Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the 2020 US presidential election, and like most President’s past, will bring his own policies, ideas, and nuances to the table.
But the larger question remains for Indians; what does this win mean for India?
Even before he took as Barack Obama’s deputy, Biden advocated a stronger, more strategic engagement with India. Even as early as 2006, Biden publicly stated that, “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States,” he had said.
Joe Biden, the Vice President
Even as Democrats and Republicans dithered on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Biden’s bipartisan work ensured the approval of the nuclear deal in the US Congress in 2008. Around that time, the US officially declared its support for India’s membership aspirations in the United Nations Security Council, and it was during Obama and Biden’s term at the helm that this key demand of successive Indian governments was fulfilled.
It was also on their watch that India was named as a “Major Defense Partner”, the first time that any country was given this status, outside of the US’s traditional alliances, further underlining India’s strategic importance.
The pall of terrorism
As the threat of terrorism loomed large across the globe, Obama and Biden worked closely with India on this vital front. The belief is that the zero tolerance of terrorism that has historically been true will be continued, as also a continuance of past policies on India-Pakistan bugbear of cross-border terrorism.
China in focus
China’s aggression has seen it emerge as a strategic threat in the region, with Washington being wary of Beijing. New Delhi would expect a continuance of the vocal support of India in its border-stand-off with China, as voiced by the Trump administration.
However, one can expect a more measured, controlled tone from Biden, as seen in his campaign manifesto, where it is said, “A Biden Administration will also work with India to support a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region in which no country, including China, is able to threaten its neighbours with impunity”.
On immigration and H1-B visas
The issue of visa issuances emerged as a burning topic, and as Democrats are seen as more liberal, an easing of norms could be expected under Biden. However, it remains to be seen how much the controls imposed by the Trump presidency could be relaxed, if at all.
While Modi and Trump’s friendship splashed all over the news, Trump has also lashed out at Indian trade policies and dubbed them “unfair”. Again, Biden’s stance as more dove than hawk will likely mean a multi-faceted, and potentially more favourable trade policy for India.
Key international agreements
Trump pulled the plug on the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, which Biden promised to reverse. If there is indeed a volte-face on Iran, it will give India access to cheaper oil.
And with Biden promising to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement on day one of his presidency, India could again stand to gain by way of leading these global efforts. Initiatives such as the India-based International Solar Alliance (ISA) could gain greater prominence, scaling up India’s profile and fortifying its green ambitions and credentials.
So, what does all this mean?
No matter their policies, every US President over the last decade has looked to build a stronger relationship with India. The philosophies will of course alter from administration to administration, but one can believe Joe Biden’s presidency to be similarly favourable for India.