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Explained Ideas: What a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration could mean for US-India partnership

On issues that matter most to professional Indians, such as H1-B visas and country quotas for green cards, Harris has been remarkably positive, writes Amitabh Mattoo.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 14, 2020 9:03:52 pm
kamala harris, kamala harris nomination, kamala harris vice-president, kamala harris indian, kamala harris news, indian expressKamala Harris listens as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden introduces her as his running mate on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. (AP Photo: Carolyn Kaster)

According to Amitabh Mattoo, professor of international relations at the JNU, if US presidential elections were held today, the Joe Biden- Kamala Harris team would win a landslide.

What might that mean for India? Moreover, how does one see India’s current with the US-led by Donald Trump?

“While it was prudent (and opportunistic) for New Delhi to have invested in the narcissism of Trump, it may also be a moment to revisit and reflect on the idea that only the present incumbent can deliver on the promise of bilateral relations,” writes Mattoo in his opinion piece in The Indian Express.

He states that an audit of the last four years US-India relationship has been disappointing. “For all the highs of the extravaganzas at Motera or Houston, the Trump administration’s policies have been premised on America First in a manner in which our immediate neighbourhood, especially Afghanistan, has been unsettled, and also has had a deep impact on skilled unemployment of Indian workers in the US under HIB visas”.

Of course, the main contours of the foreign policy of a potential Biden–Harris administration are far from clear. But Mattoo argues that it is safe to say that the Democrats are equally concerned about China, are tough on terrorism and have deep suspicions about foreign countries undermining the democratic process of elections in the US.

“On issues that impact India, it is short-sighted and counterproductive to view the senator’s (Kamala Harris) signaling on Article 370 or CAA as anything more than just that: Symbolic signaling,” he writes.

Also in Explained: How India got its national flag

“In contrast, on the issues that matter most to professional Indians, Harris has been remarkably positive. Harris wrote against revoking the ‘right of spouses of H-1B visa holders to seek employment’. Similarly, Harris has called for the elimination of country quotas for getting green cards,” he states. “Indians are deeply impacted by both issues.”

“Ironically, the greatest strengths of Kamala Harris are also her weaknesses…Her life has been one of doing the right thing, in moderation,” writes Mattoo. “It is a life all Indians could embrace and must celebrate enthusiastically,” he concludes.

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