Despite choosing a record number of Indian-Americans as part of his administration, Joe Biden, 46th US President, has said that he will keep "American interests" in mind when dealing with India, which will mark a departure from his predecessor Donald Trump's approach, according to experts who say that policy makers both in India and the US are eager to know what Washington's policy towards India will be.
"The presence of a large number of Indian-Americans may ensure greater knowledge of relevant issues but will not determine policy. They will faithfully execute the President’s agenda as loyal American citizens. Unlike during the Trump administration, policy toward India will proceed from careful deliberation and thought rather than be the result of the President’s personal whims, fancies and vagaries," Sumit Ganguly, Political Science Professor at Indiana University told Sputnik.
The professor was commenting on the fact that President Biden has chosen 20 Indian-Americans to join his administration, including Neera Tanden as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and Dr Vivek Murthy as 21st US Surgeon General. Vanita Gupta is Associate Attorney General and Uzra Zeya as Under-Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights.
On Thursday, Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, while talking about Vice-President Kamala Harris, who is herself an Indian American, said that the new administration will continue to “respect and value the long, bipartisan and successful relationship between leaders in India and the United States.”
Policy watchers in New Delhi are expecting stronger ties with the Biden administration than they have had so far, as the stock of Indian-Americans has been rising since 2020 with four Indian-Americans re-elected to Congress and 12 more elected to state legislative positions.
"Many Indian-Americans filling key positions in the Biden government show their growing clout domestically in American life. A huge number of Indian-Americans identify with Democrats and a small chunk with Republicans. They have heavily voted for the Democrats. However, representation from these people will not have any dramatic effect or any bearing on Indo-US ties," Harsh V Pant, Director, Studies and Head Strategic Studies Programme at think tank Observer Research Foundation told Sputnik.
In contrast, not many Indian-Americans were part of the Trump administration. In fact, most positions were held by white Americans although, two important personnel had Indian roots: Nikki Haley - the US Ambassador to the United Nations - and Seema Verma who was one of Trump's close confidants on healthcare and was part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Pant said: "There weren't many representatives from this ethnic group in the Trump administration as the Republican Party is perceived to be unwelcoming to minorities. The few who were associated with the party were primarily so because they differ with Democrats in economic and healthcare policy."
Around 30 Indian-Americans held important positions spread over State, Treasury, Defence and Commerce departments during Barack Obama's time as president, during which Biden served as vice-president.
"The Indian diaspora is among the most highly educated ethnic groups. Indian-American representation in the Biden administration will generate goodwill between India and America. Even though Indian-Americans comprise about 1 percent of the total US population, it is a recognition that Indian immigrants are rocketing to the top in the country," Delhi University's Professor Ashutosh Jha declared.