U.S. policy may see more consistency without dependence on personalised summits
For India, these could include the U.S.’s return to the Paris climate accord, which would help with its energy transformation, and a return to Iran nuclear negotiations, which will facilitate its regional connectivity ambitions. He is unlikely to reverse the Afghan pullout and instead might make it a more measured exit. On China, he is likely to adopt a less confrontational attitude while maintaining a pushback. Where he will no doubt press a hard nerve is on the issues of human rights, Jammu and Kashmir, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, given a policy paper his campaign released in June 2020 that quoted him as being “disappointed”. But these are more likely to be areas of engagement, and New Delhi should be prepared to hold its own in tough conversations on these sensitive issues. Mr. Biden’s presidency promises a change in leadership style, with broader powers to advisers and process-driven decisions. His belief in building up U.S. traditional trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific alliances might be at odds with America’s more transactional trends. No sudden moves such as Mr. Trump’s withdrawal of India’s GSP export status may be expected, and policy consistency is likely to be preferred to a more personalised summit style. Above all, as New Delhi prepares to adjust its responses to the new dispensation, it would welcome Mr. Biden’s stated intention to re-energise the multilateral global order, and to restore the U.S.’s position in “leading not by the example of [its] power, but by the power of example”.
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