The Trump Anxiety Index: Why India needn’t worry

The spectacular headline-hogging victory of billionaire tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump, who took charge as the 45th president of the US on January 20, has unsettled the global consensus about America’s leadership and position in a conflicted and mutating world order.
Nearly all parts of the world, impacted by the US’ policies directly or indirectly, are speculating feverishly about the ramifications of the Trump presidency. The dominant sentiments are that of anxiety, befuddlement, uncertainty and unpredictability. These disparate worries and apprehensions can be coalesced and crystallised in the Trump Anxiety Index (TIA), which will rise and decrease in proportion to the policy and postures his presidency will adopt towards major cross-cutting issues.
The questions are proliferating by the day, but the Trump anxiety is more pronounced in some countries and regions of the world. On a scale of 1 to 10 on Trump Anxiety Index, China, Mexico and Pakistan will score high, maybe 7-8. By contrast, India scores low, maybe 3-4.
Why India is not so much worried about the Trump presidency? The answer to this all-important question is not all that esoteric. While there is some speculation about a possible reset in India-US relations in some areas, the picture is largely positive and optimistic, and it won’t be an exaggeration to say that there will be more continuity than disruption and potential subversion.
Looking ahead, the picture for India-US relations is largely optimistic, albeit the road ahead is fraught with some challenges and imponderables. Both George Bush Junior and President Obama had raised the bar for what the latter has called “the defining partnership of the 21st century,” and it is now up to President Trump to seize the initiative and leave his indelible imprimatur on this important relationship. Trump’s dream of Making America Again should blend with continued support for India’s rise, the ongoing project of making India great again. The hesitations of history, as PM Modi famously said, are well behind us, and it’s time for the world’s largest democracies to compose a new symphony amid challenges, uncertainty and free-floating anxiety. Read more…

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India-US defence ties flying high: Maritime patrol aircraft on way

In an increasingly fragile and volatile neighbourhood, India is all set to upgrade its arsenal with a host of new high-tech acquisitions. This also comes at a time when the United States is all set to overtake Russia, Israel and France as India’s largest arms supplier with deals worth $10 billion inked since 2007. With Pakistan and China inking some major deals in the recent past, this acceleration in defence relationship with the US is set to boost the modernization of India’s armed forces. It would also help India strengthen its position with volatility increasing in the neighbourhood.
China Factor
One of the major acquisitions is going to be the deal of $1 billion for four P 8I planes that would be used for maritime patrol. This comes in the backdrop of China strengthening its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as a part of its Maritime Silk Road strategy. With recent reports of Chinese submarines docking in Karachi lurking past Indian waters, it has raised alarm bells in the security establishment at New Delhi.
Pentagon and South Block are also set to begin negotiations in the next few days over the proposed $770 million deal for M-777 ultra-light howitzers under which the bulk of 145 artillery guns to be acquired in a government to government deal, will be made in India. This is also in sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, which is expected to spur indigenization of the country’s defence sector.

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Modi-Obama bonding: The new normal high in India-US relations

First-name bonding, “Barack and I.” Tete-a-tete over tea, “chai pe charcha.” Bear hugs, hand-holding and a walk around the rose garden, “chalein saath saath”. Footfalls echo in the memory… Well, one is not talking about puppy love of besotted lovers, but a tightening embrace of the world’s two largest, engaged democracies in an all-embracing agenda whose reverberations are going to be felt in the years to come.
In Delhi’s deepening chill, sparks flew and lit up a moribund nuclear deal and shone a new path of “shared effort, progress for all,” as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama firmed up an ambitious template for re-igniting the defining partnership of the 21st century and walked the talk to deliver substantive outcomes. The new normal in India-US relations, which was construed to mean habituation to sub-optimal engagement, has morphed into the “new normal high.” The big-ticket outcome of the Modi-Obama summit talks on January 25 was not just the nuclear deal, but the decisive shedding of ambivalence and diffidence, which will lead to the interlocking and intermeshing of the two engaged democracies across the full spectrum of economics and geopolitics.
Talking openly, resolving differences, joking with each other, and smiling naturally. This is the way to go for natural partners, and this hopefully should be the new normal high in the India-US relationship. No time for Mr Modi to lose sleep, the deal is done.

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