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  • 27 February, 2021

  • 8 Min Read

India-U.S. relationship- During the Biden's regime

India-U.S. relationship- During Biden's regime


  • The new U.S. President, Joseph Biden, has spent much of his first month in office changing Mr. Trump’s policies, including reversing the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the World Health Organization, the UN Human Rights Council, and cancelling the “Muslim” ban and other immigration policies, among a slew of other domestic measures through executive orders.

The connect this time

  • Biden is not at present planning to change the course on the push for the Quadrilateral and Indo-Pacific policy.
  • A virtual Quad Ministerial meeting was held that included the Foreign Ministers of Japan and Australia.
  • The State Department spokesperson also revealed plans for an “an overarching memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance health cooperation” which will deal with COVID-19 testing, vaccination and critical drug supplies.
  • Mr. Biden has also lifted the restrictions and caps on a number of visas and green cards .

China on the horizon

  • There is no doubt that China’s aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in early 2020 brought India and the U.S. closer, and galvanised greater military cooperation and intelligence sharing.
  • Malabar Exercises for the Quad and two Quad ministerial meetings were held in the past year.
  • Modi government may have to be more reticent with the Biden administration as it seeks to take on China strategically.
  • For the Biden administration too, which is walking a fine line with statements on the challenge from China as a competitor in areas such as defence, trade and technology, but also the need for cooperation in certain areas such as climate change and where it is in the U.S.’s “interests to do so” .

Areas of collateral damage for India

  • Localisation of production: In Biden’s latest executive order on securing America’s supply chains, he has sought action in areas such as pharmaceuticals where India is a major producer and could be hit if the U.S. insists on localising production.
    • The order is especially significant given that India-Japan-Australia is already working on a trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) to counter their dependence on Chinese goods, which the U.S. is not a part of.
  • Human rights: Human rights is the next area where India and the U.S. could be at odds both on the bilateral front.
    • In the past month, the U.S. administration has weighed in on India’s lifting of the Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir, farmers’ protests and the government’s face-off with Twitter.
    • The U.S. will want India to partner in ensuring human rights in South Asia, particularly given its current term in the UN Security Council.
  • Restraints against NGOs: It is unlikely that the Biden administration will brush away the Modi government’s actions to shut down international agencies — Amnesty, Greenpeace, Compassion International — in the same way as the previous administration did.

Russia bonds, trade concerns

  • S-400 missile systems: Other areas of possible discord will be over India’s ties with Russia, in particular the arrival of the S-400 missile systems which will attract sanctions under the U.S.’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
    • Mr. Biden’s administration will seek to implement the law more stringently, calling it a “powerful tool” in its dealings with Turkey on the S-400 purchase and the Nord Stream2 pipeline project from Russia.
  • GSP status: India is still hopeful of reversing the U.S. decision to cancel its GSP status for exports.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

  • On Afghanistan, New Delhi has charted an independent course from the U.S., standing firmly with the Ashraf Ghani government and resolutely refusing to engage the Taliban.
  • This is pragmatic, but it also means the U.S. will continue to see India as “not part of the problem, not part of the solution”, and seek more support from Pakistan to facilitate its exit.
  • In particular, the U.S.’s pre-Trump formulations that conflate peace in Kashmir in order to help its desired outcomes in Afghanistan, as its recent statement on the India-Pakistan LoC ceasefire shows, will become a sore point for New Delhi.

Source: TH

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