Trump drives a stake through the Indian tech-settlers’ mindset and Modi’s

Just returned from an extended session this morning on News X TV channel covering Donald Trump’s 1st State of the Union address to the US Congress. Firstly, not sure why the Indian media is stuck on covering purely internal American events with often embarrassing interest, unless, of course, they mean to cater  to the aspirational middle class in small and big Indian towns and cities who hope, somehow, to secure a ticket to the land of their dreams. That ticket, in recent times has been provided by the H1B or L-1 visa, which immigration channel; has buttressed the traditional longstanding route into the US — the I-20 student visa.

What few Indian commentators understand  and have, therefore, not noted is that the chief attraction for these would-be Indian “economic refugees” to America of once settling down there is the “family reunification” provision open to any legal migrant. This has been used by several generations of Indians to cart not just their spouses but the extended family into the US, namely,   parents, parents-in-law, siblings of either or both sides. On average, a single Indian immigrant can thus take an additional 10-12 persons with him. That door is now getting shut.

Trump has declared in his address that his immigration policy will allow persons with merit to legally come into America but not immigrants who can’t fend for themselves economically or are otherwise unable to contribute in a substantive way to the US. AS he said, he will especially bar the group of people seeking to migrate to the US who will end up being  a burden on the social and public services of that country.

Foreign Secretary Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will try and modify that stance by emphasizing, as newspaper reports suggest, the wealth the HiB/L1 visa holders create and their contribution to the US economy and hence the advisability of retaining, if not enlarging, these entry channels. This will not cut mustard with the Trump Administration.

But let’s assume for argument’s sake that Washington stays its hand on closing down the H1B/L1 route, how motivated will potential Indian immigrants to America be once they discover they can’t import a whole bunch of their family members into the US? I suspect there will be a definite falloff of interest.

That said, this is a great opportunity for the Modi government to reverse its fairly foolish  policy of encouraging an ever bigger Indian brain drain to the US and the West in the hope of using the thus expanding Indian population in the US, in particular, as political and diplomatic leverage, and as external support base able to support the Bharat Janata Party monetarily. But Trump’s rejection of free trade and the notion of competitive advantage of countries as driver of international commerce means he will be more than happy to see still larger quantities of the sorts of things the Modi government seems keen on acquiring — old weapons (M-777 ULH) and platforms (F-16), but not let up or give even an inch to other countries. As he pointedly reminded his audience worldwide — “I have been elected to be President of America”, not president of the world.

And India can expect no real help or assistance to counter China or contain terrorism emanating from Pakistan or elsewhere beyond Trump’s interpretation of US interests, and he will expect India to pay for every little bit of security it gains therefrom! The US president had made plain that Asian partners, allies, friends will all have to ante up monies, there being no such thing as free security, any more than there’s “free lunch”.

If Modi and his PMO, and  Jaishankar and Co. at MEA haven’t grasped this essential, fundamentally changed, reality, then there’s lots more New Delhi is going to keep getting wrong to the nation’s detriment. To repeat what I have said in previous posts, PM Modi, adapting himself to the new conditions, should prepare for hard, and possibly futile, negotiation in which because Trump will not concede even a sliver of advantage. The question is will, can, Modi rein in his fascination with America, and his apparently natural inclination to please Westerners, long enough to prevent Trump having his way with India?

Trump’s “Make in America, Buy American” call is clear indication of his intent. The trouble is Modi’s “Make in India”, whatever its intent, for all practical purposes, translates into “Buy American” and assemble the product in India! GOI better get into its head that hereafter the only way the national interest will be served is to match the Trump Administration and be severely transactional which, realistically, may be beyond Modi to manage.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in arms exports, Asian geopolitics, China military, Culture, Decision-making, Defence Industry, domestic politics, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian ecobomic situation, Indian Politics, MEA/foreign policy, Military Acquisitions, Military/military advice, NRIs, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, United States, US., Weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Trump drives a stake through the Indian tech-settlers’ mindset and Modi’s

  1. Atul says:

    Trump gave an example of Harley Davidson people coming to meet him and telling that global tax rates were unfair to American companies. They said in one country the tax on importing motorcycles was 100 percent which is absolutely unfair !!!!

    Guess which country that is with100 % tax on importing motor vehicles ??? India.
    So!!!! Be ready for the real Trump drama in backroom negotiations with India !!

  2. raj says:

    wasn’t the state of the union. just an address to a joint session on congress. trump doesnt understand governance nor does he understand policy. look to miller and bannon and tillerson on issues such as immgration and trade. look to trump for useless tweeting.

    • Not so. Miller, Tillerson, Bannon you mention are all Trump’s hires, and Trump always keeps his hires in their place. He is no fount of ideas, but he goes by his instincts, which will outline his policies. His hires will flesh them out.

  3. Socho says:

    Russia has now realized how selfish India is!

    Narendra modi now bribes USA in the form of a decision to buy spyware-infested american junk weaponry costing billions of dollars without any tender.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      Everybody is selfish including the Russians. More correctly, the Russians have realized that the Indian system has been compromised beyond all hope, and India is now and for the foreseeable future a US vassal state (something marginally above what the Philippines under Marcos were, but quite a bit below Pakistan’s status during its tenure as a US vassal state). Indo-Russian business will continue, but it may not be “business as before”.

  4. &^%$#@! says:

    Talks abut the “Great India link in the global supply chain” have commenced from the usual quarters.

  5. Socho says:

    Asked if India will also increase the range of the Agni-V missile, which can reach targets as far Beijing with a range of over 5,000 km, Christopher denied it.

    “We may not do it because it can antagonise someone,” he said without naming any country.
    What he deliberately did not mention was that someone was none other than usa and UK. So called freind friend and new ally of India the allies who unlike Russia always hindered Indian military capability.

    This is the level of Indian impotency before The angkoanericans.
    India can openly aggravate China by saying that her missile is being specific but can not increase missile range for fear of west.


    In an effort to move closer to the U.S., the Vajpayee government had considered sending troops to Iraq in 2003, but aborted the move after domestic opposition. that is Iraq which was a secular state and the most friendly state in middle east towards India was betrayed by Indians at the smallest bribery of west to change sides .
    India is an untrustworthy nation.Full stop.

    Narendra modi now gives bribes to usa in form of immediate decisipn to buy spy infested american junk weaponary costing billions of dollars all within 2 years without any tender.


    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””” CCCC


  6. Socho says:


    19 /02/2017

    Pranab grounded UPA plan to privatise Air India


    As an Indian I can say that ever since MM Singh became an unelected prime minister the India govt has been bootlicking Americans so much so that today any PM who goes to America first bribes with billion dollars worth of contract for junk military hardware.That has been going on for a decade now.
    Russia has no obligation to India. If India can tolerate Americans funding Pakistani military build-up then why should Russia deny friendship with Pakistan? Russia must reconsider giving the S-400 and 5th generation war planes to India. Besides Indians elites are salivating with the prospect of bribes in pushing for old F-16s anyway.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      India was bootlicking the US even in the India Shining” days of Bharat Ratna ABV.

      • Socho says:

        “Atal bihari vajpayee took bribe and even let UK criminal Peter Bleach, just before general election in 2004, who was main guy in Puralia Arms Drop case. With corrupt neta-IAS-SCjs, UK sees no reason to give anti-India criminals to India.

        By handing over Nadim, the message UK would have sent is “see anti-Indian criminals, we cant protect you anymore”. This will cost them dearly in international arena. And giving bribe to IPS-IAS-SCjs-neta is cheaper option than handing away criminals like Nadim. “

  7. Mr Karnad,

    You have lived in USA as a student and have visited their often. Don’t you find it to be a country of immigrants from across the world?

    I am doubtful if any Trump introduced immigration orders will be long lasting after his departure as the deeply divided debate in USA evidently suggests, Trump does not have a free ride. His lecture to the media was a reflection of his weakness in this front, not his strength.

    As far a Indian immigration to west is concerned, it is a result of our insistance on English only professional higher education and lack of economic opportunities back home.

    I agree that this desire to be part of Anglosphere in our elite is misplaced. But I won’t be too surprised if in another two decades China becomes a destination for young Indian talent.

    In the meanwhile I think any restrictions on work permits for technology sector is bad for trade in short term and it remains to be seen what GOI does to avert it.

    • Yes, I spent my young adulthood years in California and the US. It was a wonderful time for me and, to twist that old saw a bit, all my best friends are Americans. But what I learned from my more serious period in graduate school — taught by, and closely interacting with, some of the great Cold War theorists, strategists and modelers — Bernard Brodie, Albert Wohlstetter, Michael Intrilligator, Malcolm Hoag, et al, is how central to national security concerns is ‘national interest’ and why a country should scruple at nothing to realize, pursue, and advance it. It is the sole metric that, I’d like to believe, I have single-mindedly used in thinking and writing about India’s strategic problems, positions, policies, and posture.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        Bharat, you knew Wohlstetter? He was a legend at the RAND Corp.

      • Brodie and Wohlstetter were polar opposites in strategic theorizing, the former believed in the traditional method of historical analysis (of which I am a votary) and the latter emphasized the certitude in quantitative methods, and it was fun to see them go at each other at UCLA and in various forums in Southern California — this was the early 1970s. I was then part of the RAND-UCLA Arms Control Simulation Unit and interacted with Wohlstetter on several occasions as grad-student member of the California Arms Control Seminar — a really high-powered and prestigious strategic forum involving universities and thinktanks, including RAND.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        Wohlstetter’s work “Systems Analysis versus Systems Design” is still considered by many to be a classic in decision theory.

      • Socho says:

        Good for you.
        But rand corporation is a typical Jewish organisation to justify anglosaxon bullying of the world.
        It is a race war by england on all nonanglo races of the world whom england and her 5 eyes want to be subjugated to Anglos interests.
        Incidently Henry Kissinger the war monger was praising British method saying that they followed exactly what is written in Sanskrit book “Panch tantra” he highly reccomded it two years ago.
        I always say that Indians need to know not fraudulent Anglos sponsored econo.ics or politics but simply live as taught in “Panchtantra”.

  8. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    You are indulging in unnecessary self-flagellation.

    Russians too need to get out of its India hangover for their benefits. Russians and Chinese give less importance to overseas netagiri and are more concerned about weaving up a strong base of contiguous areas. You should not be surprised if Russians themselves have already begun salivating at the upcoming new world order where Russians and Chinese control all the usable lands in Asia and Africa and nearly all the resources in these lands, all the while keeping disparate allies, like Western europe and Japanese on a tight leash. India is just a diversion for them in all this. And you should not be surprised if the Pakis, this time play their cards better and end up better stabalized while all the angst gets directed towards India from all side.

    Any individual or group of individuals would have thanked their lucky stars if they were not invaded between 1950 and 2000, which coincidentally was the period large number of countries pulled themselves out of the misery and general un-important-ness. All these countries have today become power centres (military &/or economic). India missed that bus due to several reasons. I am sure we will get there too. Only worry is at what cost and to what benefits. Because the very same future that has grounded the vaunted Japanese naval power to pichkari wars in Senkaku or that has put the western europe into an energy dependency can actually make India dependent on the same ‘wells of power’. May be Modi and his team of avengers, know this and which is why they are so upbeat on Solar power and climate negotiations and LED bulbs.

    What you are perceiving as dishonesty may actually be simple self interest on both parts. For Russians it is important not having to tie up their foreign policy to whims of India. For ‘Indians’ the FDI from ‘western’ countries may be more important. For Indians though both may be unimportant side shows with no real importance for the man on the streets.

  9. Keaton S says:

    Thanks for ssharing this

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