International

Trump’s policy towards India is abdication of leadership: Ami Bera

Ami Bera. File

Ami Bera. File  

Mr. Bera’s remarks were made during a call with reporters as part of outreach to the AAPI community for former Vice-President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign for the presidency — which Mr. Bera is supporting.

As election season gets under way in the U.S., Congressman Ami Bera called the Trump policy towards developments in India such as Kashmir and the “citizenship test” an “abdication of American leadership”. Mr. Bera’s remarks were made during a call with reporters as part of outreach to the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community for former Vice-President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign for the presidency — which Mr. Bera is supporting.

As the new head of the important U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, Mr. Bera’s comments have significance for U.S.–India relations. The Subcommittee, under its former chairman Brad Sherman, held a hearing on Kashmir following Parliament’s abrogation of Article 370 last year.

“The Trump administration has been wholly silent on some of what’s happened in Kashmir as well as some of what’s happening with the citizenship test. Under a normal administration, America would be using its influence and dialogue in opening those channels of communication,” Mr. Bera said, reiterating that India’s strength is its secular democracy.

“I would argue that India should not lose that secular democracy because that is what separates it from other states and other countries. You don’t hear Donald Trump out there talking about it or even Secretary Pompeo. I think it’s not up to us to tell other countries what to do but with strong allies, we certainly can have those conversations and that dialogue,” he said.

The Congressman also confirmed that he had conveyed his concerns — particularly on Kashmir being opened up to the press and diplomats — to the Indian government privately, in addition to using public channels.

Criticism from the U.S. has rankled India, which views the Kashmir issue and citizenship-related policies and legislation (the National Register of Citizens or NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA) as internal matters. While in Washington last month for the India-U.S. 2+2 dialogue, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had cancelled a meeting with Democrat Congresswoman of Indian origin, Pramila Jayapal. Who had introduced a resolution in the House asking India to lift the restrictions in Kashmir that had been instituted following the abrogation of Article 370.

He also said that there was bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for a strong U.S.- India relationship.

“Vice-President Biden, President Obama talked about... the U.S.- India relationship potentially being the defining relationship in the 21st Century,” Mr. Bera said.

On Biden

Mr. Bera said the Trump administration family immigration – an important issue for the AAPI community. Mr. Biden would “probably reverse” some of the policies that the Trump administration put in to restrict the spouses of H-1b workers from working, as per Mr Bera.

Certain H1-b spouses (H4 visa holders) were allowed to apply for work permits under the Obama administration. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Trump administration has proposed restricting the ability of H4 visa holders to work, although a final rule on this is yet to be published.

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Printable version | Feb 16, 2020 11:49:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trumps-police-towards-india-is-abdication-of-leadership-ami-bera/article30636551.ece

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