Deal With Trump, Also With Congress
All the institutions of democracy matter
US President Donald Trump has made it clear that his administration is focused on putting America First. This is not a radical departure. President Trump’s predecessors too put the interests of the United States at the heart of their engagement with the world. Keeping the interests of the country and its people front and centre is the compass that guides every democratically elected head of state and government.
Over the last few decades, successive administrations have built a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States, irrespective of the party in power in Washington or New Delhi. The tempo of the relationship manifested through increased trade, strategic partnerships and bilateral cooperation needs to be sustained. New Delhi needs to analyse Trump and his domestic appeal to identify opportunities for India to partner with the US in a manner that is beneficial to both countries. The Trump administration is still feeling its way, and India needs to seize this opportunity to focus on the areas where both countries can work together. Challenges like terrorism, globalisation and investments will require countries to work together, and New Delhi needs to ensure that its interests are protected as Trump seeks to define his administration’s outlook on these issues. New Delhi must have the relationship with the Trump administration so that it can weigh in and put its point of view across, and negotiate with it when required.
Democracy is protected through its institutions, and the first four weeks of the Trump presidency have made it abundantly clear that institutions in the United States are alive to their responsibility. Countries like India that have been important partners and allies of the United States need to work with the newest occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to ensure that mutual interest, benefit and progress continue to be the leitmotif of the bilateral relationship. That requires a thorough understanding of Donald Trump and the ethos of his administration, as well as engaging directly with other institutions, such as Congress.