IDAS 2018 India Studies Serial Workshop

Taiwan Fellow, Dr. Sumit Kumar, discusses U.S.-India Relations under the Trump Administration

[alaya_dropcap]T[/alaya_dropcap]his spring, National Chengchi University’s International Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies (IDAS) welcomes 2018 Taiwan Visiting Fellow, Dr. Sumit Kumar (PhD). Dr. Kumar is a Research Fellow at the Chennai Centre for China Studies at Pondicherry University in Chennai, India. For Dr. Kumar, this is his first time in Taiwan and his first academic venture abroad. With sponsorship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Kumar hopes to have a fruitful academic experience in Taiwan to enrich his academic interests in India-Taiwan relations, South Asia security, and Indian foreign policy.

On Thursday, May 10th, 2018, IDAS hosted an India studies serial workshop to introduce Dr. Kumar to the faculty, staff, and students of the program. The theme of the workshop held in the English Corner on the 12thfloor of the General Building was U.S.-India Relations under the Trump Administration. Dr. Kumar led an insightful workshop by providing an extensive and concise overview of U.S.-India relations as well as challenges and resolutions that have occurred between the two democratic nations.

Dr. Kumar noted four significant phases of the development of U.S.-India relations. The first phase Dr. Kumar discussed was 1947 to 1962. This phase was characterized as the post-colonial phase in which the United States expressed support for India’s independence. This phases transitioned into phase two, which lasted from 1962 to 1980, with the onset of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Despite initial U.S. offering of military support to India, Dr. Kumar describes the relationship as one of separation in which structural and international events exacerbated this separation. Such events include the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1965 and 1971 and India’s first successful nuclear weapons test in 1974. According to Dr. Kumar, the third phase (from the 1980s to 1998) of U.S.-India relations features significant agreements in the areas of science, technology, and defense between the two nations; however, issues of human rights in Kashmir and further nuclear weapons tests facilitated tensions within their relationship. The final phase, from 1998 to present day, can be described as a phase of significant change that has led to the highest point of relations between the two nations in 2008, while marked sources of dispute the H-1B visa policies of the Trump Administration.

Overall, Dr. Kumar expects the U.S.-India relationship to strengthen under the Trump administration. According to Dr. Kumar, both the U.S. and India share common concerns regarding China, especially its role in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. With the U.S. restoring the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, India perceives this as the U.S. focusing on an Indo-Pacific rules based order. Dr. Kumar also identified common interests shared between the two nations. One being concerns over Pakistan and its support of terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Another interest that both nations share is a desire for greater military cooperation. While he remains optimistic of U.S.-India relations, Dr. Kumar did suggest that economic concerns, H-1B visa concerns, and statements made about India by U.S. officials may be flashpoints in the relationship moving forward.

In a final Q&A session, Dr. Kumar answered questions over the Modi-Xi summit in late April, India’s foreign policy strategy, and India’s perception of Taiwan’s role in its Indo-Pacific strategy. In his answer to the question regarding the Modi-Xi summit, Dr. Kumar suggested that the meeting between the two leaders was sought out by China due to the current trade war between it and the U.S. He also suggests that many officials in India do not trust Chinese leader Xi Jinping. However, the U.S. has publicly expressed support for such a meeting. Regarding India’s foreign policy strategy, Dr. Kumar stressed that India seeks a multi-alignment strategy and is most certainly not neutral as it may have been during its past non-alignment strategy during the Cold War. Although India expresses deep concerns over China’s increasing economic and political clout, it ultimately seeks to find ways to work with nations it has concerns with. Finally, Dr. Kumar described Taiwan as a part of India’s Indo-Pacific strategy in which India seeks a strong, secure Taiwan in the future. As the attendants of the workshop learned, Dr. Kumar has plenty of insightful knowledge to share regarding India’s foreign policy and his contribution to knowledge of South Asian security issues will be indispensable.

Dr. Kumar can be reached via email at sumitjha83@gmail.com