Ascertaining that there will be a continuity in good US-India linkages beyond selves or governments, US President-elect Joe Biden and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke over the phone on Tuesday and vowed to bolster and enlarge ties between the two countries.
The call between the two administrators, who have known each other for many years, set to test the hypothesis that New Delhi had joined together itself too closely with outgoing President Donald Trump. Indian officials pointed out that as vice-president, Biden hosted an official lunch for Modi and presided over his address to the joint session of Congress during the Indian prime minister’s visits in 2014 and 2016, implying they anticipated no hiccups in immersing with the new administration.
Spoke to US President-elect @JoeBiden on phone to congratulate him. We reiterated our firm commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed our shared priorities and concerns – Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 17, 2020
The exchanges also implicitly entrenched New Delhi’s commendation, first communicated in a congratulatory tweet from Modi, that Biden is the victor in an election result still being debated by Trump.
“The president-elect thanked the prime minister for his congratulations and expressed his desire to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership alongside the first vice president of South Asian descent,” the Biden transition team let out in a read-out of the call, disclosing Biden asking for Kamala Harris in the context of improving ties.
Modi too pertained to Kamala Harris, according to a declaration from India’s foreign ministry, giving his “best wishes to the daughter of an Indian immigrant whose election to the second-highest public office in the United States has been cheered in India.”
Although Harris is not anticipated to fiddle a crucial role in foreign associations, there has been some unrest in hyper-nationalist haloes in India that she will acquire a hard line on civil liberties and human rights provided her compunctions on the Citizenship Amendment Act and revocation of Article 370. “We have to remind Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping track of the situation,” Harris had asserted on one conference, irking Indians susceptible to criticism on the affair.
But expressing authenticity and necessity that will put other matters on the tip, the Biden statement said the president-elect “looks forward to working closely with the prime minister on shared global challenges, including containing Covid-19 and defending against future health crises, tackling the threat of climate change, launching the global economic recovery, strengthening democracy at home and abroad, and maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”
Some analysts parsed the proclamation to accentuate Biden’s reference to enhancing democracy. In contrast, others commented that any unspoken criticism on this tally now pertains as much to the US pursuing a run-down election that is assessing its institutional poundage. Some reviewers also saw a likely dilution in the incoming administration’s obligation to India vis-a-vis China.
“India’s importance in US strategy appears set to erode. He has signaled the likely demise of the ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ (FOIP) strategy and a resumption of cooperation with China in areas where interests converge,” noted Brahma Chellaney, adding in an independent exposition that “flip-flops are to Biden what egomania is to Trump.”