Indians couldn’t contain their glee when Kamala Harris was nominated as the Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate alongside Joe Biden. Harris has Indian-Jamaican roots, and is the first woman of Indian-origin to be a nominee for the office of Vice-President. But it doesn’t end there; the Joe Biden Presidential package seems to have a lot more to offer India.
Biden and Harris held a virtual event on August 15th, India’s Independence Day. It was definitely one of the biggest I-Day celebrations by a US Presidential candidate. At the virtual event, Kamala Harris got nostalgic about her love for Idlis and her walks with her grandfather, while Biden reminded us of his role in passing the India-US nuclear deal.
Watch: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris Addresses India American Community On India’s Independence Day
He went out and stated that if elected, he would stand against the threats to India in the subcontinent, and rely on Indian-American expatriates to keep the two nations together. “My constituents in Delaware, my staff in the Senate, the Obama administration that had more Indian-Americans than any other administration in the history of this country, and this campaign with Indian Americans at senior levels, which of course includes the top of the heap, our dear friend (Kamala Harris) who will be the first Indian American vice president in the history of the United States of America,” Mr. Biden said.
Watch: We Stand With India: Biden & Kamala Harris
Inside Biden’s Pro-India Stance
Biden’s pro-India stance is definitely bait for Indian Americans who, according to the 2010 US Census, consist of 2,843,391 citizens in the USA, one of the fastest-growing demographics. The bait seemed to have worked, as recent reports state that 54% of Indian Americans are leaning towards Democrats.
Another thing to note is that US and China relations have deteriorated in recent years, with public sentiment, in particular, souring towards China due to the pandemic. The same has been the case with India, which had several clashes with China over their shared border. In this case, the USA and India find themselves with a common enemy. Other than this, China has managed to antagonise several other countries in the South-East Asia region. Therefore, Biden is not only taking a firmer stance against China by encouraging relations with India, he is also identifying himself with a country that has fostered excellent relationships with several other South Asian countries.
How India Policy Experts View Biden’s Presidency?
New Delhi has rolled out the red carpet for Donald Trump on several occasions. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited the USA six times since taking the office. While this to-and-fro resulted in a lot of memes, it wasn’t very fruitful in terms of policies. Many policy experts hope this might change if Biden is elected.
Biden has stated he would work to expand two-way trade between India and the US, and work on major global issues like climate change and global health security.
“Fifteen years ago, I was leading the efforts to approve the historic civil nuclear deal with India. I said that if the US and India became closer friends and partners, then the world will be a safer place,” Mr. Biden said while addressing the Indian-American community on India’s Independence Day.
The Left-Right Misalignment
Despite Biden’s rhetoric and actions, a few critical things might adversely affect India-US relations. On paper, India seems to be the ideal strategic partner for the USA. But politically, the US will shift to the left of the spectrum if Biden wins. Even though Biden has always had a moderate stance amongst Democrats, it’s still quite a distance from India’s current right-wing government. Democratic presidents have generally taken the high moral ground when it comes to human rights issues, an area India has not fared well at in recent years.
Irrespective of who wins, not a lot might change for India; but the Narendra Modi government might have to adapt in certain areas if Biden wins. The US Presidential Elections this year might be one of the most critical elections, as it comes while the world is dealing with a pandemic. This might also be a turning point for the current phase of nationalist, right-wing governments all across the globe.