fundamental to global governance. As a committed member of these institutions, India can collaborate proactively with the US and other western countries.

Meanwhile…

The Defense Secretary nominee Gen Lloyd Austin during his confirmation hearing has told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the focus of the incoming Biden Administration is to continue elevating the US’ defence partnership with India. And to

elevate the partnership with India and to further operationalise India’s ”Major Defence Partner” status.

On the Quad: To deepen and broaden the defence cooperation between India and the US through the Quad security dialogue and other regional multilateral engagements,” the nominee has said.

On Pakistan: In his understanding, Pakistan has taken constructive steps to satisfy US requests in support of the Afghanistan peace process and it has also taken steps against anti-Indian groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taeba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. “Although, although this progress is incomplete,” he said.

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