Even as US-India ties are at a crossroads, it must also be accepted that that despite all the concerns, Trump has also done much as any other US President to push the bilateral relationship forward. He has in fact gone further than Barrack Obama, who had designated India a “major defence partner”. Trump has provided India a “strategic defence authorisation” that makes it eligible to receive defence-related technologies that are barred to all but a select few countries. Then, by renaming the Asia-Pacific region and the US's Pacific Command as the Indo Pacific region and the Indo Pacific Command, the Trump administration has accepted the centrality of India in Washington's strategic world view in this region.
Under Trump, the US has also moved from providing lip service support on terrorism to leaning on Pakistan and its benefactor China to ease the pressure on India. And on China, there's certainly better strategic convergence between the two countries. But the problem is that the Indo-US strategic alignment does not demonstrably benefit the common Indian. But punitive actions on trade and the clampdown on H1B and spouse visas, among other trade-related measures, impact many lives - and influence the public and political discourse in India.
At present, the US is viewed very positively in India. But if Trump's trade-related punitive measures lead to business closures and job losses, that could change very fast. And any retaliatory steps by the Modi government will only lead to an upward spiral of trade friction. That's my real concern - that these transactional issues could lead both sides to take their eyes off the big picture. And that could, if it's not brought under control, lead to the biggest missed opportunity of this century. I hope not.