21 Jan 2017 13:59 IST

India to play it safe as Trump enters White House

Modi expected to share good ties with Donald Trump

India has decided to play it safe both strategically as well as economically with the US even as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th US President on Friday. Trump is expected to share a healthy relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While it is not uncommon for political leaders to be belligerent during election campaigns, Trump has proved to be different from the rest by continuing to be controversial, which was clearly evident in the manner in which he held his first press conference.

Soon after Trump’s victory was announced on November 8, a high-powered official team was sent to Washington, which was led by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, in an effort to finalise a meeting between him and Modi.

The Indian side was able to hold a meeting with Trump’s transition team where all issues were broadly discussed and it was decided that Modi will be visiting Washington in June or July, sources told BusinessLine.

Experts believe Trump’s stance towards India may turn out to be yet another positive chapter in the history of India-US bilateral ties with both countries being led by nationalist leaders having robust communication skills.

“President Trump is coming well prepared. All those who think he knows nothing, will be proved wrong because he knows what he speaks. India needs to understand this and also his way of working. Both leaders are nationalistic leaders and both are strong communicators. Having said that, one needs to be patient and see how his movements shape up.

“As for the bonhomie between both leaders, both Modi and Trump will be compelled to be good friends for a larger cause,” said former Ambassador Rajiv K Bhatia, who is now Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme at Gateway House.

IT sector woes

Trump has already said that he considers India to be a “key strategic ally” of the US. But, at the same time, he will be tough to deal with as his primary agenda is to bring jobs back to US, which was his key election promise. To that effect, he will continue to crack the whip on India and its IT companies that continue to reel under the H1-B visa restrictions.

“Unpredictability will be key in the Trump era. That will be his biggest strength. There will be squeezing on H1B visas and there will be restrictions on outsourcing. He has to get the jobs back. Also, we need to realise, Trump will like to deal with matters bilaterally and not multilaterally,” said Nandan Unnikrishnan, Vice-President, ORF.

India is also taking steps to ensure that the US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, which was set up in 2015, should not be done away with by the present administration.

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