The excitement around the nomination of Kamala Harris as the Vice-presidential candidate of the U.S. is clear in several parts of India as placards lining the road to her ancestral village display her photograph captioned “Singa Pennae” meaning “Lioness”. Her family is confident of her win as the first Black and Asian-American woman to the post of the Vice-president. Recently India has moved closer to the U.S., thanks to the close ties of India’s PM Narendra Modi and the current American President Donald Trump.
Harris’ maternal uncle Gopalan Balachandran said, “Indians love drama, which explains Donald Trump’s popularity in India. But I’m confident that she will be equally popular.”
The Trump-Modi bond had resulted in two huge stadium events with tens of thousands of supporters. While the trade relations between India and the U.S. are yet to be clear and smooth, India has expanded the purchase of ammunition from the U.S. and aligned more openly with the U.S. against China. The Modi government has been backed by the Trump administration during the Indo-China clashes at the disputed Himalayan border in June this year. India also is a part of the Quad, or a regional grouping against China that has the U.S., Japan and Australia. India has also been made a key part of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
If the Trump administration is replaced by the Biden- Harris duo in the White House, we can expect the Indo-American relations to remain intact. “I don’t think there will be a substantial shift in the importance that Washington has for India- that will remain”, said Amitabh Mattoo, a former member of the National Security Council Advisory Board of India. A spokesperson from the Harris-Biden campaign said that Biden plans to place “a high priority on continuing to strengthen the U.S.-India relationship.”
The India-U.S. ties have developed under previous Democratic administrations as President Bill Clinton sought to develop the stronger bilateral relationship and during the George W. Bush administration, Biden had helped pilot the civil nuclear cooperation with India in the American Senate. The Indo-American relationship had soured in 2013 after the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York but ties were mended soon after Modi’s election to the seat of the PM of India. Under Donald Trump, the trade relations between the two countries were discussed but controversial and political issues like public demonstrations against the Citizenship Act in India was ignored. Trump had also offered to “mediate” between the India-Pakistan clashes in Kashmir after the autonomy of Kashmir was ended in a messy procedure.
More concerns about the actions of Modi have been raised by Kamala Harris. In September 2019 during her campaign, she had said, “We have to remind Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world.” A campaign policy paper of Biden that addressed the Muslim community in the U.S. criticized Modi government over the CAA dispute and the Kashmir issue. As per another statement, the U.S. would stand by India in confronting any threats faced by the country along its borders.
Let’s hope we develop a global spirit and approach to national issues.