By Parth Gupta
Yes, despite being harsh, the world (excluding Russia) will have to acknowledge the reality of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. He was the most controversial candidates for the post, and his journey was utterly unforeseen. He was shunned by his own party leaders, performed poorly in the presidential debates and made atrocious statements against minorities, women and the LGBTQ community. But somehow, he still managed to pull off an abrupt victory. His presidency commenced with violent protests and calls for impeachment. Trump will take over a relatively stable economy and is all set to alter world economy and politics, and India is driven to monitor what connections it can draw from the new policies and agreements.
President Trump’s policies
In his inaugural speech, Trump said the country would follow two simple rules; “buy American and hire American”, thus signaling his strategy to protect American workers with changes in the H-1B visa program. The world’s largest economy has been a hub for professionals seeking employment, especially for Indian firms outsourcing services worth $108 billion. The new churn up is envisioned to be painful for entry level job seekers since Trump has moved for a raise in the minimum wage limit required to gain an H-1B visa. Therefore, professionals earning more than what is required to procure an H-1B visa are not expected to be swayed by the new policy.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) spent $21 million on Family Planning and Reproductive Health in India in 2015 itself.[/su_pullquote]
President Trump has reinstated the Global Gag policy which bans funding to non-governmental foreign organizations, thus prohibiting investments in abortion-related healthcare in other countries. The Global Gag policy was introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and has been a teeter-totter affair since then, with Republican presidents reconstituting the policy and the Democrats repealing it. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) spent $21 million on Family Planning and Reproductive Health in India in 2015 itself. If the funding is taken out of play, there will be fallouts nobody would’ve thought of.Against TPP | Photo Courtesy: Hindustan Times
President Trump had roasted The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that aims for affiliating countries accounting for more than 40% of the world’s GDP. The TPP is believed to be directed against China and India. It compels its partners to join the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), outlaws child labor and forced labor, encloses environmental commitments, accords intellectual property rights (trademarks, copyrights and patents), and, the most important from India’s perspective, emphasizes the maintenance of standards. Anything imported to the partner countries will be subject to a range of technical, mechanical, and sanitary standards. Many countries (including India) have understandably resisted international moves to upgrade the standards of goods and services that are being traded across the border. The TPP, after its ratification, would’ve hurt India’s exports to TPP members due to its inability to meet these higher standards. India would also face problems in exporting its produce to countries striving to meet the benchmarks of the TPP. Now, Since the US has signed a memorandum confirming its withdrawal from the TPP, India will be at ease regarding its concerns over the potential demise of its trade deals with Europe, Japan and the USA.
Trump on China, Pakistan and India
One major issue in the USA presently is the loss of five million manufacturing jobs over the past 15 years, mainly to China because of its competence in producing goods at lower costs. U.S. based companies cart raw material to China because of the lower assembly cost there, and finished goods are shipped back to the USA as imports. The USA’s trade deficit with China was a record-breaking $367 billion in 2015. The new administration has promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. through a combination of tariff and non-tariff barriers. These barriers would result in the loss of millions of jobs in China and could lead to a period of recession, potentially sparking political unrest. In light of the recent lows in India-China relations over disputed territories, China’s loss is India’s gain.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]As a matter of fact, Pakistan has swallowed US aid of more than $30 billion since 2002 pretending to fight terrorism.[/su_pullquote]
While President Trump was campaigning, he had declared Pakistan as an unstable and volatile country decked with nukes and leaders who weren’t responsible enough to administer them, and declared India as a “check to Pakistan”. This statement sets a completely different tone as none of the U.S. Presidents in the recent past have taken a definite stance towards the India-Pakistan issue. Former President Barack Obama signaled some involvement during his first term but ultimately stood strong on the long-standing U.S. policy of “encouraging both sides to improve bilateral relations.” As a matter of fact, Pakistan has swallowed US aid of more than $30 billion since 2002 pretending to fight terrorism. Trump has explicitly declared Pakistan as “a problem in Asia” and India “a solution to the problem”. There are also high chances he might threaten to cut US aid.
Trump administration’s National Security Adviser, Lieutenant General (rtd) Michael T Flynn, in his book The Field of Fight, has written, “Countries like Pakistan need to be told that we will not tolerate the existence of training camps and safe havens for Taliban, Haqqani, and al-Qaeda forces on their territory, nor will we permit their banks and other financial institutions to move illicit funds for the terror network.”
But being “The Trump” Donald is, he is expected to blow and wander from his claims to hang up and chain Pakistan.
So, President Trump’s policies towards the Indo-Pakistan issue are yet to be brought to light. With the recent executive order to ban travellers from seven countries, all of them being Islamic states, all eyes are on Pakistan, which is a contender for a similar ban. Pakistan may also face economic sanctions, which can indirectly affect China, with pressure building on the Nawaz Sharif government to pull out from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which was declared in April 2015 during President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Pakistan.Is Trump really good for India? | Photo Courtesy: Quartz
As the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump had regarded Prime Minister Modi as the person who has united India and called the PM to discuss “opportunities to strengthen the partnership in broad areas such as the economy and defense” only four days after his inauguration. One issue which can put the transforming Indo-US relations in a ditch would be India’s long-standing ambition to seize a permanent membership in the UNSC.
Although this issue had the full backing of President Obama, Trump’s White House Press Secretary escaped a synonymous inquiry at his briefing, replying, “I am not going to get any further with getting seats on the Security Council.” But as the thumb rule of politics suggests, people who aren’t in the government seem to have all the answers about policies, and when they form the government, they’re confronted with the realities and complexities of handling international affairs. There are a wide range of themes on which Indo-US relations can pace and march-up, but when there will be a conflict of views, India shouldn’t expect any room for negotiations with the Trump administration.
Featured image source: The Economic Times
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