No Trump worry, US envoy says India-US ties will be on upswing

us-envoy-functionShed Trump anxiety; India-US relations will be on an upswing. This was the reassuring message from US envoy Richard Verma amid ripples of worries in some sections in India about what the incoming Trump presidency will bring for the country.

Alluding to an all-round transformation of India-US relations in the last two years, Mr Verma, the first Indian-American to be appointed as the US ambassador to India, underlined that the US will continue to support India’s rise and will be New Delhi’s closest partner in months to come. “India is a country on the rise. We will support India’s rise and continue to be your closest partner,” the US envoy told an audience of diplomats, businessmen and journalists at a luxury hotel in the Indian capital on December 6. He was speaking at an interaction organised by industry body CII and Indo-American Friendship Association.

Providing a snapshot of the dramatic upsurge in the India-US relations, Mr Verma projected that “this upward trajectory will continue.”

Allaying apprehensions about any possible diminution of commitment by the Trump administration towards India, the envoy argued that the momentum in the India-US strategic partnership will continue as there is widespread bipartisan consensus across the political spectrum in Washington. He underscored that the 365-member India Caucus is the single largest such grouping in the US Congress, which is dedicated to developing the India-US relations. Referring to kindred value systems of the world’s leading democracies, home to 1.6 billion people, the envoy said that India and the US will continue to work together to ensure that the world is a safer and more prosperous place.

trump-indiaThe shock victory of flamboyant property magnate-turned-politician Donald Trump in the November 8 US presidential polls has triggered concerns across the world about how his policies will impinge on different regions and countries. In India, these worries have mostly focused on Trump’s stance towards H1B visas, which could adversely impact India’s IT industry. In his campaign speeches, Mr Trump had said that he will scrap all H-1B visas, a pronouncement that triggered much anxiety among India’s IT majors operating in the US. Trump has also threatened a 15% tax on US companies for outsourcing jobs to places like India. If Trump goes ahead with this poll pitch, it would mean a huge loss for Indian IT companies as they provide IT software services worth around $50 billion to the US alone.

During his campaign, Mr Trump had, however, spoken in favourable terms about India and said that if elected, the Indian community and Hindus will have a true friend in the White House.

The turnaround in the India-US relations is evident from latest statistics: bilateral trade has gone up to $108 billion, with agricultural trade accounting for $6 billion. People-to-people ties are growing by the day, with the US issuing 1.1 million visas to Indians last year. The US declared India as a major defence partner during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June this year.

India is carefully watching the complexion of the evolving Trump administration and has some apprehensions, but is inclined to back the US envoy’s optimism that the upward trajectory in, what US President Barack Obama has called “the defining partnership of the 21st century,” will continue.

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