In the run-up to the cacophonic, if not bitterly divisive, US presidential election, Dold Trump sought to reach out to the sizeable Indian-American electorate with his professed admiration for rendra Modi, a rallying cry of ‘Abki baar, Trump sarkar’ and the promise that they would not have a better friend than him at the White House. While it is surmised that the overwhelming majority of Indian-Americans voted for Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, how Trump’s shock win impacts Indian immigrants in US and bilateral relations with India will bear close watching in the coming days. The anger of the American underclass, primarily whites lacking higher education, came through loud and clear in this campaign. As in Britain, France and several other European countries, there has been a rising tide in the US against globalization gone sour. As tive workers see jobs going to other countries, or worse, being taken away by immigrants at home — talking of ideals like free trade, open borders and multiculturalism only add fuel to the fire. Even as he sent the Republican Party into convulsions with brash rhetoric and outright insults to its top leaders, Dold Trump seized its candidature by tapping into the widespread angst in US farms and factories. He targeted Mexican immigrants as crimils, Muslims as potential terrorists and mimicked the accent of Indian call centre workers servicing US firms — while critics despaired over the xenophobia and misogyny he was unleashing. In hindsight, it is no surprise that Trump struck a chord with slogans like ‘America First’ and ‘Making America great again’. What will be of immediate interest for New Delhi is the Trump administration’s stand on H1B visa regime, under which thousands of Indian techies are working in the US. Expectedly, Trump on the campaign trail railed against American firms moving their manufacturing bases abroad. In concrete terms though, he promised to slash corporate taxes and ease regulations for business; if American firms are drawn back home with these incentives, it will mean uncertain times for their Indian establishments here.
Having so tellingly projected himself as ‘The Outsider’ taking on a ‘corrupt’ Washington elite, a ‘rigged’ election system and a ‘biased’ media, Dold Trump has already made some conciliatory gestures as he gets ready to enter the White House. But given his colorful background and unconventiol ways, he remains an unpredictable quantity for most political and diplomatic observers. He has been warm to Russia and its president Vladimir Putin, bellicose towards Chi for its ‘unfair trading and currency manipulation’, scornful of the nuclear deal with Iran and has threatened to obliterate the ISIS. In fact, his threats to uproot Islamic radicals from American soil and block immigration from war-torn Middle East tions have received strong support not only in the US, but also in Europe and countries as far afield as India. However, he has also dubbed global warming and climate change a ‘hoax’, triggering fears that he may well act on his threat to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal that President Barack Obama had worked so hard to bring about. Even if Trump desists from such a drastic step that will require four years as per terms of the treaty, he may stonewall its funding component. Trump has not been very clear or consistent about his foreign policy, but has campaigned for an isolationist US. Not only has he talked of junking defense treaties with US allies like Japan and South Korea, he has shown little faith even in the TO and American role in it. Meanwhile, he has threatened to tear up trade deals in which the US finds itself on backfoot, and has stoked protectionist sentiments at home with his rhetoric. A fortress America with immigration and trade walls up under Dold Trump, a deeply divided European Union yet to come to terms with Britain’s exit, a newly assertive Russia and steadily rising Chi — all combine to present a challenging diplomatic chequerboard that New Delhi will have to negotiate to its advantage in the near future.