Head On Collision Of Trump’s ‘Making America Great’ And Modi’s ‘Make In India?’
- Trump is an extrovert nationalist wanting to make his mark in history
- Modi wants India to be a world power
- The Indian government wants more visas
Minds may be great but personalities, their interests and objectives may clash.
Whether the minds of the present American and Indian leaders are great or small is subject to controversy in their own countries and their personalities and interests are similar. But their interests are likely to clash.
With the emergence of the unpredictable Donald Trump as President Indian business as well as tens of thousands of Indians would have been hoping against hope that the steady buildup of Indo-American relations – since the commencement of the waning of their former ally the Soviet Union – would not be jeopardised. Trump’s unorthodox and rash – if not outrageous – proposals made during his election campaign, it was hoped, was mere election rhetoric and that he would follow the established guidelines of former presidents whether they be Democratic or Republican. But White House occupancy has not changed Trump. He is going ahead with most of the policies he outlined in the election campaign.
Trump is an extrovert nationalist wanting to make his mark in history. Modi is the same. In the most powerful democracy – it’s a one man show. So is it in the most populous democracy. However, their two main policy thrusts clash:-Immigration and foreign investments.
Trump’s campaign slogan was: Make America Great Again. Modi wants India to be a world power. His strategy is: Make in India.
To make America great, Trump has already commenced twisting the arm of big business companies that have set up subsidiary companies in countries – where labour is cheap to make great profits – brought back to America. This is a severe blow to Modi’s: Make in India strategy for it prevents big foreign direct investments coming into India. It also knocks out a main prong of Indian exports: computer software and Indian technology expertise.
An executive order of President Trump last week calls for a report to be made within 9 months on the injuries caused to American workers by several working visa categories including the H-IB Visa and reconsideration on how to allocate to ensure they go to the best and brightest. Most Indians working in America are holders of the H-IB category visa. America grants 85,000 visas for a year that are open to a broad range of occupations and recipients, who can stay on for 6 years. Most of these occupations are related to technology and about 70 percent of recipients are Indians, according to reports from India.
The Indian government wants more visas and when visa fees were hiked in 2015, the Indian government challenged the United States in the World Trade Organisation considered to be a very rare occurrence.
$108 billion sales to US
According to a report of the national Association of Software and Service Companies, an Indian Industry lobby group more than 60 per cent of India’s $ 108 billion sales last year in foreign tech and outsourcing was in the United States.
The recent ban on citizens of seven specified Muslim countries entering the United States did not affect India although it did result in severe demonstrations being staged across the America with the established American media firing all guns on their president. It did show strong resistance to this ban whether it was inspired by national security, racism or creating more jobs. However opinion polls indicated support for the president’s move ranging from 55 % to 49% while the CNN poll gave 53% to the Opposition and 47% in favour of Trump’s move.
The irrepressible Trump claimed that ban was the most popular move he had made.
After Trump’s ban on entry to the United States, the stock market indicators for America’s business giants like Microsoft, Apple, Google that depended on the immigrant work force very much plunged and these organisations protested; many of their employees being prevented from entering the country.
New Delhi and even the Indian media are keeping a restrained silence perhaps hoping that Trump will be forced to regret the decision.
The question for the future is whether Trump’s main thrust: Make America Great Again will have a head on collision with Modi’s Make in India?
South Asian policy
What of Donald Trump’s South Asian policy? India, Pakistan and all other countries in the region undoubtedly have been trying to figure it out without much success. Some analysts say that Trump has no definite policy on any given subject because Trump is his own policy maker – a One Man Show. Others say that his cabinet is not yet firmly established and that it will take time. Meanwhile Trump announces his policies/ thoughts/ inspirations/whimsies, on Twitter, in public speeches and in telephone conversations with foreign leaders.
He spoke with Narendra Modi four days after his inauguration. However, there was no hard news that emanated in press releases of both sides. Trump emphasised that Washington considered India as a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world. He was looking forward to Modi’s visit to America later this year. The only redeeming feature for Indians appeared to be his declaration that America would ‘stand shoulder to shoulder’ in the fight against terrorism.
Trump and Pakistan
Trump’s call on December 2 last year to Pakistan President Nawaz Sharif however was like throwing a cat among the pigeons of New Delhi.
During his election campaign he had said that Pakistan was a ‘very, very vital problem’ particularly with regard to nuclear power. However, in his call to Nawaz Sharif he said: ‘you are a terrific guy… I am looking forward to see you soon…… your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities…Pakistanis are the most intelligent people. I am willing and ready to play a role to address and find solutions to outstanding problems……’
Sometime later he offered his assistance help resolve the Kashmir dispute ignoring India’s unshakable stand: Kashmir is an integral part of India and that there can be no third party involvement.
The exclusion of Pakistan from the list of countries whose citizens are banned from entering the United States, also seem to surprise Indian commentators who consider Pakistan as ‘a cradle of terrorism.’
Donald Trump is ‘a mystery wrapped up in an enigma’ as we said in these columns some time ago.