The real significance of the Biden win


Recently, Joe Biden was elected 46th President of the United States and now the concern is on US-India relations of this new era.



  • India will remain a potential ally in a troubled neighborhood (China), defence and counter-terrorism cooperation will continue as will trade negotiations, and there will be greater potential for cooperation on climate change.
  • There will be little overall change and what there is might be marginally beneficial than the ties with trump.


Background of India US relations

During the times of


  • The first breakthroughs came during the Clinton-Vajpayee years, but they were in the nature of ‘getting to know each other’.
  • Not so major breakthroughs.
  • Just a few talks.
  • Bill Clinton was eager but India’s traditional caution, coupled with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s long silences, baffled U.S. policymakers.



  • Manmohan Singh’s willingness to visit the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement made U.S. policymakers baffled.
  • The Bush administration depended on Pakistani cooperation for its war in Afghanistan, and India’s importance was mostly as a key to pressure Pakistan.
  • The chief progress was in trade, and it was considerable, with U.S.-India trade hitting close to $40 billion.


Obama era(2009-2014):

  • U.S.-India trade nearly doubled. 
  • The U.S. agreed on a strategic partnership with India, supported India for permanent membership of the UN Security Council and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • Helped it become a member of the East Asia summit, promoted Indian engagement in Afghanistan and opening to Central Asia, encouraged the European Union to engage more closely with India, and strengthened military to military ties in the Indo-Pacific region.


Modi Era(2014-2019):

  • Chinese intrusions into Ladakh, arguably the gravest security threat to India since the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
  • The U.S. military will continue such important symbolic gestures as joint exercises with the Indian military, few U.S. strategists see India as a major security asset in Asia. 
  • Even trade, though it continued to grow between 2014-2019, grew at a slower rate than in the preceding five years.


Way forward

Our judiciary and media can draw their own lessons from the U.S. example, where so many State-level courts and the national media fought back against Mr. Trump’s attempts to cow them. They paved the way for this election result. And for those of us members of civil society who care, here is the comforting Biden-Harris message: all is not lost, it never can be. Maybe Bihar will reinforce the point.

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