South-East reason for Trump’s India focus

Author: 
Arun Srivastava

US President Donald Trump wants India to join his team of Japan and Australia to contain the rising China, but inconsistently he is outright opposed to protecting the interest of Indians living in America. This duality has been shocking. Trump wants India to perform the task as an ally of America. But he is not willing to help India and Indians. For him the utility of India remains restricted to pitting it against China and not more than that.  
Notwithstanding his diatribes against Muslim countries, he is quite soft and caring towards Pakistan, though he accused it of harbouring and patronizing terrorists and extremists. After Trump became the president of America, the world’s biggest economy, he adopted such a posture, which is unbecoming of a friend. His demeanor scared the Indians working there. A sizeable number of Indians living in America have preferred to come back to India in search of a suitable job. His stand on H1B visa has also been dubious. His so-called concern for India does not reflect his gestures which are often found to be mired in racial contour.  
The number of Indians in the US searching for jobs in India has gone up more than 10-fold between December and March, according to an analysis by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Pvt Ltd. This data comes amid a crackdown by the Trump administration on job visas for skilled workers, the software engineers from India. Trump’s executive order called for a review of the H-1B visa programme, emphasizing that they should never be used to replace American workers and be must given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants.
Indians are coming back at a time when the employment scenario in the urban areas of India has turned bleak. Their arrival has created a major identity crisis. As the salary structure is quite low in comparison to the US, these job seekers are of major attraction for the employers and corporate sectors. They get priority over the native youths. In a way this has added to the growth of the unemployed youths.     
Significantly, this has been happening at a time when the Indian government has miserably failed to create employment avenues in spite of its assurance to generate employment opportunities for at least 1 crore youths. Little doubt if Trump had desisted from pursuing his revisionist and racist policy, India would not have faced such scary situation.    
What has been worse is a trade war seems to be looming between India and China after New Delhi imposed anti-dumping duties on 93 Chinese products. It is an irony that the wrong financial policies, particularly the demonetisation move of the Modi government, simply allowed China to have an upper hand in the game of one-upmanship. Just while the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was in session The Global Times, the mouth piece of the ruling CPC urged Chinese firms to “reconsider the risks” of investing in India and warned New Delhi to be “prepared for the possible consequences for its ill-considered action”. Little doubt the paper must not have carried the report without the tacit approval of the rulers.  
The newspaper also cited figures from the Indian embassy in China to show that Indian exports fell by 12.3 per cent year–on–year to USD 11.75 billion while India’s imports from China rose by 2 per cent to USD 59 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 47 billion. The paper was emphatic; “A trade war between China and India seems to be looming. If India really starts a trade war with China, of course, China’s economic interests will be hurt, but there will also be consequences for India”.
India has to take a pragmatic approach and there is no apparent reason that it should follow the diktats of America. The Indian rulers must explain what the benefits the country was going to get by following the US line. Apparently in its attempt to bully India, recently Tillerson made a major speech contrasting America's relationships with India and China. “We'll never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society,” he said, “that we can have with a major democracy” such as India. He criticized China's Belt-and-Road-Initiative (BRI) infrastructure programme, and proposed a joint Indo-U.S. effort towards “countering that with alternative financing measures.”
It is an open secret that America in its fight against China has been striving hard to get the support of India. This gets reflected in the observation of Tillerson: “China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenge the international law and norms that the United States and India both stand for.” The USA also promised not to shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighbouring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends.
It is beyond comprehension why the Indian rulers have been allowing the county to play in the hands of America. India does not face any such compulsion. It is really surprising that a country which has failed to protect its prestige and image globally was assuring India to defend and protect its sovereignty and describe its design as a natural complement to India’s “Act East” policy.   
What is the guarantee that America under Trump would help increase convergence of U.S. and Indian interests? It is fact that Modi’s many tours have yielded little by way of payoff. Actually, from 1990s onwards, it is the rise of China that has shaped the American approach to India. Earlier India could resolve its border problem with China but now the paradigm has changed. It is not so sure and the signals coming out of China are not very good. (IPA)

Tuesday, 14 November, 2017