As US President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign relations policies start to take shape, India is turning out be one of few countries that will likely benefit from a Trump presidency.

During the presidential campaign trail, Mr Trump struck the right chord with the Hindu community by addressing a Bollywood-themed gathering, in which he called himself a ‘friend of the Hindu’. His remarks were received favourably by some right-wing groups in India, who put their money on a Trump presidency due to a common concern of radical Islam.

In the past, the former businessman expressed confidence that he would get along well with the Indian Prime Minister, which was seen as an early indication of how he viewed India.

 

Concerns over China’s muscle flexing

Mr Trump’s campaign rhetoric on China was anything but polite. The President-in-waiting raised hackles in China during his campaign trail, as he threatened a tariff on Chinese imports to save the American industry if he were to come to power. His other accusation, calling China a currency manipulator, was also a rather confronting way to kick off relations with the Asian heavyweight.

He has shown that he intends to follow up his hostile words on China with actions, much to the anguish of Beijing.

Mr Trump sparked uneasy reactions from Beijing which asked Mr Trump to maintain the diplomatic protocol in place since 1979, after it emerged that he had had a telephonic interaction with Taiwanese president. The US doesn’t recognise Taiwan politically which it only supports militarily, while China considers it as a renegade province and eventual reunification is the stated goal of China.

He also tweeted his displeasure with China’s growing military buildup in the South China Sea, in what provided a glimpse into what US-China relations would look like under Mr Trump.

India’s role would be all the more important if the chasm between China and the US continues to widen. There is a growing perception in both democracies that a militarily strong India could serve as the best counterweight to China, a policy option that Mr Trump is widely expected to consider seriously.

 

Islamophobia

Mr Trump’s calls during the campaign trail to ban Muslim immigration, and his idea to create a database for Muslims living in the US found many takers in India among Hindu nationalists, who themselves have been accused time and again of peddling anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Many right-wing supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will support the idea of a closer US-India alliance under Mr Trump. These supporters also form the core constituency of the Indian Prime Minister.

 

Pakistan

It is safe to say that a friendly phone call between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President-elect Trump was a diplomatic nicety, a one-off thing. Beside the anti-Muslim rhetoric which Mr Trump’s supporter have bought into, a realisation that Pakistan hasn’t done enough to flush out terrorists harbouring in its territory has made American establishment and public wary of Islamabad.

Pakistan’s growing proximity to China, which Mr Trump sees as a military and diplomatic concern, may not help the cause of US-Pakistan relations either.

All these developments are being seen as an opportunity which could tilt US towards India more than ever.