Vivek Mishra: India is not concerned about Trump

Vivek Mishra: “India is not ‘concerned’ about Trump’s second term”

In the second session of a series of sessions titled “Predicting the Unpredictable,” concerning the consequences of Donald Trump’s possible second term as the US president, Dr. Vivek Mishra, a senior fellow at India’s Observer Research Foundation (ORF) discussed the future of India-US relations in a webinar held on May 14. According to him, India is not “concerned” about Trump’s winning, because it is in a “partnership” relationship with the US, rather than an “alliance” and Trump’s policies would have more impact on America’s “allies” than its “partners.” In fact, due to the existence of a strong consensus in favor of India in the US Congress, New Delhi has traditionally been able to work with both Democrats and Republicans. However, Biden and Trump each have their own challenges to work with: criticism of the Indian democracy under the Biden administration, and tariff and trade issues under the Trump administration.

If Trump wins, a more hostile relationship between China and the United States will be formed in the field of high-level technologies, and as a result, India will gain a competitive advantage over China. You will see many companies moving out of China and looking for somewhere else to set up. A natural alternative would be South Asia and especially India.

Regarding the situation in West Asia, Saudi Arabia is still willing to participate in the IMEC (India-Middle East-Europe Corridor) and normalize relations with Israel, if the regime accepts the two-state solution. However, with Benjamin Netanyahu in power and in the event of Trump’s victory, the realization of the two-state solution will be ruled out. Ultimately, the way the war in Gaza ends will determine the fate of IMEC.

The future president of the United States will find Indo-Iranian relations challenging. Of course, if Trump will be in the White House, we will see more pressure on the India-Iran relations, but considering the strength of the India-US relationship, the fixed pillars of this relationship cannot be removed by any president, although it may have ups and downs. Similar to the case of the purchase of Russian oil by India, despite the dissatisfaction of the West, because Westerners know that New Delhi is an independent actor in this region. Of course, measures such as imposing more sanctions on Iran, or creating more obstacles for India regarding the purchase of Iranian oil or the management of and presence in Chabahar port may be undertaken. Nevertheless, Chabahar Port is a very important port for India, for two reasons: one, being on the route of the International North-South Corridor (INSTC) that connects Mumbai to Saint Petersburg through Chabahar, and second, in terms of the role that India seeks in Central Asia, as we look at this region as an “extended neighborhood.” The problem that existed firstly in the development of Chabahar port was the sanctions imposed on steel, which was needed for the construction of the first layer of the port. Of course, India is trying to circumvent sanctions, but for now it is focusing on port management and aspects that are not sanctioned by the US.

The Biden government has shown a kind of self-restraint toward Iran. For example, after Iran’s missile attack on Israel, the US explicitly warned Israel that it does not want a regional war. But if we look at Trump’s precedents, such as the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, it seems that we will not see such restraint during his possible second term. Trump would leave the decision to Israel.

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