India and Biden


U.S. policy may see more consistency without dependence on personalised summits


  • While U.S. Democratic Party contender and former Vice-President Joseph Biden still needs to tie up some loose ends for an official seal to his victory, it is clear that New Delhi is now preparing to work with a new U.S. administration. 
  • The win is a mixed bag for the government. 
  • On the one hand, Mr. Narendra Modi invested considerably in the Trump administration, which included the Houston and Ahmedabad rallies with Mr. Trump, that indicated a virtual endorsement for his re-election. 
  • The External Affairs Minister’s snub to the Democrat-led House Foreign Affairs Committee and the invitation to senior Trump officials, for “2+2” talks just before the U.S. elections, also played into the impression of New Delhi expecting a Trump win. 
  • On the other hand, Mr. Biden, a long-time supporter of the U.S.-India relationship, brings to his presidency both the comfort of his understanding of foreign policy and the promise of future strategic ties. 
  • Foreign policy itself may not be his immediate priority, given the U.S.’s battle with the coronavirus pandemic, and the President-elect’s goal, which he articulated on Sunday, to “heal” rifts in its polity and “restore the soul of America”. 
  • However, it is clear that he will make moves to reverse some of the Trump-era policies.
  • For India, these could include the U.S.’s return to the Paris climate accord, which would help with its energy transformation, and a return to Iran nuclear negotiations, which will facilitate its regional connectivity ambitions. 
  • He is unlikely to reverse the Afghan pull-out and instead might make it a more measured exit. 
  • On China, he is likely to adopt a less confrontational attitude while maintaining a pushback.
  • But these are more likely to be areas of engagement, and New Delhi should be prepared to hold its own in tough conversations on these sensitive issues. 
  • Mr. Biden’s presidency promises a change in leadership style, with broader powers to advisers and process-driven decisions. 
  • His belief in building up U.S. traditional trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific alliances might be at odds with America’s more transactional trends. 
  • No sudden moves such as Mr. Trump’s withdrawal of India’s GSP export status may be expected, and policy consistency is likely to be preferred to a more personalised summit style. 

Way Forward

Above all, as New Delhi prepares to adjust its responses to the new dispensation, it would welcome Mr. Biden’s stated intention to re-energise the multilateral global order, and to restore the U.S.’s position in “leading not by the example of [its] power.

Print Friendly and PDF
blog comments powered by Disqus