What Not To Ask Will Kamala Harris Be Good For India?
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist|October 2020
As the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris as his running mate for the upcoming US presidential election later this year, and given Harris’ Indian roots, Indians are likely to ask: will Harris be good for India? However, this question is as non-consequential as asking: whom should India root for during a presidential election in the United States.
Dr. Monish Tourangbam*

While the Indian media and public conversations will likely engage in asking who will be good for India, the question is plain non-productive if not counter-productive from a policy point of view. For long, many in India have harboured a myth that any Republican administration will be necessarily good for India. However, a cursory examination of the contemporary history of India-US relations makes it clear that every single occupant of the White House thinks ‘America First’ and any upward or downward trend in India-US relations is symptomatic of this primary assessment. From President Harry Truman to Donald Trump, this has been the case with every single presidency.

The central pivot of the discourse on India- US relations in the last two decades has been the enviable bipartisan support that the India-US relationship has managed to gain in Washington. Therefore, prudence lies in keeping both the parties engaged on issues relating to India’s interest but keeping a safe distance when it comes to the domestic electoral politics in the United States. Critical aspects of the bilateral relationship will require New Delhi to work both the parties to gain traction in the US interagency policymaking process. However, in the election season, electoral politics should be better left to the candidates, their parties and the American electorate. The simple reason being the reality that New Delhi does not really have much a choice, neither does any other capital, of choosing whom to deal with in the White House, once the American voters elect their president.

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