Washington: India and the US have converged on many global issues in recent years, but there are still some areas which will have a direct bearing on the trajectory of the India-US relationship under the Trump administration.
In this context, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Donald Trump here will be crucial for the immediate future of India-US ties under their leadership.
The uncertainty over Trump’s policies in the initial months of his presidency had sparked a debate in the international community and India was equally keen to know about how its ties with the new administration would progress.
Here are the top five issues that will determine the trajectory of the India-US relationship in the immediate future:
1/ Make in India
This is Modi government’s signature initiative to boost manufacturing in the country, but will the Trump administration lend its support.
There were many positive feelers in the recent past from top companies expressing their desire to manufacture in India.
Companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and BAE systems had expressed their desire to participate in “co-production and co-development” of military equipment in India.
But the big question is will Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, if implemented in letter and spirit, could pose a roadblock to India’s Make in India initiative.
And will PM Modi, through his charateristic personal appeal, be able to get past the roadblock?
2/ H-1B visa
Indian IT companies such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS, which have been operating in the American market successfully for years, will be adversely affected if the Trump administration abruptly change its H1B visa policy.
These companies have invested huge amount of money and have also created thousands of jobs in the US but the proposed H-1B visa restrictions could pose a serious irritant in the India-US relations.
The new proposed measures to raise the minimum wage of workers holding H1B visa is aimed at discouraging companies from hiring foreign workers.
This is to be seen how the Indian government tackles this contentious issue.
3/ Trade and Investment
Again, the protectionist trade policies promised by the Trump adminsitration could be a major hurdle in the relations as it will obstruct the expansion of trade and investment ties between India and the US.
However, the picture is not so gloomy after all! The Trump administration wants to raise the Indo-US trade to $300 billion in the next four years. Though his predecessor Barack Obama had spoke about raising it to $500 billion.
The Modi government wil have to overcome the protectionist US policies in order to make its “Make in India” initiative successful.
4/ Curbing Pakistan sponsored terror
How the Trump administration handles this prickly issue will certainly have a bearing on the bilatdesi newral ties. Whether the Trump administration manages to put pressure on Pakistan to rein in the jihadists forces will greatly impact the India-US relations, particularly in the defence and security sectors.
Both Modi and Trump have made combating terror a top priority. And it is yet to be seen whether the Trump administration takes concrete steps to help India in dealing with terror emanating from across the border. Understanding and cooperation in this area will boost strategic trust to a very high level.
5/ China factor
Trump’s China policy will certainly impact all the countries in the region, including India. How the Trump administrastion perceives or handles issues such as India’s border dispute with Beijing will go a long way in building trust between the two sides.
If Trump gives priority to his principal campaign agenda, to make ‘America great again’, US-China tension is bound to go up over a host of issues covering economic, security and political. China is the main rival for the US as it aspires to be the top of the hierarchy. Hence India would need to carefully navigate in the turbulent waters of Sino-US relations.