Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How the US Presidential election result will affect India

It is an undeniable fact that both India and the US are a cacophonous democracy and their elections, a spectacle. With a combination rarity, admiration, mockery and bordering on the bizarre oddity, this year’s US elections is nothing less than a TV show.

Now, with the voting going on, it is yet unknown what the voters think of their candidates, but it can be said that the Indian citizens who will indeed watch with incredulity, do not have very strong opinions about any of the candidates. This is mainly because this year’s campaign was fought more on scandals than on policies which include historical load and the diaspora. But if one has followed the campaigns closely, it can be said that the outcome of this election will affect trade ties between America and other countries. But if it will affect India, is debatable, as Indian economy is already doing very well, along with the fact that our foreign policies regarding each other are so strong that leaders cannot change that effectively for a long time.

Going back into history, during the beginning of the Cold War and Indian independence, there was a wave of opinions against India in the US. It was during that time John F. Kennedy and the country’s ambassador to India Chester Bowles changed things, even though they belonged to the Democratic party. Later, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon were not considered favourable towards India. Yet after the Cold War ended, Republican presidents turned the tide, especially with president George W. Bush, irrespective of their unpopular policies overall.

Bush was the main reason behind India becoming a legitimate nuclear power as he signed the US-India nuclear deal, saying that India is a ‘responsible nuclear state’. Since Bill Clinton became the president of the United States, its relations between India has only grown and it will take a goliath of an effort to estrange such ties. After Clinton, Bush and Barack Obama continued their efforts in maintaining the ties, especially in the economy and defence sectors. Now, whoever becomes the president, he/she will inherit a legacy of ties.

When it comes to trade ties, the issue has been more of a recurring theme in Donald Trump’s campaign. It is the same with Clinton, as both of them believe that the US’ current economic situation is due to bad trade deals. Now, there is no security with how will they change, India can still do fine without much of a trade with the US, especially helped by the fact that India is an oil importer during the times of oil price decline. But since the US is a prime part of the World Trade Organisation, the decisions of the president, especially Trump cannot be selective as he has shown intentions to. As being biased towards one country can change the fate of ‘Make in India’ program too.

But, having said that, Trump can indirectly affect India in a huge way. According to The Economist, him being the US president will be one of the biggest sources of a global economy which means he can be a disaster for global trade which in itself is not doing well. Moreover, there is so much uncertainty in his policy projections that global economy is bound to get affected, which indirectly will affect India.

Trump has not been clear about any of the important policies, always pointing out the problem instead of providing the solution. The inherent unpredictability, added with opinion oscillation, is not good for businesses as it affects the both the politics of various avenues in an economy; an economy which he claims to make great again using his regressive statements.

Meanwhile, Clinton is at least clear on her stands, and no matter if others agree with her decision, the predictability can help to plan and prepare. Clinton also goes back in history with her association with India She was the first lady of the US for 8 years. Then as a senator, she co-chaired the Senate India Caucus. She was the secretary of state as well and one of the bigger proponents of the ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy. Technically, she has good political backing and advisors added to her good relations with India. So broadly she is a favourable candidate that India should want the US to have as a president.

When it comes to outsourcing jobs, Trump, in his speeches and even in his book, has been explicit in showing his displeasure with it. He has shown interest in implementing taxes and quotas for companies outsourcing jobs, as a measure to curb the high unemployment in the country. Meanwhile, Clinton though inclined towards the same idea to limit outsourcing, she has enough business knowledge to realise the working of an economy as how low cost of production drives decision making. Now, Indian software sector being largely dependent on the US, these decisions will have a negative effect on India. Add to this Trump’s ambiguous statements on immigration, mostly inclined to the unpopular, which puts H1B visas at risk, eventually being a sore throat in Indo-US relations. Now, the Visa cannot be scrapped altogether for all practical purposes, yet even a hike in the visa fee can cost the Indian software hundreds of millions of dollars.

All in all, it can be said that Clinton will be the less radical, lesser evil when if comes to India, purely based on the fact that she is not a certain Mr Donald Trump. Frankly, Trump cannot affect India directly but as one of the fastest growing economies of the world, we do not want to be on the bad side of the global risk.

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