Welcome to the South Asia Foreign Policy Letter.
Today: We look at this Indian Americans and the election on November 3rd, India's military agreement with the United States, Pompeo's controversial comments in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and why Bangladesh and Pakistan protest against French President Emmanuel Macron.
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South Asia's participation in the US elections
Experts will spend weeks and months examining data from next Tuesday's US election, but one thing is almost certain: the Indo-American vote will be more important than ever. I recommend a recent report by Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, and Milan Vaishnav for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which describes the rapid pace of Indian migration to the United States and the ways Indian Americans might choose.
Consider the following data points.
Over the past 20 years, immigrants from India have come to the United States more often than immigrants from countries other than Mexico.
Indian Americans today make up just over 1 percent of the American population and a little less than 1 percent of the registered voter in the United States. Nearly 71 percent of them were born outside of the United States, and 40 percent moved to the country after 2010, meaning the community's impact on the election is still emerging. In the 2020 vote, this could result in an important political population group.
In key battlefield states like Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, the Indian-American voter population now exceeds the 2016 profit margins in those states. How the group votes could have a real impact on close races.
According to new research by Devesh Kapur and Jashan Bajwa, Indian-American households have a median income of around USD 120,000 – about twice the national median income.
How will Indian Americans vote? The group is not a monolith, but it is certainly democratic. According to a new Indian-American attitudes poll, 72 percent of Indian-American voters will support Democratic candidate Joe Biden, while 22 percent will vote for President Donald Trump. (In 2016, only 16 percent of Indian Americans voted for Trump.)
More on the results and the geopolitical implications in the next issue. At the moment I recommend the coverage of my colleagues Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, who explain how Indian Americans can be a polling station in Texas, and the article "Why Indian Americans Are Important in US Politics" by Safiya Ghori-Ahmad and Fatima Salman in FP as they analyze the relationship between the election of Indian Americans and their support for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India signs a military agreement with the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have signed a pact to share sensitive satellite data with India and help New Delhi improve its defense and surveillance capabilities. The deal came about after Pompeo and Esper attended the third annual 2 + 2 meeting with their Indian counterparts in New Delhi this week.
As Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer from FP describe in today's Security Brief, the agreement comes about in the midst of major steps by the Trump administration to strengthen its presence in the region and counter China more directly. Pompeo also found time to stop by two other South Asian countries where he made some news …
In Sri LankaPompeo took the opportunity to attack Beijing – a close ally of Colombo. "We see from bad deals, violations of sovereignty and lawlessness on land and at sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator, and the United States comes in a different way: we come as friends and partners," said Pompeo during a press conference in Colombo.
And in The MaldivesWhen Pompeo announced plans for a US embassy in the capital Male, I was impressed by an exchange with reporter Aishath Shaany from Raajje TV.
Shaany: As a small island nation, we were disappointed with the United States' position to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Do you think this was the right step?
Pompeo: Yes, absolutely. The Paris Agreement is a joke. The countries that have signed it have no intention of actually complying with it. For example, if you look at what China has done, it is the largest polluter in the region. It poses the greatest threat to the people of the Maldives and their economy.
While the interviewer went on, it's worth noting that Beijing announced last month that its carbon emissions would peak before 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2060 – with no expectation of anything in return from Europe or the US.
Protests against France's Macron. Pakistan called France's ambassador to Islamabad this week after Prime Minister Imran Khan said French President Emmanuel Macron "attacked" Islam by paying tribute to a French history teacher who was beheaded by a radical Islamist. On October 16, a man of Chechen origin beheaded French teacher Samuel Paty in a suburb of Paris after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to students in a class on free speech.
Earlier this month, Macron announced a plan to defend France's secular values, describing Islam as "in crisis". He later described Paty as a "silent hero". His remarks sparked protests in several Muslim-majority countries. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, this week thousands of demonstrators took to the streets with banners calling for a boycott of France.
Cashmere Land Laws. A new law passed Tuesday allows Indian citizens to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir even if they are not permanent residents of the state, prompting immediate criticism from opposition groups opposed to an influx of people and a possible demographic Express change in the predominantly Muslim region. Omar Abdullah, a former prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, described the move as "unacceptable" and wrote that the state is "now for sale".
Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. While the US-led peace talks in Afghanistan continue amid frequent violence, I was struck by a BBC article this week in which a senior United Nations official told the network that al-Qaeda was still “deeply embedded in the Taliban “Is. Edmund Fitton-Brown, the United Nations Islamic State Coordinator, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban surveillance team said that “The Taliban spoke regularly and at a high level with Al-Qaeda, assuring them that they would honor their historic relationship ". – Despite the deal with the United States.
Coronavirus update. South Asia set new coronavirus records this week. More than 9 million cases have now been recorded in the region, while India has had 8 million confirmed infections. If the official figures are credible, the spread of COVID-19 appears to have plateaued in India. With the surge in new cases in the US, India is now less likely to end the year with the world's most confirmed coronavirus infections.
Coronavirus cases are increasing faster in Nepal than in other countries on the subcontinent. While the official daily death toll is around 15 per day, Kathmandu crematoria staff say the actual numbers are likely to double as fears of an overburdened medical infrastructure grow.
The Indian head of politics at Facebook continues. Two months ago, the Wall Street Journal named Ankhi Das one of Facebook’s efforts to spare Indian politicians who violated the rules of hate speech. This week, she resigned from her job as the head of Indian politics on Facebook. That was one of the first Facebook employees in India.
That's it for this week.
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