The US election was a thriller, just as the election in the state of Bihar in India proved to be a cliffhanger. But the similarities seem to end there. In the US, most people seemed to heave a sigh of relief at the restoration of democratic values, whereas in Bihar, time will tell whether or not there will be horse trading or whether the election will lead to lasting peace in the crucial state.
The US election results are expected to change world politics. Global political observers are already speculating as to how beneficial the change will be for India. Some say nothing will change: the President-elect Joe Biden and the Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, though both said to have some India links, will hardly have any time to give special attention to India. They will be too busy tackling the pandemic, which has devastated the country and its economy. The President-elect has already announced to build a high powered team to look into how well Covid 19 can be contained. He has also announced to hold a global summit in the US with all democratic leaders almost immediately after he takes office in January 20, 2021. He has indicated that the US will have to restore its commitment to resist global climate change, something which alarmed the world when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate discussions. These are indications of what the US foreign policy might look under Biden.
Internally, the US elections have revealed that the new President has inherited a deeply polarised country. In his winning speech, he declared “there are no red states, no blue states but only a united states. “ A woman of colour being the vice president has created history and signals a message to a country suffering from racial tensions. Biden said he was the President not only of the Democrats but also of the Republicans who did not vote for them and it was his duty to look after them, too. These words are bound to have an impact in the internal administration of all democratic countries including India. In fact, the prime minister of India is expected to attend the US summit of democratic countries and it will be interesting to watch how Narendra Modi will react to issues like Kashmir and accusations of the violations of human rights in Uttar Pradesh and other states.
Among the expectations, India can of course look forward to the restoration of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in trade, which eliminates a lot of duties on Indian products and which President Trump had repealed in spite of his apparent bonhomie with Narendra Modi. India is also expecting the clearance of Indian farm products in the US market. The US has already shifted its friendship from Pakistan to India in the previous years of diplomacy, knowing fully well that to keep China in its place the US needs the help of India, not Pakistan. India is already in the process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a move clearly aimed at containing China. In spite of the rumours that Biden is ally of China, he has already committed to the people of the US that he will have to be firm against the Chinese aggressive moves. The new President cannot slacken the US's stand on China even if he wants to. Only he perhaps will not be abusive like President Trump about China but be more diplomatic in his expressions. To tackle China, the US now knows that it will need India’s support and therefore India can look forward to the restoration of GSP.