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New challenges: On India and Joe Biden

The Editorial covers GS paper 2 [Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests]

On Independence Day, Biden's promises to India, Indian-Americans - The Week


With the late night call on Tuesday between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President-elect Joseph Biden done, Indian and U.S. officials can begin their formal interactions on the future of bilateral relations.

What are the priorities?

  • The two leaders listed out their priorities, according to separate statements issued by the External Affairs Ministry and the Biden-Harris transition team.

  • According to the readouts, the leaders committed to strengthening the Indo-U.S. Comprehensive “Global” Strategic Partnership, and cooperating on global challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, affordable vaccines, climate change and the Indo-Pacific region.

  • Mr. Biden’s readout also included “strengthening democracy at home and abroad”, which was dropped from the MEA version, indicating New Delhi’s discomfort.

  • Critical and recent comments made by Mr. Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris over J&K, the CAA and actions against NGOs should not make the Modi government shy from engaging with the U.S. on these issues.

  • Most remarkably, the leaders did not dwell on traditional security issues, global terrorism, conflict regions or even trade, but instead charted areas for Indo-U.S. cooperation that are more in line with their current challenges and indicate Mr. Biden’s own immediate priorities.

  • On COVID-19, Mr. Biden and Mr. Modi have their work cut out, given that the U.S. (over 11 million cases) and India (over 8 million cases) remain the top two worst-affected countries, and showing daily increases.

  • Making affordable vaccines available to their afflicted (harmed) populations will be the immediate challenge.

What are the Highlights?

  • On the need for economic recovery, their projected policies do not appear to be too divergent (different).

  • Unveiling his administration’s economic revival policy, Mr. Biden announced a plan to “Buy American”, and to ensure no government contract goes to companies that do not make their products in America.

  • The Modi government has already launched its “Atmanirbhar Bharat” programme on similar lines.

  • External Affairs Minister of India making it clear that the globalised economy and trading arrangements have been assessed as detrimental(harmful) to India’s manufacturing industry.

  • On climate change, a decision by the U.S. to re-enter the Paris Accord will be welcomed by India, that is also hoping to promote cooperation on the International Solar Alliance that it co-founded in 2016 with France.

  • But it is unclear if Mr. Biden would revive the earlier U.S. promises of funding green technology that Mr. Trump cancelled when he walked out of the Paris Accord.


  • Finally, it is significant that Mr. Biden expressed his commitment to the Indo-Pacific policy, but New Delhi will be keen to see just what shape the new administration intends to take in its measures to maintain a “secure and prosperous” Indo-Pacific, and how far the Biden Administration will challenge China’s moves in the region.

  • India must not fight shy of engaging with the Biden administration on contentious issues.

Source: The Hindu.