Trump’s Victory Bodes Well For India?
The BJP leadership has not officially come out with any statement hailing the Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stunning victory against the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on November 8 elections, but at informal level, the BJP leaders are very pleased and they are hopeful that the United States policies under Trump will undergo a significant shift in favour of Hindu India in view of the newly elected President’s avowed position against the Muslims and his close relations in the US with the Hindu coalition which has the blessings of the BJP.
BJP has got a vast network in the US with its supporters manning many of the important positions in the Indian-dominated organisations. The Party also collects huge funds for poll expenses in India through its NRI supporters and the temples dominated by its VHP fellows.
In fact during the coming elections, while the other political parties including the Samajwadi Party and the Congress might face funds problem due to the latest demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs.
1,000 notes by the Modi government, BJP will face no problem as the Party has started depending in a big way for donations in foreign currencies from its supporters abroad and these funds on its own, are sufficient to take care of the expenses during the coming state assembly elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh, where the poll battle will be most crucial and the BJP is determined to get maximum seats in the assembly elections in 2017 by spending huge amount for the victory of its candidates.
BJP analysts also see the Trump victory as a vindication of their pro-nationalist and inward looking right-wing views and they are once again confident that their Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and the Party President Amit Shah are on the right path and the BJP’s thrust on nationalism, will pay rich dividends in elections by drawing the support of the common Hindu masses just as in the US elections, the common white Americans who constitute 70 per cent of the US electorate, responded positively to Trump’s appeal despite strong criticism by the liberal intellectuals and the media.
The Trump victory has given BJP’s ideologues a scope to justify their ultra-nationalist position. In the United Kingdom, the common British masses opted for quitting European Union despite strong support by the educated Britain in favour of remaining in the EU. In many European countries, the right-wing forces are gaining strength as the centrists and non-communist liberals are losing credibility.
The countries, where the leftists have been able to adapt themselves and draw young people, the Left groups have also equally got strengthened at the cost of the middle like Greece, Spain and Portugal. So as far as the BJP leadership is concerned, there is no possibility now of diluting their agenda to appeal to the Hindu masses on the pattern the Republican Donald Trump polarised the Americans in the November 8 elections.
Hillary, on the other hand talked sense, spoke of liberal values, the racial harmony and her dream of an inclusive America but Trump won the swing states by winning the hearts of the common white Americans who are disgruntled and victims of the establishment. Trump could mislead these poor working class Americans by diverting their attention from the real issues.
The focus was shifted to immigration, outsourcing, racial hatred instead of the neo-liberal policies of which he is a part. While the BJP leadership is feeling happy at this victory of Trump and the prospects of the new US President focusing more on cornering Pakistan, the Indian foreign ministry is yet to size up the complexity of the situation that is emerging following the transition in US Presidency. Though officially, Donald Trump will take over on January 20 next year, his imprint on policies will start even now.
President Obama has no role now in framing any new policy and Trump can start processing his ideas in consultations with his advisers and keep the policies ready for implementation after January 20. This is a very crucial period since many of the ideas that Trump is having, will take detailed shape during the next two months. Indian foreign ministry officials will try to be pro-active during this period to influence some of the India-centric decisions through the Republican members of the India-US caucus and the Hindu coalition fellows who have become closer to Trump in the course of the poll campaign.
There are two issues which are worrying Indian officials and they are trying to assess what the new President will be planning in these areas. Trump is focusing on domestic manufacturing to create jobs for the young Americans. The issue is which are the areas Trump will give emphasis and if India is involved in supplying products in those areas, Indian companies are sure to be affected. To start with, at least for two years, the new President has to prove his credibility and his electorate will look for the implementation of a part of his package after his election.
Trump is a shrewd businessman and he knows the limitations of protectionism at this age. But still he has to generate jobs and some high paying jobs and in the process, he may not mind in changing the scope in favour of the US companies in the bilateral agreements. He is committed to renegotiating the bilateral deals. India-US Investment Treaty is in the process. This is not the right time to pursue that. All indications are that India will not press it and wait to see what Trump does with other bilateral and investment treaties after taking over.
Indian officials hope that the present export level to the USA will be maintained taking into account the US demand, but questions remain. The US accounted for 15.37 per cent of India’s total export market in 2015-16.While India exported US$ 40.3 billion of goods, the US exported just US$ 21.6 billion of goods from India. The top three Indian exports are precious stones, textiles and pharmaceuticals.
Pharmaceuticals is an area where there is a big potential but there are also problems. If Trump really cancels or revises NAFTA to deny Mexico its concessional benefits, that will give a big opportunity to Indian firms to get further openings in the American market, but at the same time the issues pending with US FDA, have to be sorted out. Much will depend on the relationship that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is able to establish with the US President.
That way, there are worries as also possibilities. The first task after January will be to take up the issue of HIB visas for the Indians working in IT companies. This will be a crucial issue since this has been mentioned by Trump a number of times. Trump knows the worth of the Indian IT people and also how their contribution helps the US business.
Trump thinks China as a big rival to the USA in terms of both political and economic power. India has not come to that stage. That is why Indian officials feel that Narendra Modi may intelligently arrive at a separate understanding with Trump on the economic issues affecting Indian interests since India is a strategic partner to the USA and there is no political threat from India like China.
Protest after elections
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in cities across the US on Wednesday night in a bid to protest against Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election. Many of the protests were in cities with large Democratic bases - Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and Washington.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to travel to the US next week to meet President-elect Donald Trump with a view to strengthening bilateral ties. Trump called relations between the two countries ‘excellent’ and expressed his desire to further boost ties. Abe will also attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima from November 19 to 20.
Rise of Us Dollar
A generally pro-growth set of policies from Trump, aided and abetted by the Republican clean sweep of congress, boosted investor sentiment. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six major peers, was up 0.71 percent to 98.553 in late trading. The dollar climbed to 1.3424 Canadian dollars from 1.3326 Canadian dollars.