Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

Is Trump Risking the Bedrock Principle of the U.S.-India Partnership?

| Mar. 03, 2020

During his state visit to India last week, President Trump focused on promoting our increasingly important strategic relationship with Delhi. Working with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom he shares a populist brand of politics, social media savvy, and a penchant for raucous rallies, Trump rightly emphasized strengthening military ties and a trade and investment partnership that has doubled in recent years.

This new US reliance on India, aimed, in part, at limiting China’s ambitions in the region, enjoys rare bipartisan support at home. It has been a high priority of recent presidents and congressional leaders of both parties. It was also made possible by the shared values between the world’s two strongest democracies — the United States and India — to democracy, the rule of law, and human and religious rights.

Trump’s visit was big news in India but was overshadowed by violent and bloody clashes in Delhi between Hindus and Muslims that left more than 45 dead, primarily Muslims. Many blamed the ruling BJP party’s strident Hindu Nationalist agenda that has made Muslims feel like second-class citizens in their own country. When Trump praised Modi, in the middle of the violence, for upholding religious freedom, he disappointed millions of Indians and weakened the foundation of what has made this two-decade rise in the US-India relationship possible — our shared values.

Modi surprised his country and allies last August when he downgraded Kashmir, previously the only Muslim-majority state in India, to a union territory governed by Delhi. Hundreds of prominent Muslim Kashmiri politicians, business, and social leaders have since been arrested. Internet, cable, and phone connections have been severed to the outside world. A massive curfew is still in place. Kashmir’s political future is in limbo. India’s top military commander suggested recently that recalcitrant Kashmiris be sent to “deradicalization camps,” a gross repudiation of the secular and tolerant values that prevailed in India before Modi came to power.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Kumar, Aditi and Nicholas Burns.“Is Trump Risking the Bedrock Principle of the U.S.-India Partnership?.” The Boston Globe, March 3, 2020.