Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to speak with U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday in a conversation that will set the tone for future relations.New Delhi hopes it can begin to decipher what the country’s top diplomat, S. Jaishankar, last week called a world in 2017 filled with “known and unknown unknowns”—a reflection on the rapidly-changing global landscape marked by Mr. Trump’s presidency in the U.S., turmoil in Europe and rising Chinese power.
Here are five things Mr. Modi will likely be listening for.
Mr. Trump has vowed to be tough on terror, a goal he shares with Mr. Modi. But it isn’t clear how that will shape the new U.S. administration’s views on Pakistan, India’s rival neighbor that Mr. Modi has called the epicenter of global terrorism.India’s security establishment will be watching to see if Mr. Trump puts greater pressure on Pakistan to stamp out terrorist groups on its soil and whether U.S. supply of aid and weapons to Islamabad, a long-standing thorn in India-U.S. ties, will diminish.Mr. Trump’s Pakistan policy will depend in large part on his approach to the conflict in Afghanistan, another big unknown Indians will be looking for more clarity on.
India is closely watching for clues on how Mr. Trump plans to tackle China, given the new U.S. president’s combative tone toward Beijing. A more-assertive China has in recent years driven closer U.S.-India collaboration on defense and security issues. In an address last week, Mr. Modi, without naming China, spoke about “rising ambitions and rivalries” in Asia as “visible stress points” and called for “predictable behavior rooted in international norms and respect for sovereignty.”But if U.S.-China differences spilled into a military confrontation, it is unclear how India, which is involved in territorial disputes with its more-powerful neighbor, will respond.
India will also be looking for signs of a different outcome analysts have predicted—a more inward-looking U.S. under Mr. Trump emboldening an ambitious Chinese leadership to expand the country’s power. Such a development could push India to play a bigger role in Asia and to further strengthen strategic ties with Japan, which is also wary of China’s rise.
3 H-1B visas
Indian officials are anxious to see if Mr. Trump moves to tighten visa rules that would affect the country’s outsourcing giants like Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. that send programmers and engineers to the U.S. on high-skilled worker, or H-1B, visas. Mr. Trump at times during the campaign criticized the program for supplying “cheap labor.”
Among the biggest potential shifts under a Trump presidency is closer ties between the U.S. and Russia. India, which has long-standing ties with Moscow, would welcome such a development. Analysts in India believe U.S.-Russia tensions under President Barack Obama pushed Russia closer to China. New Delhi will keep an eye on whether Mr. Trump considers easing U.S. sanctions on Russia.
5 NSG membership
India is counting on U.S. backing to help it become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group that controls trade in nuclear fuel and technology. Mr. Modi has made a big push for New Delhi’s entry, but has repeatedly been stymied by China. He will hope Mr. Trump finds a way to override Beijing’s objections.