Joe Biden wins, he'll be the third US president to deal with Modi — Here’s how that could play out

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Joe Biden wins, he'll be the third US president to deal with Modi — Here’s how that could play out
Democratic nominee in the US Presidential Election 2020 Joe Biden delivers an address on US-India partnership at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai on 24 July 24 2013BCCL
  • Joe Biden has won the 2020 US Presidential Elections.
  • With Biden's victory, he will be the third US President to deal with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Propagators believe Biden will keep an open mind, while critics warn that this could lead to obstacles in the relationship with India and the US.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden is now the President-elect of the United States, after defeating Donald Trump in the 2020 US Presidential Election. Biden will now be the third US President to deal with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


“Biden will deliver on his long-standing belief that India and the United States are natural partners, and a Biden administration will place a high priority on continuing to strengthen the US-India relationship,” is the campaign’s official stance.

However, for the equation between India and the US, this could spell the winds of change.
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Joe Biden wins, he'll be the third US president to deal with Modi — Here’s how that could play out
US Vice President and US Secretary of State host a luncheon for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30 September 2014Wikimedia Commons

Many of the issues that have been swept under the rug, like India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370, many turn into thorns between the two nations, according to Mukesh Aghi, the President and CEO of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

“They will question religious freedom. They will question human rights. They will question what’s happening in Kashmir and some of the other issues that have been ignored by the Trump administration,” he told Business Insider during the Global Trends Festival 2020.

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Biden has brushed shoulders with Indian bureaucracy multiple times in the past. He was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when the US-India Nuclear Agreement was signed in 2008 and was a co-sponsor to the Naval Vessels Transfer Act of 2005, which led to India’s scoring its first US-built warship — the INS Jalashwa.

Propagators of the Biden campaign feel that his near four decades of experience in diplomacy will play in his favour, even if he disagrees on certain issues.

“The thing about Joe Biden that makes him special is his ability to find common ground. He also has the ability to very clearly let you know — foreign leaders and other countries around the world — where the US doesn’t agree,” Moe Vela, the Former Senior Advisor of Management to Biden from his Vice President days, told Business Insider during a Twitter live in June.
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Joe Biden wins, he'll be the third US president to deal with Modi — Here’s how that could play out
Moe Vela with the Biden familyMoeVela/Twitter

Biden and human rights
When the Modi government revoked Kashmir’s special status under Article 370, Democrats rallied against Trump’s dismissive attitude at the 2019 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on human rights in South Asia.

Joe Biden wins, he'll be the third US president to deal with Modi — Here’s how that could play out
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being greeted by the Speaker of House of Representatives Paul Ryan, before his address to Joint Session of US Congress, in Washington DC, USA on 8 June 2016. Also seen US Vice President Joe Biden.PIB

Moreover, the Biden campaign’s agenda for Muslim American communities addresses the situation in Kashmir as a ‘pain’ to the community alongside the Uyghurs in China and Rohingyas in Myanmar.
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However, Biden’s push against India’s actions is unlikely to be immediate. With the COVID-19 pandemic at large and the US’ economy in need of help — issues on the domestic front will likely take precedence, according to Observer Research Foundation’s ( ORF) Kashish Parpiani.

Biden’s play to assuage China fears
Biden’s agenda commits to “work with India to support a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region in which no country, including China, is able to threaten its neighbors with impunity,” as a counter to the Trump administration’s success in structuring the QUAD.

Joe Biden wins, he'll be the third US president to deal with Modi — Here’s how that could play out
Joe Biden delivers an address on US-India partnership at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai 24 July 2013 during his days as the Vice President under the Barack Obama administrationBCCL

Another signal of policy continuity is Biden's promise to continue treating India as a Major Defence Partner (MDP), as it was under the Barack Obama administration. It could signal that more developments may be on the cards like the classification of India under the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 category and finalising the Industrial Security Annex to facilitate the transfer of sensitive technologies, according to Parpiani.
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The issue of H-1B visas
Vela believes that Trump’s ban on H-1B visas is just another example of racism. According to him, since most of these employees are knowledge workers who know their way around a computer, working remotely is a genuine possibility.

And, the CEO of StackOverflow — one of the biggest online communities for developers to share tips and tricks — Prashanth Chandrasekar can see the trends shifting already. Across the plethora of their network, StackOverflow has noticed how companies around the world have changed their attitude towards asynchronous work during the pandemic.

One of Biden’s promises includes reforming the H-1B visa system and eliminating the limits of employment-based green cards by country. He plans to “protect American and foreign workers alike.”
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But again, with the global economy recovering from COVID-19 and rising unemployment on the homefront, it is unlikely that these changes will be a top priority in the near term.

Trade tensions
When it comes to trade, Biden has openly criticised Trump and his approach towards levying tariffs, which ‘alienate’ the US’ allies. However, Parpiani believes that a Biden win could also mean US apprehensions over India’s ties with Russia re-emerging as they did during the Obama era.

Joe Biden wins, he'll be the third US president to deal with Modi — Here’s how that could play out
Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris IANS

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The Biden campaign is also the first to release an agenda for the Indian American community. Even though the community may not list India-US relations as one of its top issues, a Carnegie survey shows that their support for Biden far outpaces their support for Trump.

Even though polling averages show Biden in the lead, it's the US' eight swing states that hold the power to turn the election on its head. Hillary Clinton faced the same odds during the 2016 election when she lost to Trump.

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