Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Big Picture – President Trump: India’s New Foreign Policy Imperatives


The Big Picture – President Trump: India’s New Foreign Policy Imperatives



Donald J. Trump is the new President-elect of the United States who will enter the White House having promised to radically alter country’s foreign policy with significant impact for Americans and the world. Voters, foreign policy professionals and the country’s allies are all, to a real extent, left guessing. It is a little difficult to draw concrete plans from his announcements, particularly since they have not always been consistent.


Trump and his people were able to connect to those citizens who were totally missed out by the mainstream media and opinion polls. Therefore, it has to be kept in mind that he is representing a certain viewpoint of a majority of Americans which has been normally left out and he will have to prepare the ground for giving priorities on domestic policies. This is so because he had talked about raising the infrastructure of USA as the best in the world and doubling the economy. Simultaneously he also has anger against the regional trade agreements and others like TPP. India should feel little bit relaxed because if TPP is put in cold storage, there might not be tariff constraint which India was supposed to face in the future and hence it would be beneficial for Indian exporters as both India and China are out of TPP. Therefore, India has to work now in consultation with Asian countries as well as USA over the kind of arrangements which can be worked out bilaterally or in the context of WTO.

Trump has also been talking about the American jobs which have been stolen by many other countries. For India, the H-1B visa holders and the IT sector where Indians have made a significant impact are the areas of concern. India needs to be cautiously in waiting because anything which caters to the interest of America in his perception or his team would be carried out.

100 days in American context is too short a period to analyze America’s stand on foreign policy like he said on nuclearizing Korea or no problem with Japan going nuclear as well. This might drastically change the balance of power in Asia Pacific where India is interested. An unstable gulf region, a waging war in Syria, increasing hostility with Russia and China are some other areas of concern.

Pakistan should have a cause for concern because trump has not only talked about Pakistan being one of the difficult states to handle but also said that India is a key country to take care of Pakistan. Therefore, there are likely to be shifts in the positions of USA and the kind of cynical policies which have been followed all the time i.e. on one hand criticizing Pakistan and on the other hand giving then huge amount of money and armaments.

There is a broad consensus on India in USA’s foreign policy establishment. Democrats and Republicans are not seriously divided on this issue. India is by and large a preferred nation in USA both economically and strategically. Russia and India have been all-weather allies. Donald Trump has been sending mixed signals when it comes to his policy on a newly-assertive Russia. Trump has adopted an open-minded stand towards Putin, whom many current and former US officials consider an autocrat because Russia has annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

India would benefit from good relations between USA and Russia. However, the USA-China relationship will have the most decisive bearing on geopolitics. Trump had talked of reforming trade relations, designating China as a currency manipulator and cracking down on IPR theft. An antagonistic relationship between the US and China will impact India as well.


Till now Trump’s rhetoric has been protectionist, isolationist and often veering towards the extreme as far as US role in geopolitics is concerned. There is a need to wait and watch how the situation unfolds itself in future.