By Vishal Kale
The election of Trump as POTUS had got the right wing in India into a celebratory mode; there were hopes of this event having a positive impetus on the Indo-US relationship. This hope was, at the outset, a wildly optimistic hope, given that Trump was elected on a protectionist rhetoric, a message of bringing jobs back to the USA; this was, however, ignored in the larger light of his views on terrorism as well as other factors, which seemed to indicate good tidings.
THE EARLY INDICATORS
In the approximately 100-odd days since his taking over as POTUS, early indicators have given enough reason for the more optimistic among us Indians to become far more realistic. Trump as a President has done exactly as he had promised – which is admittedly a surprise to many. Frankly, on one side, it is good to see a politician walking the talk in the USA. But that said, the other side of the equation has given rise to many deep-rooted questions which need to be addressed.
WHY THE HOPE?
This rising hope of a ‘Good Trump for India’ was primarily based on two things. The first was the expected hardline anti-Pakistan strategy; this made the avid followers in India pay little to no heed on his economic policies, and their impact on India. The second thing was an expectation of better ties on the basis of a congenial geopolitical approach. The sum of these expectations were high hopes on a pro-India stance.
His focus has been on creating jobs or rather creating an America for the Americans, a thought which has turned out to be fruitful for the Americans. But, it has come at a cost. In a connected world, if tossing a coin brings up heads for one it undoubtedly brings up tails for the other i.e., as factors of production are related, money flows easily across continents. In the present scenario, more jobs in America means lesser jobs in India, as visa rules tighten up, and Indian companies are forced to invest in the USA not just in infrastructure but in hiring as well. This means, as per at least one article, loss of jobs in India, to the ratio of 4:1 as a result of manufacturing facilities, development centers and ITs shifting base to the USA.
From this one example alone, it can be seen that the coming of Trump is not really as great a thing for us Indians as was expected, at least not in the business atmosphere. Now whether it is entirely a bad thing remains to be seen; just because it isn’t good doesn’t automatically mean it is bad. It depends on a variety of sectors as well as on our response on the diplomatic and business fronts. That is something that we shall see in the near future.
Having said that, there are early indicators of rising stress in some other areas as well, where disputes are pending, or where the Trump administration is showing signs of toughness. For instance–
- The US government has reduced taxes levied on startups and corporates (corporate taxes), which might cause ever-increasing investment decision to go to the USA as the cost factor of investing in emerging economies gets balanced out;
- The continuing solar dispute shows no signs of abating;
- The USA reviewing nations with which it has a trade deficit is another area of potentially rising stress. Note that early last month, the Trump administration launched a 90-day investigation of countries, including India, against which the US runs a bilateral trade deficit. The rising pressure to export more to India from the USA is bound to cause distortions in various areas.
This trend of moves that have the potential to disturb India doesn’t stop at trade. It extends to the geopolitical and strategic levels as well, where there is a lot more clarity needed on direction as on date. So far, the USA has not only shown zero indication of acting against Pakistan, it has in fact done the reverse, trying to re-hyphenate India-Pakistan, offering to intervene in our bilateral matters. More recently, it gave indications of cutting aid to India, while keeping Pakistan untouched. Its ever-increasing approach and tilt towards China is another geopolitical aspect that needs to be factored in.
Putting it all together brings forward the daunting reality. India & USA are as far apart as they were before; yes, there are possibilities of great relations, a potential which was absent earlier. But the very real differences in worldview, economic realities and priorities, internal realities, and geopolitical differences mean that we need to keep our eyes peeled, and our options open; we need to ensure our interests are protected. And this is where the right-wing can help by stopping the rhetoric. For now, there is enough reason for us to be realistic, and to stop eulogizing Trump and the USA.
Featured Image Credit: Medium Corporation US
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