Obama or McCain – who is better for India?
Like much of the world waiting to find out who leads the United States as its president for the next four years, India too looks askance at the mother of all elections.
While some believe India-U.S. relations have evolved to a strategic level where it does not matter who is at the helm of affairs, a debate rages on whether Obama or McCain will be good for the South Asia region, and India in specific.
As in the U.S., in India the balance seems to tilt in favour of Obama. His backers say he will be a welcome change from the stifling neoconservatism of the Bush administration and its heavy-breathing belligerence.
The Times of India newspaper says: “…a McCain win will result in a broad continuation of Bush administration policies…Beyond that, US-India ties, at least from Washington’s perspective, would continue to be largely security driven, subject to conservative impulses arising from fears of an extremist Islamist agenda to India’s west and an expanding Chinese influence everywhere.
“Obama on the other hand promises to be different, he will bring in fresh informed change to the region.”
Obama’s supporters say his political vision is evolved from a more composite understanding of the world, and he is more inclined to engage diplomatically with the Islamic world. This is good for India. The Republicans, on the other hand, are known backers of a militarized Pakistan and historically played the security card in South Asia according to their needs.
But when it comes to key issues such as immigration and outsourcing, McCain seems to score with India.
Obama has spoken of ending tax breaks for companies that ship US jobs overseas – a threat he may not follow through since outsourcing remains a key cost benefit tool for American corporations. But Obama’s supporters say he will be more sympathetic to Indian and other Asian migrants in high professions because he is committed to fairness and to principles of racial diversity.
Not all agree. “Yes, McCain might be more inclined to attack Iran. By the same measure, he would also be more inclined to pressure Pakistan to act on terror by providing a stick as well as a carrot,” writes analyst Dweep Chanana.
“On the economy, Republican presidents have historically been far more supportive of higher work permit quotas for Indian workers, and push more for free trade.”
Obama has voted to reduce the number of H1B visas issued to foreign workers. McCain is said to favour more H1B visas.
Clearly, both have things to offer India. But how wise is predicting U.S. policies for any one particular country when what Obama or McCain will eventually do is, what they perceive is, good for the American people?