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Asia

Either US presidential candidate 'good for India'

Political parties in India believe that good relations with America will persist with either Obama or Romney in the White House.

As the whirl of the US presidential elections approaches its culmination and the contest becomes closer by the day, Indian political parties and captains of industry are trying to decode which one of the candidates - Mitt Romney or Barack Obama - will be better for Indo-US relations.

Is India likely to benefit more from a Democrat or a Republican president? What impact will the US presidential elections have on the Indian economy and what should Indians expect out of it? These are some of the questions circulating the Indian media.

Win-win either way

Former President Bill Clinton addresses delegates during the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

Many Indians believe the Clinton administration's India-friendly policies will continue

While there haven't been many specifics uttered by either candidates on India in the run-up to the elections,Indian politicians widely felt India was of strategic importance to the US and that both parties thus had a vested interest in maintaining a healthy relationship with the South Asian country.

"It does not matter who the new incumbent is. The equation is important and the two major democracies cannot afford to ignore each other. We need each other to help each other and the relationship will grow," Tom Vadakkan, a spokesperson of the Indian Congress Party told DW.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mentioned the several occasions in which President Obama referred to the relationship between India and the United States as "the defining partnership of the 21st century."

"For us Obama is tried, tested and trusted. This is not to take anything away from Romney. But I feel that irrespective of who comes into power, neither can ignore India," he told DW.

Others believed that the friendly ties initiated by former President Bill Clinton in 2000 which, carried forward by George Bush and Obama, would be nurtured by the future president as well. India benefited from all.

"The US-India Civil Nuclear agreement in 2008-09 was, after all, seen as a watershed moment in bilateral ties. Our long and complicated relationship is now built on shared democratic and multicultural values and a desire to balance the influence of a rising China," Madan Kumar of the Indian party Rashtriya Janata Dal told DW.

Policies beyond Afghanistan

Strangely India's name did not crop up even once during the 90 minutes of the last debate on Monday (October 22) evening, which focused exclusively on foreign policy issues, even as both the candidates sparred on the regional security architecture in the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) region.

US soldiers on patrol in Herat, Afghanistan Photo: FARAHNAZ KARIMY / dpa - Bildfunk

US presence in Afghanistan is of concern to many Americans

Some analysts, however, do feel that the transition in US leadership will bring fresh challenges to Indo-US ties.

"During the term of the next President, thoughtful change to US policy in South Asia can be expected. Most significantly, this will involve winding down and ending the unpopular war in Afghanistan," argued former diplomat Salman Haider.

"Repercussions within the region are to be anticipated, extending far beyond Afghanistan itself," he added.

But for India's aspirational middle class, the keenly fought battle is of immense interest.

Many are keen to know whether there will be any drastic changes in outsourcing, which has huge implications for the local job market, and visa laws, which determine the flow of students and labor between the two countries.

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