Trump’s new security calculus: India leading power & partner, China chief rival

In US President Donald Trump’s newly-unveiled National Security Strategy (NSS), India is toasted as a leading global power, with Washington flaunting its love for New Delhi and deepening strategic and economic ties with this emerging power. Russia and China are painted as rivals and the US’ top national security threats, which threaten to “challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”
If there is one country which has come out shining in Trump’s “America First” NSS, unveiled in Washington on December 18, it’s India, the world’s most populous democracy and the fastest growing major economy. Seeking to bolster India’s rise, the NSS also backs India’s concerns obliquely on the China-led One Belt One Road project and asks Pakistan to take “decisive action” against terror groups operating from its territory.
Clearly, there is a lot to rejoice for India, but the prospects of adversarial relations with Russia and China presage a conflicted international geopolitical landscape which New Delhi will have to tread cautiously.
Shaping a balanced regional order and curbing China’s assertiveness align with New Delhi’s larger strategic goals, but given its own delicate relationship with China and extensive economic ties New Delhi will have to do a delicate diplomatic juggling act to avoid the impression of joining the US-led China containment design, which has been reinforced by the launch of the Quadrilateral dialogue among leading maritime democracies of the region, including India, US, Japan and Australia.

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Trump Call after Modi’s Triumph in UP elections

The success in recent state elections in India has bolstered the global profile of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with many world leaders, including US President Donald Trump congratulating the 66-year-old Indian leader. Mr Trump called up Mr Modi on March 27 and congratulated him on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s success in recent state elections, including the landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, the Indian state whose population surpasses that of the combined population of Britain, France and Germany.
This was the third telephonic contact between the two leaders – the first two being soon after Trump’s US presidential poll victory in November last year and the second after his formal swearing-in in January this year.
Underlining India’s keenness to sustain the momentum in ties with the US built up during the presidency of George Bush and Barack Obama, India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval made back-to-back visits to Washington.
Mr Trump and Mr Modi had last spoken to each other in January when they discussed the security situation in South and Central Asia. India and the United States will “stand shoulder to shoulder” to fight global terrorism, the White House had said after that interaction.

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Dealing with Trump: India banks on US Congress

With strong bipartisan consensus for developing India-US relations, New Delhi is not worried about the course of this vital relationship under the Donald Trump presidency, and is set to leverage enormous goodwill in the US Congress. At a time when top leaders of Britain, Israel and Japan had rushed to Washington to have a measure of the change of guard in the White House, India is doing the same in a way different from top-down approach.

To begin with, a record number of 27 US Congressmen drawn from both the Democratic and the Republican parties will visit India beginning later this month, reflecting a long-standing bipartisan approach in Washington to further strengthening of relations with New Delhi.

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Mattis-Parrikar talk: US assures India of sustaining momentum in defence ties

Amid anxiety in India over the Trump administration’s H1B visa policy, there is a reassuring note from Washington about sustaining the momentum in burgeoning defence relations between India and the US. Days after US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Secretary James Mattis spoke to his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar and underscored the new administration’s commitment to build upon the transformation in India-US defence relations accomplished in the last few years.
In the first conversation between the two defence ministers since the change of guard in Washington, Secretary Mattis committed to build upon the tremendous progress in bilateral defense cooperation made in recent years, underscoring the strategic importance of the US—India relationship and India’s role in advancing global peace and security,” Pentagon Press Secretary Capt Jeff Davis said in Washington DC on February 8.
On the strategic and security side, the signalling from the Trump administration has been largely positive. In his telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump had assured that the US “considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world.” The two leaders also decided to bolster the partnership between the United States and India in broad areas such as the economy and defense.

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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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Trump signalling: High on India, tough on China

Barely a week before Donald Trump is sworn in as president of the US, there are reassuring signals that while the India-US relations will be scaled up, the incoming administration will be tough on China, creating a new balancing game in the crucial Asia-Pacific region.
Ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, Gen (retd) James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Defence Secretary, has identified building stronger ties with India as of “utmost importance.” Gen. Mattis underlined that if confirmed, he would identify areas where India and the US could further bolster their defence ties. It’s a clear signal from the incoming administration that the transformation of the India-US relationship accomplished during the Obama administration, which culminated in the elevation of India as US’ Major Defence Partner, will not only continue apace, but will scale new frontiers in months to come.
Mattis’ remarks should allay apprehensions of those who felt that the Trump administration will withdraw from an activist role in security of the Asia-Pacific region, leaving the field wide open for China, the region’s powerhouse, to set the agenda. President-elect Trump has already rattled Beijing by his controversial telephone call to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-we, indicating that it won’t be business as usual with China unless the latter is more sensitive and accommodative of the US concerns. If the US were to revise its One China policy, the US-China relations are set to hurtle downhill.
What it all adds up to is that contrary to speculation in some sections, the Trump administration will broadly pursue a recalibrated balancing strategy in Asia-Pacific by continuing to bolster ties with India and Japan while relating to China in a tough no-nonsense manner. These remarks are sure to be resented by the powers-that-be in Beijing which has often accused Washington of following an insidious containment strategy, in league with New Delhi and Tokyo.

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

Shed 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 India.
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 UA 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.

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