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India-US relation under Biden administration

Synopsis: India and US relations under the Biden administration may strengthen in certain areas. But there will be some challenges too.

Areas where India and the US are willing to cooperate?

India and the US are already engaging each other on a majority of issues, including  COVID-19, climate, health care, immigration and restoring America’s global standing. For example,

  • Like previous leaderships, the Biden government also want to build closer ties with India. A major focus is on the push for the Quadrilateral and Indo-Pacific policy.
  • Recently, the US praised India’s efforts towards renewable energy and controlling emissions.
  • Also, the US has revealed its plans to enhance health cooperation through a memorandum of understanding (MoU). It is likely to deal with COVID-19 testing, vaccination and critical drug supplies.
  • Biden’s decision to lift restrictions and caps on a number of visas and green cards has relieved India.

Areas where US interest will affect India’?

The change in the Presidency in the US will have the following implications over India.

Factoring China:

  • During the Trump presidency, China’s aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in early 2020 brought India and the U.S. closer.
  • America provided “moral and material support” to India through greater military cooperation, intelligence sharing etc.,
  • Even, India gave up its hesitancy over holding the Quad. India participated in two Quad ministerial meetings in the past year.
  • However, at present, this cooperation is likely to change. It is because the Biden administration wants to take on China strategically.
  • The Biden administration sees China as a competitor in areas such as defence, trade and technology. However, it is also pushing for cooperation in certain areas such as climate change.
  • Thus, unlike Trump years, India won’t have greater support from the US on the China issue.

Impact on India’s Pharmaceutical Industry:

  • Biden wants to secure America’s supply chains. For Instance, he is insisting on localizing the production of pharmaceuticals. It will affect India, as it is a major exporter of pharma.
  • This move will also hit the India-Japan-Australia trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) to counter their dependence on Chinese goods. Now with the US localizing, the benefits of this initiative will be lesser. 

Human rights issue between India and the US:

  • The US has stated that the “shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the U.S.-India relationship”.
  • Thus, the US has been vocal against crackdowns on freedom of speech in India. For example, the Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir, farmers’ protests and the government’s face-off with Twitter.
  • Also, India’s actions to shut down international agencies Amnesty, Greenpeace, Compassion International will be dealt with strictly, by the U.S.
  • Further, the U.S. will want India’s cooperation in ensuring human rights in South Asia. It is most likely given India’s current term in the UN Security Council. However, ensuring cooperation on Human Rights will affect India’s neighbourhood relation. For instance,
    • If India takes a hard stance against the coup in Myanmar it will affect India’s interests in the region.
    • Similarly, Sri Lanka faces a resolution at the Human Rights Council for alleged wartime excesses in 2009 operations against the LTTE.
  • India’s support for its neighbour would place it closer to China than to the U.S.

Impact on India’s ties with Russia

  • The Biden administration looks at CAATSA act as a powerful tool. It was made clear by him in countering Turkey’s S-400 purchase and the Nord Stream2 pipeline project from Russia.
  • The purchase of the S-400 missile systems will attract sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Trade issues:

  • Under Biden, India is hoping that the US will reverse its decision to cancel its GSP status for Indian exports.
  • The mega Indian investment plan announced during the “Howdy Modi” visit has ended abruptly. (Petronet India’s $2.5 billion stake in U.S. company Tellurian’s Driftwood LNG project)

Dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan:

The US will not see India as part of the Afghan solution, and it will seek more support from Pakistan to facilitate its exit. This is because India firmly supports the Ashraf Ghani government and refusing to engage the Taliban.

[Answered] Track the recent developments in India-US relations. What are various issues in India-US relations?

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