The unexpected results of the U.S. presidential election last week have delivered Donald J. Trump to the White House. Trump has no foreign policy history to pore over for clues, but his comments over the course of the campaign—and his visit to a Bollywood-and-anti-terrorism-themed jubilee in Edison, New Jersey, offer some indications of where he might take U.S.-India ties.
Early indications present a positive disposition toward India. In fact, on November 9, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory. In no previous change of administration—either in the United States or in India—did India rise to the next-day call list. For that matter, in no previous U.S. election did a major party candidate release a campaign ad in Hindi.
We can expect that a Trump administration will likely continue to pursue stronger ties with the world’s largest democracy, in keeping with a general bipartisan consensus on India. But Trump has signaled throughout his campaign that he will focus on “America First.” The direction the United States heads will affect U.S.-India ties as a result. India will likely benefit from impending geopolitical shifts, but will likely find itself at odds with a balance-sheet approach to trade and economic policies.
For more of my thoughts on U.S.-India with a Trump presidency, see my op-ed in Mint.