What does president-elect Joe Biden mean to India and its relationship with the US

India-US Relations

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India-US Relations
India-US Relations

In News:

  • Joe Biden was recently elected the 46th President of the United States. In Biden’s term as the President, Kamala Harris will become the first woman and first Indian- and African-American Vice-President of the country.
  • Biden has said his first priority will be to develop a plan to contain and recover from the pandemic.
  • In addition to dealing with the health crisis, Biden faces a huge challenge in reducing the economic hardships caused by COVID-19.

Biden and India:

Biden’s stand on relationship with India:
  • Biden has been a Senator for a very long time, and served on important Senate committees. He had for many years, even before his role as US Vice-President, advocated a stronger relationship with India.
  • In fact, in 2006, three years before he became the Vice-President (VP) of the US, Biden announced his vision for the future of US-India relations, in which he claimed that India and the US will be the two closest nations in 2020.
Biden’s contribution to Indo-US relations during his term as VP:
  • Biden played an important role as the Vice President (when Obama was President), in systematically deepening strategic engagement with India.
  • During his term as VP, the US officially declared its support for India’s membership in a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Improvement in Defence ties:
  • The Obama-Biden Administration also named India a “Major Defense Partner”, which made it easier to share advanced and critical technology to India to strengthen defence ties.
  • This was crucial since it was for the first time that any country was given this status, outside of the US’s traditional alliance system.
  • In 2016, the US and India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the first of the three “foundational pacts” for deeper military cooperation.
    • LEMOA allows the militaries of the US and India to access supplies, spare parts and services from each other’s land facilities, air bases, and ports.
    • LEMOA is extremely useful for India-US Navy-to-Navy cooperation, since the two countries are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Later on, the Trump administration signed the remaining foundational pacts – COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement).
Fight against terrorism:
  • Obama and Biden strengthened cooperation with India to fight terrorism in each of their countries and across the region.
  • Biden’s election campaign document states that there can be no tolerance for terrorism in South Asia.

Biden’s stand on China:

  • Over the last few few years, there has been a growing realisation in America about China’s aggressive behaviour and its emergence as a strategic rival and a threat.
  • The US has supported India in the last six months of its border conflict with China. India expects a similar approach from the Biden administration as well.
  • Biden’s election campaign document states that the Biden administration will work with India to support a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region in which no country, (including China), will be able to threaten its neighbours.

Biden’s approach on immigration and visas:

  • The issue of immigration and visas has been a major concern for Indians under the Trump administration.
  • However, Biden is expected to have a better approach towards Indians who go to the US to study, work and live there.
  • Biden has promised to support family-based immigration, increase the number of visas offered for permanent, work-based immigration.
  • He also promised to reform the temporary visa system for high-skill, specialty jobs and eliminate the limits on employment-based green cards.

Biden’s stand on human rights and democratic values:

  • In the past, Biden has expressed his disappointment on measures such as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India.
  • Thus, the human rights issue is a major concern for the Indian government, which had got support from the Trump administration on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Biden’s campaign document says that the US and India are bound together by shared democratic values of fair and free elections, equality under the law, and the freedom of expression and religion.
  • It further underlines, that these core principles will continue to be the basis of India-US relations in the future.

Future outlook:

  • Over the last 20 years, every US President — Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, has agreed on a stronger relationship with India.
  • This shows that there has been a tradition of support in favour of better ties with India, and every US President has worked on improving relations with India. The same is expected from President Joe Biden.

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