H-Diplo/ISSF Policy Series 2021-57: Riding the Rollercoaster: India and the Trump Years

George Fujii Discussion

H-Diplo | ISSF Policy Series
America and the World—The Effects of the Trump Presidency

Riding the Rollercoaster: India and the Trump Years

Essay by Tanvi Madan, the Brookings Institution

Published on 4 November 2021 | issforum.org

Editor: Diane Labrosse | Production Editor: George Fujii


On November 9, 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called President-elect Donald Trump to congratulate him on his electoral victory.  Perhaps fittingly, news of this exchange first appeared on Twitter.[1] Subsequently, reports emerged in late November that then Indian foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was in the United States to meet with members of Trump’s transition team.[2] Both the call and the visit were striking because they were a departure from the norm.  Usually, if U.S. presidents-elect speak to their Indian counterparts, it is after, not before, phone calls to U.S. allies.  Moreover, the Indian government has in the past tended to interact with presidential transition teams from Delhi or through its missions in the United States.

These unusual developments reflected two elements that characterized India-U.S. relations during the Trump administration.  First, India’s desire to maintain ties with a country that had become a crucial partner, accompanied by its uncertainty about the new president’s views and approach.  And second, its recognition that dealing with Trump was not going to be business as usual, and would require Delhi to adapt its approach.

This led to an Indian strategy that involved trying to keep the India-U.S. flight steady, taking advantage of tailwinds, handling turbulence as best as possible, and hoping that there would be no sudden changes in flight plans or crises.

By the end of the administration, Indian policymakers felt that they had come through the Trump years—what its foreign minister recently said was often a rollercoaster time[3]—better than several U.S. allies.[4] The India-U.S. relationship had experienced a fair degree of continuity from previous administrations.  It had also witnessed changes—some positive from Delhi’s perspective, with forward progress in certain areas and cooperation during crises, but also some new or heightened areas of friction.  Underlying all this had been a constant sense of uncertainty that left a longer legacy.


The most significant forward progress came in the strategic realm, driven in large part by shared India-U.S. concerns about a rising China’s assertiveness.  Initially, there were doubts in Delhi about the administration’s approach to China, particularly given Trump’s desire for a trade deal, as well as Chinese cooperation on North Korea.  In this context, there were worrying signs for Delhi, including the Trump summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April 2017, and the president’s subsequent dispatch of a U.S. delegation to China’s inaugural Belt and Road Forum, which India boycotted.[5]

This reinforced India’s historic concerns, dating back to 1971, about a potential U.S.-China condominium (or G-2).[6] But there were also some uncertainties related to this that were particular to Trump—that his disdain for alliances and doubts about U.S. commitments abroad might make him supportive of a spheres-of-influence world; that his family’s corporate interests would make him susceptible to Chinese overtures; and that his proclivity for powerful personalities would lead him to seek a ‘bromance’ with Xi.

However, there were more heartening signs for India in summer 2017 related to India’s challenges both to its east (China) and west (Afghanistan-Pakistan).  The administration’s approach to China shifted, in part due to Trump’s frustration that Beijing was not responding to his trade demands and not pressuring North Korea sufficiently.[7] Administration officials who saw China as more of a competitor than partner also seemed to be winning key internal debates.  Signs of this shift were evident when Modi visited Washington in June 2017, even as a Sino-Indian military standoff was underway at the Bhutan-China-India border trijunction.  They became more evident with the Australia-Japan-U.S. trilateral dialogue in August, and the subsequent unveiling of the administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision and tougher language on China.  The Indo-Pacific framing and the key role that the administration envisioned for India, outlined in a speech by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was particularly welcome in Delhi.[8]

That summer, Trump also announced a South Asia strategy.  While he had promised a withdrawal from Afghanistan during the campaign, Delhi was relieved that he instead previewed a tougher approach to the Taliban, and a small increase in troops.  Moreover, acknowledging Indian contributions in Afghanistan, he called for greater India-U.S. collaboration on the issue.  On the other hand, he criticized Pakistan for being a safe haven for terrorist organizations and the Taliban.[9]

Delhi also found the administration helpful on issues related to its rival to the west.  Washington worked to place Pakistan on a terrorist financing and money laundering watchlist (the “grey list” at the Financial Action Task Force).[10] Together with France and the UK, it also successfully pushed China to lift its hold on the designation of the leader of a Pakistan-based terrorist organization at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1267 Committee.[11] And when Beijing, urged by Pakistan, sought to raise and publicize India’s dilution of Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir autonomy, Washington and Paris ran interference.[12] The latter also reflected another Trump characteristic that helped the Modi government—his lack of interest in the values pillar of the relationship, which was also visible when he traveled to Delhi in February 2020. Some saw the president’s response to questions about ongoing protests against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act as a refusal to criticize Modi; others saw it as an endorsement of the prime minister’s approach.[13] One question that historians might explore in the future is whether the Modi government saw the Trump period as a particularly conducive time in terms of the international landscape to move forward with such policies.

More broadly, India-U.S. strategic convergence paved the way for significant diplomatic, defense and security cooperation over the course of the administration.  This was driven by shared concerns about a rising China’s behavior and complementary Indo-Pacific visions, as well as counter-terrorism objectives.

There was greater institutionalization of the India-U.S. partnership, with the creation of new mechanisms, such as India’s first annual 2+2 dialogue between foreign and defense ministers, with an intercessional consultation at the assistant secretary level, a defense cyber dialogue, and new liaisons in the form of an Indian liaison at the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, and an American liaison at India’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region.  The two countries also upgraded their military exercises, with a new multi-service Tiger Triumph exercise and the revival of bilateral air force exercise Cope India, while continuing their annual army and special forces exercises and regular naval exercises.  Intensifying competition with China also contributed to India overcoming its earlier reluctance and signing ‘foundational’ agreements with the U.S., which facilitate military interoperability and enable intelligence sharing.  India also agreed to acquire additional military equipment from the U.S. (e.g., MH-60R helicopters for its navy).  Washington, in turn, renewed the offer of fighter aircraft and, moving past the reluctance of previous administrations, put armed drones on the table as well.[14]

Competition with China and greater comfort with Washington also made Delhi more willing to partner with the U.S. beyond the bilateral context.  The Trump administration and Modi government upgraded their trilateral dialogue with Japan to the leader level, and revived the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. quadrilateral (“Quad”).[15] They jointly trained peacekeepers in Africa, included each other or like-minded partners as participants or observers in their bilateral and multilateral military exercises.  Moreover, their navies participated in a group sail with Japan and the Philippines through the South China Sea.[16] They also collaborated in regional and multilateral institutions, including the UNSC (where in the past India and the U.S. have often been at loggerheads).[17]


This cooperation was buoyed by the administration’s approach to the three major national security crises Delhi faced during the Trump years.  In each one, Indian policymakers found Washington to be helpful.  In 2019, after an attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir by the Pakistan-based US-designated terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Trump administration condemned the attack.  It further called on Pakistan “to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil.” National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton did not contradict an Indian statement that he had told his counterpart that he “supported India’s right to self-defence against cross-border terrorism.” And when India conducted retaliatory air strikes across the border, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled them “counter-terrorism actions” and put the onus for de-escalation on Pakistan.[18]

Significantly for India, the administration was also helpful in border crises with China when Delhi accused Beijing of trying to unilaterally change the status quo.  In 2017, when the two militaries engaged in a stand-off at Doklam, the administration called for a return to the status quo and respect for Bhutanese sovereignty and international law (the Indian position).  The U.S. consulted with Delhi, offering assistance, and, according to sources in India, provided intelligence on Chinese troop deployments.[19] In 2020, both the crisis and American assistance were more significant.  The U.S. was the only major power to explicitly criticize China’s actions at the border.  It did so for its own reasons, highlighting the Chinese moves as reflective of a broader assertiveness that needed to be tackled.  However, this stance benefited India—not just because of the diplomatic support, but also due to the subsequent sharing of intelligence, leasing of military platforms, and fast-tracking of certain military supplies.[20]

The Trump administration’s approach helped to counter the view prevalent in some quarters in India that Washington would not take India’s side in crises.[21] Other facets of the relationship also improved.  Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, trade, investment, and revenue-generating people-to-people (tourism, education) ties had all increased.  And during the pandemic, India and the U.S. offered each other assistance.[22] However, as Joshua White has noted, the defense and security pillar of the relationship strengthened far more than the others—and bore most of the load of the relationship during the Trump years.[23]


On the other side of the ledger, the two countries experienced differences on a range of issues.  On the strategic side, perhaps the most significant was related to the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan.  In 2018-19, Trump altered his approach to Afghanistan, seeking to withdraw U.S. troops as soon as possible.  For Delhi, this created two challenges.  First, it led to a Trump shift on Pakistan, which he saw as a facilitator with the Taliban.  Among other things, this led to engagement—and a certain bonhomie—between Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.[24] Second, the administration’s talks with the Taliban left India somewhat isolated—its 1990s partners on that issue, Iran and Russia, had already engaged the Taliban.  The U.S.-Taliban deal in February 2020 only increased concerns in India about the implications for the Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul that both Washington and Delhi had been backing, as well as for stability in Afghanistan.  A Taliban return to Kabul would have implications for Indian security; Delhi believed it could embolden the Pakistani military and Pakistan-based terrorist groups that targeted India—and give such groups additional space to operate in Afghanistan.[25]

India-U.S. differences about China also emerged.  For instance, Delhi was constantly concerned about a Trump pivot toward Xi upending the more competitive American stance on China.  There were also some differences on the best competitive approach—India, for example, was not as focused on the ideological dimension of the conflict or as interested in calling Beijing out by name.  Another difference involved whether Russia was part of the China problem or part of the solution to the China problem.  While Trump sought to engage Russia—an approach that India had hoped would prevail—other administration officials and members of Congress took a tougher view.[26] The administration’s National Security Strategy identified both China and Russia as revisionist threats.[27] Delhi, on the other hand, had been advocating for the U.S.—and the west more broadly—to help stall deepening Sino-Russian ties (or even creating a wedge) by reaching a new modus vivendi with Moscow. [28]

Divergence on Russia also created a more parochial problem for India.  The 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) opened up the possibility of sanctions on India for its acquisition of Russian military platforms, particularly the S-400 missile defense system.  It was not clear whether the Trump administration understood or tried to prevent the inclusion of related provisions in the bill.  Once the potential consequences for not just India but also other Indo-Pacific partners such as Indonesia and Vietnam became apparent, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis argued for a waiver provision.  It was subsequently included in the National Defense Authorization Act.  [29]

Nonetheless, the problem remained for India.  Beyond the fact that the Act left a sword of Damocles hanging over the relationship, it left open the possibility that a transactional president like Trump could seek concessions in exchange for a waiver.  The administration’s sanctions on Iran and Venezuela also hurt India (it imports oil from both and was engaged in a project in Iran benefiting Afghanistan’s connectivity).[30] And all three developments reinforced traditional Indian concerns about U.S. reliability, conditionalities, and weaponization of interdependence in ways that constrained India’s strategic autonomy.[31]

Delhi also had concerns about the Trump administration’s approach to international agreements and institutions.  The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal and the Paris Climate Accords had direct (and adverse) implications for India.  There was, for instance, the question of the fate of Obama-era agreements on clean energy finance and technology transfer given that the Trump administration was more focused on the hydrocarbon space where US-India collaboration did increase.

Furthermore, India worried about Trump’s perception of alliances.  Policymakers believed Trump’s disdain for the traditional allies of the United States did open up space for a partner like India.  However, Delhi also had an interest in the U.S. reinforcing—not weakening—its network of alliances and partnerships, and its presence in the Indo-Pacific.[32] Moreover, Indian leaders were concerned about Trump’s critique of multilateralism (of which India is a strong proponent) and his attitude toward organizations like the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), among other things, leaving a vacuum for China to fill.[33]

Trump’s view of the WTO also reflected his preferred economic approach, which caused significant India-U.S. friction.  India found itself the target of tariffs, lost certain trade benefits, and had to grapple with an American approach to immigration that adversely affected India’s (and Indians’) interests in terms of labor mobility and remittances.[34] Many of the administration’s problems with Delhi in this realm were not new, and included market access problems in India, investment restrictions, and price controls on medical devices.  Other challenges emerged in the digital trade domain, with the Trump administration expressing concern about India’s e-commerce regulations and data localization plans.  But there was also the specific issue of dealing with a president who focused primarily (and even solely) on specific transactions and trade deficits when measuring the benefits of economic ties.[35]


In each case, Delhi sought to manage or downplay these differences—something that Indian governments have historically done when a country is important enough for India’s interests.  Administration officials also worked with Delhi to ensure particularly that differences on trade would not spillover, impeding strategic cooperation.  This worked, in part because the president did not generally have a negative view of India.  Indeed, he was relatively familiar with India, where his company continued to do business.  He also often praised Modi.[36] The prime minister, in turn, made it a point to woo Trump.  While some believed this was due to their chemistry as two ‘strong’ men, there is little evidence that this was more than choreographed chemistry on Modi’s part.[37] Instead, this approach was fueled by the prime minister’s recognition that it was important to keep onside the leader of a country that was crucial to his domestic and foreign policy goals, especially when that leader’s personal preferences shaped, if not dominated, policy.[38] 

The administration’s focus on competition with China also benefited India in this regard.  Delhi had to be nimble in dealing with frequent personnel changes at the senior-most levels.  However, it found that Trump’s successive national security advisors, secretaries of defense, and secretaries of state saw India as important from this China/Indo-Pacific lens.  India also benefited from the fact that experienced India or South Asia hands held key positions for most of the Trump administration.  These included Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council (NSC) Lisa Curtis, acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells, and U.S. ambassador to India Kenneth Juster.  Others were not India hands per se, but Asia/Indo-Pacific hands who saw value in India as a partner in the context of competition with China.  For instance, Matt Pottinger, NSC senior director for Asia and later deputy NSA, and Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs.

While these officials helped keep the relationship on track, particularly on the defense and security front, Indian policymakers also made special adjustments for Trump.  Traditionally, certain elements have featured in India’s relationship with the U.S.  One aspect has been not talking money or touting deals and numbers publicly—especially at the highest levels—lest the relationship be seen as transactional, or the Indian government be seen as engaging in quid pro quos or acting under American pressure.  Another element has been problems caused by perceived slights against India or Indians.  A third has been Delhi expressing disapproval—directly or indirectly—of American engagement with India’s adversaries, especially Pakistan.  A fourth has been generally staying out of American politics since Delhi has benefited from bipartisan support for the relationship and has advocated non-interference in countries’ internal affairs.

During the Trump years, there was a departure from each of these elements in part to adapt to Trump’s personality and priorities.  For instance, Indian policymakers highlighted transactions, highlighting the dollar amounts of defense and energy deals.  They reduced India’s tariffs on certain Harley-Davidson products after Trump’s frequent complaints about them.[39] Instead of taking offense or objecting, they downplayed developments that would otherwise have fueled a firestorm in India, including reports of Trump making fun of Modi’s accent and belittling India’s contributions to Afghanistan, his calling India “filthy,” his offers to mediate the Kashmir dispute, his public praise of Pakistan while in India, and his threat of retaliation if India did not supply the U.S. with hydroxychloroquine (which Trump was touting as a COVID19 treatment).[40] Delhi’s adaptation to Trump’s proclivities also included engaging with the president’s children, for instance rolling out the red carpet for Ivanka Trump, who visited India for the Global Entrepreneurs’ Summit.[41]More noticeably, in a nod to the president’s love of large audiences, Modi gave Trump public platforms in the U.S. (at a “Howdy Modi” rally in Texas in 2019) and in India (at a “Namaste Trump” event in Modi’s home state of Gujarat in 2020). Trump’s campaign used both for political purposes and, in India, some criticized Modi for mentioning a Trump campaign slogan at the Houston event in a way that could be read as an endorsement.[42] Less noticeably, the Indian government also agreed to cooperation to tackle the opioid problem, which Trump highlighted on the campaign trail.[43]

But beyond adjusting its bilateral approach, the Trump era also led to adaptations in terms of India’s broader foreign policy.  This stemmed in significant part from heightened concerns about the reliability of the U.S. and uncertainty about its continuing role and commitment in the Indo-Pacific.  This had two effects.  First, in order to keep Trump engaged and onside, Delhi highlighted India’s willingness to burden share in the region.  It also agreed to a revival of the Quad in part to incentivize the U.S. to stay involved in Asia (thus bringing to mind Geir Lundestad’s “empire by invitation” thesis).[44] Second, India hedged against uncertainty about the United States.  It did this by doubling down on its traditional diversification strategy, maintaining multiple partnerships to maximize the benefits and to minimize the risks of overdependence on just one country.  India accordingly deepened ties with not just Australia and Japan, which also shaped its decision on reviving the Quad, but also South Korea.  In addition, India reinvigorated ties with European countries, particularly France, and invested in its traditional relationship with Russia.[45] Delhi briefly even tried to stabilize relations with China in 2018-2019, but that effort ran aground with the COVID-19 and border crisis in 2020.

Legacy and Looking Forward

By the end of the Trump administration, India had a healthier portfolio of partners, one that did not preclude but, in fact, included a much closer defense and security relationship with the United States.  The India-U.S. partnership that the Biden administration inherited was in a much better place than many other American relationships.  In certain realms, it was also in a better place than it had been at the end of the Obama administration.  The relationship thus did not require repair as much as rebalancing.  And the new administration has broadened the areas of cooperation, while continuing to build on the strategic convergences that have been apparent since 2000 and intensified during the Trump years.  The Biden team has indeed engaged more with India in its first few months in office than any prior U.S. administration—both because of convergences, with India relevant to several administration priorities, as well as because of crises involving COVID-19, China, and Afghanistan.

However, Delhi has also found itself grappling with other, more problematic, legacies of the Trump era.  This includes the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and greater political polarization in the U.S. that has prevented more effective and speedy American action on the pandemic, and economic recovery.  The increased uncertainty of American allies about the U.S. has also had consequences.  While it led them to seek to partner with India, it also led some of them to hedge between the U.S. and China, thus precluding the kind of collaborative action across Asian and European theaters that Delhi desires.  And while India’s need for alignment will lead it to a closer relationship with the U.S., its own uncertainty during the Trump era will also reinforce its parallel desire for autonomy, thus setting limits on how far it might go with the United States even under a new president.


Tanvi Madan is a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy program and Director of the India Project at the Brookings Institution.  Her research explores India’s role in the world and its foreign policy, focusing, in particular, on India’s relations with China and the United States, as well as its approach in the Indo-Pacific.  Madan is the author of Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped U.S.-India Relations During the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2020).

© Copyright 2021 The Authors



[1] Tweet by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, November 9, 2016, https://twitter.com/MEAIndia/status/796392497849110528?s=20

[2] “Foreign Secretary Jaishankar Meets Trump’s Transition Team During US Visit,” Press Trust of India, November 24, 2016, https://www.outlookindia.com/newswire/story/foreign-secretary-jaishankar-meets-trumps-transition-team-during-us-visit/961270

[3] Australian National University Crawford Leadership Forum, “JG Crawford Oration 2021 with His Excellency Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister of India,” September 6, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io21kAphiDQ.

[4] C. Raja Mohan, “Trump, Biden and India,” Seminar, Issue 737 (January 2021), https://www.india-seminar.com/2021/737/737_c_raja_mohan.htm.

[5] For the concerns, see comments in “Deconstructing the Modi Doctrine: Three Years of Modi’s Foreign Policy,” Brookings Institution India Centre, New Delhi, India, May 24, 2017, https://brook.gs/3hHB4vJ; Forum for Strategic Initiatives & Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, “Roundtable on 100 Day of Trump – Implications for India,” New Delhi, India, May 11, 2017, https://www.kas.de/documents/252038/253252/7_dokument_dok_pdf_50029_2.pdf/43f6a908-71cb-540b-a864-7f8824bc0873?version=1.0&t=1539648630388. For Belt and Road Forum differences see “US to Send Delegation to China’s Belt and Road Summit,” Reuters, May 12, 2017 http://reut.rs/2pEV5p7; Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Official Spokesperson’s Response to a Query on Participation of India in OBOR/BRI Forum, May 13, 2017, https://bit.ly/2VAsmmM

[6] Tanvi Madan, Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped US-India Relations During the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press), pp. 221-259.

[7] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Trump Criticizes China as Meeting on North Korea Nears,” New York Times, July 5, 2017, https://nyti.ms/2VXP9Og; Brad Lendon, “Trump Rips China After North Korea Missile Test,” CNN, July 30, 2017, https://cnn.it/3zo8Kor; Ana Swanson, “Trade Talks Fizzle as China Rebuffs Key Trump Team Demand,” Washington Post, July 19, 2017, https://wapo.st/3km8eDd; Lesley Wroughton and Jeff Mason, “Trump Orders Probe of China’s Intellectual Property Practices,” Reuters, August 14, 2017 https://reut.rs/3CnmKk8

[8] “Joint Statement - United States and India: Prosperity Through Partnership,” Washington, DC, June 27, 2017 https://mea.gov.in/outoging-visit-detail.htm?28560/Joint+Statement++United+States+and+India+Prosperity+Through+Partnership; “Joint Statement - Australia-Japan-United States Trilateral Strategic Dialogue,” August 7, 2017, Manila, Philippines, mofa.go.jp/files/000279008.pdf; Jim Mattis at Hearing on Political and Security Situation in Afghanistan,” U.S.  U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, October 3, 2017, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/17-82_10-03-17.pdf; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century,” Remarks at Center for Strategic & International Studies, October 18, 2017, https://translations.state.gov/2017/10/18/secretary-of-state-rex-tillerson-on-defining-our-relationship-with-india-for-the-next-century/

[9] The White House, “Remarks by President Trump on the Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia,” Arlington, VA, August 21, 2017, https://in.usembassy.gov/remarks-president-trump-strategy-afghanistan-south-asia/; C. Raja Mohan, “Trump and South Asia: Breaking New Ground,” Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: An Early Assessment of the Trump Presidency (Asia Foundation), July 18, 2018, https://asiafoundation.org/2018/07/18/trump-and-south-asia-breaking-new-ground/.

[10] Salman Masood, “At U.S. Urging, Pakistan to Be Placed on Terrorism-Financing List,” New York Times, February 23, 2018, https://nyti.ms/2VTdswL.

[11] Sachin Parashar, “China Gets Ultimatum to Lift ‘Technical’ Hold on Masood Azhar,” Times of India, April 12, 2019 https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/china-gets-ultimatum-to-lift-technical-hold-on-azhar/articleshow/68840398.cms.

[12] Anirban Bhaumik, “Despite UN Feat, UK’s Stand, Russian Surprise Irk India,” Deccan Herald, August 17, 2019 https://www.deccanherald.com/national/despite-un-feat-uks-stand-russian-surprise-irk-india-755090.html; Shubhajit Roy, “France, U.S.  U.S. Block China Move on J&K at UNSC,” Indian Express, January 16, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/france-us-block-china-move-on-jk-at-unsc/.

[13] Apurva Vishwanath and Kaunain Sheriff M, “Explained: What NRC+CAA Means to You,” Indian Express, December 25, 2019, https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-citizenship-amendment-act-nrc-caa-means-6180033/; Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin, “Trump Defends Modi, Refuses To Weigh In On Citizenship Law,” AP, February 25, 2020 https://apnews.com/article/narendra-modi-donald-trump-ap-top-news-new-delhi-international-news-2ea28e127629341e3c9a33b33eae198f; Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, “Donald Trump Backs PM Modi on Citizenship Law,” Economic Times, February 26, 2020 https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/donald-trump-backs-pm-modi-on-citizenship-law/articleshow/74311234.cms.

[14] For a fuller list of developments in this space during the Trump administration, see Madan, “Managing China: Competitive Engagement, with Indian Characteristics” in Chhabra et al eds. Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2021), 126, or https://twitter.com/tanvi_madan/status/1327311456027729921?s=20.

[15] Indrani Bagchi, “In First-Ever Trilateral Summit, India-Japan-US Focus On ‘Inclusive’ Indo-Pacific,” Times of India, December 1, 2018, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-first-ever-trilateral-summit-india-japan-us-focus-on-inclusive-indo-pacific/articleshow/66889722.cms; Madan, “The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the ‘Quad’,” War on the Rocks, November 16, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/11/rise-fall-rebirth-quad/.

[16] PACOM, “Exercise Enhances Trust, Cooperation between U.S., Indian Air Forces,” December 18, 2018, https://www.pacom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/1716949/exercise-enhances-trust-cooperation-between-us-indian-air-forces/; Indian Ministry of Defence, “AUSINDEX-19 Concludes,” April 16, 2019 https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1570731; “U.S., Japan, India and Philippines Challenge Beijing with Naval Drills in the South China Sea,” Reuters, May 9, 2019; https://reut.rs/3nLcuxT.

[17] Seema Sirohi, “India-US-EU Combine Halts China’s Belt and Road Initiative at the UN,” The Wire, December 12, 2018.

[18] The White House, “Statement from the Press Secretary on the Terrorist Attack in India,” February 14, 2019, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-terrorist-attack-india/; Indian Ministry of External Affairs, “Readout of Telephonic Conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and U.S. NSA Amb John Bolton,” February 16, 2019, https://www.mea.gov.in/press-releases.htm?dtl/31058/Readout_of_Telephonic_Conversation_between_National_Security_Advisor_Ajit_Doval_and_US_NSA_Amb_John_Bolton; Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, “Concern Regarding India-Pakistan Tensions,” February 26, 2019, https://2017-2021.state.gov/concern-regarding-india-pakistan-tensions/index.html.

[19] Madan, “The US and Doklam: Look Beyond Rhetoric,” Order from Chaos (Brookings Institution), September 26, 2017, https://brook.gs/3CrCSkw; Pranab Dhal Samanta, “US’ COMCASA Assurance: Won’t Share India Data Without Consent,” Economic Times, September 5, 2018, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/us-comcasa-assurance-wont-share-india-data-without-consent/articleshow/65678934.cms.

[20]  Humeyra Pamuk, Jonathan Landay, “Pompeo Says China Took ‘Incredibly Aggressive Action’ in Recent Clash with India,” Reuters, July 8, 2020, https://reut.rs/3nJikQn; “Manu Pubby, “India Acquires 11,000 Extreme Cold Gear Sets from US Army,” Economic Times, October 29, 2020, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-acquires-11000-extreme-cold-gear-sets-from-us-army/articleshow/78922920.cms; “Indian Navy Inducts Two American Predator Drones On Lease, Can Be Deployed On China Border, ANI, November 25, 2020, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/79409200.cms; See comments from General Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Commander, U.S. Pacific Air Force in Conversation with the Defense Writers Group, November 18, 2020, https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.gwu.edu/dist/2/672/files/2020/11/DWG-Gen.Wilsbach.pdf.

[21] C. Raja Mohan, “Trump, Biden and India.”

[22] Neha Arora and Sumit Khanna, “India Exports 50 Million Hydroxychloroquine Tablets to U.S. for COVID-19 Fight: Source,” Reuters, April 30, 2020, https://reut.rs/3lDjgDo; “US Hands Over Second Shipment of 100 Ventilators to India,” Press Trust of India, August 19, 2020, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/covid-19-us-hands-over-second-shipment-of-100-ventilators-to-india/story-XYq2d9d5hAENGdbHJzoEJL.html.

[23] Joshua T. White, After the Foundational Agreements: An Agenda for US-India Defense and Security Cooperation (Brookings Institution, January 2021), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/FP_20210111_us_india_white.pdf.

[24] Madiha Afzal, “Evaluating the Trump Administration’s Pakistan Reset,” Order From Chaos (Brookings Institution), October 26, 2020, https://brook.gs/3i6wrfh.

[25] Nyshka Chandran, “US Troop Withdrawals In Afghanistan Are A Major Headache For India,” CNBC, December 28, 2018, https://cnb.cx/3An66QR; Mihir Sharma, “Trump’s Taliban Deal Is Bad for India,” Bloomberg, March 2, 2020, https://bloom.bg/3nLDLk3;

[26] Elizabeth Roche, “India To Closely Watch Trump-Putin Summit In Helsinki Today,” Mint, July 16, 2018, https://www.livemint.com/Politics/CthCygJu913WVMDVoacuFM/India-to-closely-watch-Trump-Putin-summit-in-Helsinki-today.html.

[27] The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017 https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf.

[28] Madan, “Between A Cold War Ally and An Indo-Pacific Partner: India’s U.S.-Russia Balancing Act,” War on the Rocks, October 16, 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/10/between-a-cold-war-ally-and-an-indo-pacific-partner-indias-u-s-russia-balancing-act/.

[29] Richard M. Rossow and Kriti Upadhyaya, “Assessing India’s CAATSA Sanctions Waiver Eligibility,” February 12, 2021, https://thediplomat.com/2021/02/assessing-indias-caatsa-sanctions-waiver-eligibility/.

[30] Kalpana Pathak, “As US Sanctions Kick In, Indian Refiners Brace For Costly Crude,” Mint, May 1, 2019, https://www.livemint.com/industry/energy/as-us-sanctions-kick-in-indian-refiners-brace-for-costlier-crude-1556690214456.html. India did get an exemption for the connectivity project – “US Gives ‘Narrow Exemption’ To India From Sanctions On Chabahar For Afghan Aid: Official,” Press Trust of India, December 19, 2019, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/72884455.cms.

[31] “Implications of CAATSA on U.S.-India Relations,” USISPF, September 16, 2021, https://youtu.be/N6xZavaDBfw.

[32] See the foreign minister’s comments in Yaroslav Trofimov, “India Sees Opportunity as U.S. Remakes Its Alliances,” Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2020, https://on.wsj.com/3knxR6D.

[33] Devirupa Mitra, “India Indicates Trump’s WHO Fund Freeze Is Ill-Timed, as It Weighs the Tedros Equation,” The Wire, April 15, 2020, https://thewire.in/diplomacy/donald-trumps-fund-freeze-who-india-tedros; Gulshan Sachdeva, “Trump and WTO: India Must Be Prepared By Reshaping Its Strategy,” Money Control, May 11, 2020, https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/opinion/trump-and-wto-india-must-be-prepared-by-reshaping-its-strategy-4351141.html

[34] Chad P. Brown, “Trump’s Mini-Trade War with India,” Peterson Institute for International Economics, July 8, 2019, https://www.piie.com/blogs/trade-and-investment-policy-watch/trumps-mini-trade-war-india; Anjani Trivedi, “Trump’s Immigration Stance Stings India’s Most Important Industry,” Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2017, https://on.wsj.com/3tPSewi; Kai Schultz and Sameer Yasir, “For Indian Diaspora, Panic and Anger Over Trump’s Immigration Plans,” New York Times, May 12, 2020, https://nyti.ms/3lAFDct.

[35] The two sides negotiated a phase-one trade deal but never went through with it.  Suhasini Haidar, “Trump Regime Blocked Trade Deal: Jaishankar,” The Hindu, December 12, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jaishankar-blames-trump-team-for-failure-of-trade-deal/article33315761.ece.

[36] Madan, “Trump, India, and the Known Unknowns,” Order From Chaos (Brookings Institution), November 2, 2016 https://brook.gs/3nJx7e1; Mo Abbas et al, “Trump Heaps Praise On India’s Modi In Packed Stadium,” NBC News, February 24, 2020, https://nbcnews.to/3nKQSBN.

[37] “Birds of a feather: On Trump-Modi chemistry,” The Hindu, February 13, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/birds-of-a-feather-the-hindu-editorial-on-the-chemistry-between-us-president-donald-trump-and-prime-minister-narendra-modi/article30803725.ece

[38] Interviews with Indian officials, 2019-2020.

[39] The White House, “Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Modi of India in Joint Press Statement,” New Delhi, India February 25, 2020, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-prime-minister-modi-india-joint-press-statement-2/; Kirtika Suneja, “Duty Relief Proposed For Harley Motorcycles Ahead Of Trump Visit,” Economic Times, February 15, 2020, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/duty-relief-proposed-for-harley-motorcycles-ahead-of-trump-visit/articleshow/74143989.cms;

[40] Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan, “Up to 1,000 More U.S. Troops Could Be Headed To Afghanistan This Spring,” Washington Post, January 21, 2018, https://wapo.st/3CtEn1w; “U.S. President Donald Trump Mocks PM Modi for Library in Afghanistan,” AFP, January 3, 2019, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-president-donald-trump-mocks-pm-modi-for-library-in-afghanistan/article25896776.ece; https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trumps-remark-on-filthy-indian-air-sparks-row/article32932776.ece; Sriram Lakshman, “Donald Trump’s Remark On ‘Filthy’ Indian Air Sparks Row,” The Hindu, October 23, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trumps-remark-on-filthy-indian-air-sparks-row/article32932776.ece; Sanjeev Miglani, “Trump Touches Off Storm In India With Kashmir Mediation Offer,” Reuters, July 23, 2019, https://reut.rs/3EwUpcP; The White House, “Remarks by President Trump at a Namaste Trump Rally,” February 24, 2020, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-namaste-trump-rally/; “Trump Talks Tough, Warns Of ‘Retaliation’ If India Doesn’t Export Hydroxychloroquine to U.S.,” Press Trust of India, April 7, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/would-be-surprised-if-india-doesnt-allow-export-of-hydroxychloroquine-to-us-trump/article31276161.ece.

[41] Michael Safi, “Hyderabad Prepares for Ivanka Trump Tour with Rainbows and Lookalikes,” The Guardian, November 17, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/27/hyderabad-india-prepares-ivanka-trump-arrival-rainbows-lookalikes.

[42] Yashwant Raj, “‘4 More Years’: Trump Campaign Woos Indian Americans with ‘Howdy Modi’, ‘Namaste Trump’,” Hindustan Times, August 23, 2020, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/4-more-years-trump-campaign-woos-indian-americans-with-howdy-modi-namaste-trump/story-ExSTlHE9flOo4TdqmWGjOM.html; “‘Abki Baar, Trump Sarkar’: PM Modi Gives Tacit Support for Trump’s Re-Election in 2020,” Press Trust of India, September 23, 2019, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/71253436.cms; “‘Do Not Misinterpret PM Modi’s ‘Ab ki baar, Trump Sarkar’ Slogan,’ S Jaishankar Tells Media,” Scroll, October 1, 2019, https://scroll.in/latest/939061/do-not-misinterpret-pm-modis-ab-ki-baar-trump-sarkar-slogan-s-jaishankar-tells-media.

[43] “India, US Agree to Create a Counter-Narcotics Working Group to Fight Drugs Trafficking,” ANI, February 25, 2020, https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/india-us-agree-to-create-a-counter-narcotics-working-group-to-fight-drugs-trafficking20200225154930/.

[44] Geir Lundestad, “Empire by Invitation?  The United States and Western Europe, 1945-1952,” Journal of Peace Research 23:3 (September 1986): 263–277.

[45] Garima Mohan, “Rediscovering Europe: New Avenues for the Europe-India Partnership,” Raisina Debates, August 9, 2018, https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/43148-rediscovery-of-europe-new-avenues-for-the-europe-india-partnership/