Donald Trump & India

Donald Trump & India

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has frequently targeted India through his rhetoric, recently accusing India and China of taking unfair “advantage of the United States” and has used widely televised debates and pep rallies to pillory outsourcing. Indian business leaders are concerned that a Trump presidency could negatively impact the country.

Then, during the third Republican debate, he complained that a paucity of H-1B visas was making America lose talented people. “They go to Harvard. They go to Yale. They go to Princeton. They come from another country, and they’re immediately sent out. I am all in favor of keeping these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley,” said Trump.

Indian outsourcing giants Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro are heavy users of the H-1B visas. The IT industry has genuine concerns as Trump has shifted his position several times on the H-1B program. Early in his campaign, Trump proposed restricting the program and criticized it for giving away coveted entry-level IT jobs to workers flown in cheaper from countries like India.

“Trump has overruled himself several times on the H-1B visa program, which is good. It shows he is flexible. If Trump imposes a 15% duty then those services coming to US companies will just be 15% more expensive. It is not as if there is capacity in the US to perform those services,” said Khanna. “I wouldn’t be as upset as the Indian companies are as this is election rhetoric.”

For India, these are five main policy areas that could be impacted by a Trump administration. Indian government officials will have to be on the look-out for how to deal with these challenges:

  • The strategic partnership between India the US is justified, in large parts, because of the convergence of the ‘Act East’ policy and the ‘pivot to Asia’. New Delhi will be concerned if the new administration adopts a more transactional approach to international security in the Asia-Pacific region. During his campaign, Trump had said that the US’s closest allies in Asia, Japan and South Korea, should pay more for the US troops on their soil. Similarly, he said that both countries should have nuclear weapons.
  • An immediate concern for India would be Trump’s campaign platform to reform the H1B system and pause the issuance ‘green cards’ – which will keep Indian IT firms and their lobbyists burning the midnight oil over the next four years. Silicon valley had overwhelming come out against Trump and therefore it remains to be seen if they will have any influence on the new administration. But, at the same time, he may be persuaded by his own party members who would be concerned if US companies lose their competitive edge. Trump began his presidential campaign by targeting illegal immigration.
  • After the March bomb blast in Lahore, Trump tweeted that he “alone can solve” the issue of terrorism, presumably. However, as with his announcement regarding combating ISIS, Trump did not bother to outline any plan. He did say that Pakistan was a “problem” due to its nuclear weapons. On relations between India and Pakistan, he has been rather vague – as with most other issues. During one TV appearance, he had even offered to mediate between the two south asian neighbours. While there has been a perception among the Indian-American supporters of Trump that Trump would go hard against Islamist terrorism .
  • Trump, who claimed once that Climate Change was a Chinese conspiracy, had promised to withdraw from the landmark Climate change agreement forged at Paris. India has a contrary view on both these issues, with Modi having personally intervened after a request from President Obama and clearing the way for the treaty. Similarly, Modi will find it hard going to convince Trump to give special preference to renewable energy, which did not even get a mention in his Energy Plan issued in May this year.
  • Lets wait for him to start his term in January 2017 and then we can get a more clear idea of what’s in store for India under Trump Sarkaar.

 

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