Who will be better for India Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump

Who will be better for India  Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump

If one goes by the views of the expat Indian community in the US, it's a settled debate. A recent survey says an overwhelming 87 per cent of Indian Americans support Clinton, while a minuscule 6 per cent back Trump.

But a more detailed analysis of where they stand on issues of importance to India shows that the issue may not be as simple as that. What are those issues Here's an illustrative list:

  • Easier visa norms for Indian professionals

  • Easier access to the US market for Indian goods

  • Countering the rise of protectionist tendencies in the West

  • Less aggressive US stand on trade-related issues

  • Active support, as opposed to lip service, on combating Pakistan-sponsored terror

  • Greater understanding of India's ties with Iran

On the face of it, most Indian Americans would say, without hesitation, that Clinton would be a better bet for India on all these counts, but the fact remains that except for making some shrill but general statements on turning the US more protectionist, Trump has not really expounded his views on any of the above issues.

Although India now enjoys bipartisan support in the US on a number of issues, it is equally true that many in the Democratic Party still view New Delhi through the prism of the Cold War years. And in Washington, most decisions, except the ones about which the incumbent administration feels very strongly about, are the result of deal making.

While Clinton may personally be willing to support India on a number of issues - note her statement on Pakistan harbouring snakes in its backyard in the context of terrorism - this country is far from being a top-of-the-mind political issue on which she will be willing to spend her political capital if Capitol Hill and the other power centres in Washington are divided on the issue.

Clinton is the quintessential Washington insider. Her track record suggests that she values political expediency over dogma. And as everyone and his uncle knows, most decisions are made in the US capital only after deals are struck between the power brokers who call the shots there. Where does this leave Trump Nowhere at present. His bumptious ways and off-colour comments seem to have turned off all but only his blind supporters. But like George W Bush, in whose blinkered view, India was the “good guy” in a tough neighbourhood and, therefore, eligible for US friendship, Trump may also go the same way.

But will he

That's the million dollar question. The fairest answer is that we don't know. And we won't know till Trump comes clean and speaks his mind clearly.

In this respect, he is no different from his Democratic rival. Clinton, who in trying to be all things to all shades of political opinion, has carefully avoided taking a stand on the issues enumerated above, perhaps because leaning one way would alienate voters sympathetic to the other side. Trump, on the other hand, may not actually have a view - any view - on the matter. So, if one carefully sifts through the evidence and judges the candidates rationally, it is not possible to say who - Clinton or Trump - will be a safer bet for India.

This wouldn't have mattered so much a decade ago. But India Inc. now has deep and broad linkages with the US and the two countries have recently entered into a paradigm-busting strategic clinch that could potentially shape the future of Asia. The best case scenario for India and Indian companies would be business as usual under the next administration but as of now, it is nothing more than a fond hope. But till more clarity emerges on this, Clinton will continue to remain the favourite of the Indian Amercian community.

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