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Will Donald Trump be a true friend

Will Donald Trump be a true friend

Even as the US has spoken about rolling out the red carpet for Prime Minister Narendra Modi beginning his two-day visit to the US today, the question is, will President Donald Trump keep his promise of being a true friend of India now that he has been elected to the most powerful office in the world. The media savvy Modi is prepared for his five-hour meeting with Trump beyond the briefs prepared by the mandarins in the high profile Ministry of External Affairs. The President's personality will not influence India's ties with the world's only superpower.

During the Trump-Modi discussions spilling over dinner, there can be several contingencies, as there is an element of unpredictability when world leaders come face to face. The discussions between the leaders will not be constrained. Modi has already spoken thrice with Trump over the telephone. According to a White House official, the President considers India a critical partner in dealing with a variety of global challenges, observing that the defence partnership between the two countries will flourish under the Trump administration. The Indian orders for defence supplies is supporting thousands of jobs in the US. "We believe that a strong India is good for the US", added the official. Trump is not a politician in the typical sense and is yet to offer a window to leaders around the globe to predict his next move as he continues to take decisions in keeping with his declared priorities, outlined while he was campaigning. A shocker from Trump was his announcement of the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Change pact, charging that it benefits India and China. This has been repeated recently by the US Vice President Mike Pence. Notwithstanding the Climate Change anger against India which appears to be on top of the Trump administration's agenda, the biggest challenge for Modi will be to strike a balance with their goals -- Make in Indian compared to Make America Great Again. Then, there is the tangle of the H1B visa which keeps propping up all the time, and finally the Trump administration's approach to Pakistan and China casting a shadow on India in the region. This has been further accentuated with the Trump administration seeking a stricter scrutiny through an Executive Order. Simply put this means there could possibly be no room for negotiations on the H1B controversy barring India impressing upon the US that contrary to opinion in that country, the H1B visas are creating more jobs there. The endeavour is to impress upon Trump that New Delhi is only seeking to create an opportunity, and not a problem. Modi might have to enlarge on what he recently told a Congressional delegation on the lines that movement of skilled professionals should be viewed from a "balanced and far sighted perspective". Greater work is required from New Delhi as well as Indian companies and Indian Americans to impress upon the US Congress on the Capitol Hill with a strong narrative to work on a legislation for visas. Modi firmly believes that considering the interests of India and the US, the two sides should be able to enlarge their economic engagement coupled with identifying areas of interest in a significantly large number of sectors. In the last decade, the bilateral trade between the two democracies has grown from $45 billion in 2006 to $115 billion in 2016. Interestingly, the balance of trade during the corresponding period is in India's favour, having risen from $12.7 billion to $30.8 billion. Modi will have the opportunity of hearing first hand from Trump the manner in which he is altering the contours of engagement with the world.

Simply put this means there could possibly be no room for negotiations on the H1B controversy barring India impressing upon the US that contrary to opinion in that country, the H1B visas are creating more jobs there. The endeavour is to impress upon Trump that New Delhi is only seeking to create an opportunity, and not a problem. Modi might have to enlarge on what he recently told a Congressional delegation on the lines that movement of skilled professionals should be viewed from a "balanced and far sighted perspective". Greater work is required from New Delhi as well as Indian companies and Indian Americans to impress upon the US Congress on the Capitol Hill with a strong narrative to work on a legislation for visas.

Modi firmly believes that considering the interests of India and the US, the two sides should be able to enlarge their economic engagement coupled with identifying areas of interest in a significantly large number of sectors. In the last decade, the bilateral trade between the two democracies has grown from $45 billion in 2006 to $115 billion in 2016. Interestingly, the balance of trade during the corresponding period is in India's favour, having risen from $12.7 billion to $30.8 billion. Modi will have the opportunity of hearing first hand from Trump the manner in which he is altering the contours of engagement with the world.

Greater work is required from New Delhi as well as Indian companies and Indian Americans to impress upon the US Congress on the Capitol Hill with a strong narrative to work on a legislation for visas. Modi firmly believes that considering the interests of India and the US, the two sides should be able to enlarge their economic engagement coupled with identifying areas of interest in a significantly large number of sectors. In the last decade, the bilateral trade between the two democracies has grown from $45 billion in 2006 to $115 billion in 2016. Interestingly, the balance of trade during the corresponding period is in India's favour, having risen from $12.7 billion to $30.8 billion. Modi will have the opportunity of hearing first hand from Trump the manner in which he is altering the contours of engagement with the world. Also it will be of great interest to know the attitude of the Trump administration towards Pakistan. For now Washington's engagement with both China and Pakistan is a matter of serious concern for New Delhi.

New Delhi is keen to understand how the Trump administration manages complexities of its relationship with China in the years ahead. The outcome of Modi's visit to the US and his interface with the Trump administration will have consequences for New Delhi pertaining to its economic ambitions and security challenges.

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