India and Indian Americans have assumed a new salience in this strangest of US presidential elections.
In a first for a US presidential candidate, Trump attended an Indian-American event organised by the Republican Hindu Coalition for Kashmiri Pundits and Bangladeshi Hindu terrorist victims a while ago.
He termed India as a “key strategic ally” and promised that if voted to power, India and the US would become “best friends” and have a “phenomenal future” together.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for leading India to a fast-track growth path through a series of economic reforms, and reforming the bureaucracy, Trump declared himself “a big fan of Hinduism” and “a big fan of India”.
Despite an impression that Trump enjoys widespread support among the Indian-American community, recent surveys indicate that more than 67 percent of Indian Americans supported Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton while only a measly 7 percent voted for Trump in the primaries. Moreover, a whopping 79 percent of Indian Americans had an unfavourable view of the New York billionaire.
Trump’s sexist and racist rants have also led an Indian-American monthly publication, India Currents, to endorse a US presidential candidate for the first time in three decades. It asked its readers to vote for Clinton.
She is seen as a safer bet for India and Indian Americans. Her long-standing ties with India and her role in bringing the country to the centrestage of American strategic calculus in the Indo-Pacific region as Obama’s Secretary of State have endeared her to the Indian strategic community.