‘It is in the United States’ best interests to help India retain its status’
As such, it is in the United States’ best interests to help India retain its status as a pre-eminent power in South Asia, particularly in view of China’s efforts to bolster its position at the expense of the US and India, it said.
The Hudson Institute think-tank said that at the start of the pandemic, India offered medical assistance to its immediate neighbours and followed vaccine diplomacy in the first three months of 2021 which helped India to project itself as a regional leader, advancing its claim of being a global power in waiting.
Haqqani is currently the director of South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute. Pande is director, Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia at the think-tank.
“The recent surge of COVID-19 in South Asia challenges India’s traditional ability to aid its smaller neighbours, a change that could, in turn, affect India’s influence in its competition with China.
“Unless India can recover from this surge with the help of allies like the United States, the pandemic could impact the Indo-Pacific’s geopolitical balance,” the joint policy memo released by Hudson stated.
Haqqani and Pande wrote that a year-and-a-half after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s footprint in South Asia is larger than it was before. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are deeply in debt to China, having borrowed heavily from it due to the pandemic.
Bipartisan support within the US policy community for India has already mobilised Americans to help India. The Joe Biden administration has sent oxygen concentrators, medicines testing kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment to India, and many US companies and the Indian-American community have rallied to India’s support, the think-tank report stated.
“A mini-trade deal could be offered to signal American support for India’s economic recovery,” the policy memo said.
It recommended the Indian government enforces smart lockdowns, engage in vaccine diplomacy and also bolster ‘Quad’ diplomacy.