Washington, Nov 24: Some Asian nations are watching anxiously as Donald Trump prepares to take up the presidency, but for at least one major power in the region, India, the changing of the guard in Washington could strengthen ties. During a brutal election campaign, where Trump’s rhetoric on foreign partners was overwhelmingly negative, he was largely positive about India, or at least its Hindu majority, and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi. When he courted Indian-American voters at a rally in New Jersey in mid-October, he said, “There won’t be any relationship more important to us.” Also Read - Joe Biden Allows Trump-Era H-1B Visa Bans Expire; Indian IT Professionals To Benefit
He praised Modi, savvy in using social media, as a “great man” for championing bureaucratic reforms and economic growth. There are other hints that Trump is well-disposed toward India. He has done a lot of business there. A Washington Post analysis of Trump’s pre-election financial disclosure found that of his 111 international business deals, the highest number 16 were in India. He stirred controversy last week over potential conflicts of interest by meeting with three Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex in the city of Pune. Also Read - Donald Trump's 'Buddha Statues' Start Trending Online, Being Sold for Over Rs 44,000 on E-commerce Site
Yesterday he selected South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian Sikh immigrants, to be US ambassador to the United Nations, the first woman tapped for a Cabinet-level post in his administration. Haley has no foreign policy experience. It remains a matter of conjecture how any of this will shape the approach taken by a Trump administration when he takes office January 20. But Lisa Curtis at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank said it was “easy to envision” the US and India working closer on counter-terrorism. Also Read - Joe Biden Administration 'Undecided' On Ending Trump-Era H-1B Visa Ban
India hopes that Trump’s promise to fight radical Islamic militants will mean more American pressure on Pakistan and less aid for India’s historic archrival. Militants based in Pakistan are accused of launching cross-border attacks inside India. Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to the US, said reactions in India to Trump’s election victory have ranged from vocal support from right-wingers to shock and disappointment among the liberal intelligentsia.
US-India relations have advanced under President Barack Obama, particularly since Modi’s election in 2014. When Modi addressed Congress this June, he described the US as an “indispensable partner” and said together they could anchor stability and prosperity from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. Staunch US allies like Japan and South Korea, which host American forces and depend on US nuclear deterrence, have been unnerved by Trump’s call for nations to shoulder more of the burden for security in Asia.