A Biden-Harris Administration Spells Steady Continuity in US-India Relations

The new administration is likely to be distracted by domestic circumstances; this could pave the way for a greater Indian agenda-setting role in the Indo-Pacific.

This article was originally published in The Diplomat.

“The question is no longer whether it is in the interest of the United States or India to build a strong relationship […] into the defining partnership of the century ahead. The question is how ambitious and how rapidly are we prepared to build that partnership. And I believe […] we should be bold.” Though Joe Biden made these remarks as vice president during a lunch he hosted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014, they encapsulate his vision for the Indo-U.S. relationship in 2021 and beyond as president of the United States.

Biden has significant familiarity with India, not only through his time as U.S. vice president but also as chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He’s aware of both the potential of and hurdles in growing the United States-India trade and economic relationship, has advocated for enhancing the bilateral strategic partnership and pursuing greater regional coordination, and sought a broader relationship than one just based on security and economics to include people-to-people ties and scientific collaboration, such as on climate change. These themes are also visible in the priorities Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have identified for the Washington-New Delhi relationship going forward.

But overall, the most critical element of the Biden administration’s policies toward India will be continuity with the past. The goal of every U.S. administration since President George W. Bush has been supporting India’s rise as a global power and enhancing its role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region by building India’s material capabilities through arms sales and co-development of weapon systems; enhancing military interoperability with India through exercises and foundational agreements; bringing India to the global high table by supporting its membership in multilateral institutions; and consulting with New Delhi on regional issues of mutual interest.

Read the full article in The Diplomat.

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