Hillary Clinton as US prez will be a massive advantage for India

In addition to her in-depth knowledge about New Delhi-Washington ties, she is also well disposed towards it.

 |  4-minute read |   16-09-2016
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The US presidential elections have entered their last lap.

A little less than two months remain for polling to take place on November 8 to elect the 45th president.

Although the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has garnered a slight lead over her Republican contender Donald Trump, the race is still too close to call.

Democracy is a bit like cricket. The final verdict is not known till the last ball is bowled. And there is still a long time to go before the final vote is cast and counted.

Projections

According to present projections, however, there appears to be a reasonable likelihood of Hillary moving into the White House early next year.

It is useful to recall that bilateral ties have registered a robust, upward trajectory in recent years. This has been possible in part because a bipartisan consensus exists in the US Congress and the administration to strengthen relations with India.

This is evident from the time of Democratic President Bill Clinton's visit to India in March 2000 in the aftermath of the latter's nuclear tests in May 1998 to the signature of the framework agreement on India-US nuclear cooperation during the visit of then PM Manmohan Singh in July 2005.

This led to the India-US nuclear deal in 2008 and grant of one-time, unique waiver by Nuclear Suppliers' Group to India in September 2008.

George W Bush's successor, Barack Obama, a Democrat, described the India-US relationship as the defining partnership of the 21st century. 

Last few years of Obama and advent of the Narendra Modi-led government have witnessed bilateral relations reach uncharted height thus far. Because of this bipartisan consensus, bilateral ties can be expected to grow rapidly, irrespective of who becomes the next US president.

ap734370624141_091616084659.jpg Republican front-runner for US president Donald Trump. (Photo credit: AP)

It would be instructive to analyse what a Hillary presidency could mean for India. The biggest advantage would be that she knows India well, has a large number of friends in the Indian establishment and the Indian community across different cities in the US, and is cognisant of the concerns, interests and position of India on regional and global issues as well as on subjects of terrorism, climate change, relations with Pakistan, China, etc. She will hence hit the ground running.

Knowledge

In addition to her in-depth knowledge about India, she is also well disposed towards it. In fact, it was her visit to India along with her daughter Chelsea in 1995 which proved to be the catalyst for Bill Clinton's 2000 visit, heralding a new era in bilateral ties.

If Trump wins, he too can be expected to support strong relations with India. Bilateral ties today are, however, at a critical juncture. They need careful nurturing.

This might be somewhat difficult for him to administer in the first months of his stewardship. He will need time to familiarise himself with current issues confronting the international security and economic structures.

This delay could prove to be deleterious particularly in view of growing assertiveness and militarisation of China. Also, Trump seems to be impulsive, unpredictable and reckless.

It will hence be risky to hand over the conduct of bilateral ties at this sensitive stage to his inexperienced charge.

Hillary's deep knowledge and understanding about the relentless rise of China, Pakistan's support to terrorism, and dynamic India-US ties would be immensely beneficial in carving out strategies to deal effectively with emerging regional and global challenges.

She has been mindful of India's concerns while dealing with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. In 2011, during her visit to India, she had advised that it was time for India to upgrade its "Look East Policy" to either "Act East" or 'Engage East' policy.

Whether in pursuance of this suggestion or more likely quiet unrelated to this, Modi announced the elevation of the "Look East" to "Act East Policy" during his visit to Naypyidaw in November 2014.

Challenges

If Hillary wins she will be the first woman president to occupy the White House. Bill Clinton will become the first male spouse to become a resident of that historical building.

Bill is known to be a sound strategist whose advice has often been sought by his successors like Bush and Obama. It can be expected that Hillary will consider Bill's views when it comes to policymaking.

Even after demitting office, Bill has stayed in touch with successive Indian PMs who have appreciated his contribution to bilateral ties. His presence in the White House can hence be leveraged to our advantage.

Hillary's presidency will help India seamlessly manoeuvre the transition from Obama's leadership so that bilateral relations continue to be in tested hands.

However, while dealing with China and Pakistan, India will have to enhance its resources politically, militarily and strategically.

Improving relations with the US can provide India with the diplomatic and strategic flexibility to contend with rising challenges in its neighbourhood.

Hillary's presidency is something to look forward to as it will be conducive to taking bilateral relations in strategic, security, defence, innovation, technology, energy, education and myriad other areas to new heights.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read - Why Trump as US president will benefit India

Writer

Ashok Sajjanhar Ashok Sajjanhar @asajjanhar

The writer is secretary, National Foundation for Communal Harmony.

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