Why did Donald Trump Deny India’s Invitation?

According to the reports, Donald Trump, the US President, has subdued India’s invitation to be the chief guest during the Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2019. This incident turns out to be a most important development as this deplorable announcement has been promulgated in such a time when the consensual relations between the two countries are not at their best.

It is evident that the United States in recent times has warned India concerning the signing of the S-400 missile system deal with Russia. However, at the beginning of October 2018, during the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit, India has signed the deal for five such systems. More so, the Trump administration has been intimidating India with sanctions if it continues to buy oil from Iran. Of course, India, however, continues to import oil from Iran.

Donald Trump Not Accepted India’s Republic Day Invitation

While so many speculations have been making rounds for the Trump’s denial of India’s solicitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade, the reason cited by the Trump administration to turn down the Republic Day invite is something else. According to the US administration, Donald Trump has another insistent appointment on the same date. It is learned that Trump seemingly has scheduled his time to deliver the State of The Union (SOTU) address, whose scheduling conflicts with the Republic Day celebrations of India.

In my outlook, addressing the SOTU might not be the tangible reason for Trump’s denial. In a similar situation, when Barack Obama, the then US President, was invited for the Republic Day Parade as the Chief Guest, the date of the SOTU address was adjusted accordingly so that he could attend India’s Republic Day celebrations. The tentative schedule was somewhere between January 22, 2015, and the first week of February 2015.

In the present situation, the invitation was sent to Donald Trump, as early as in April 2018 — almost 9 months before the event’s commencement. Nevertheless, the US authorities have kept the matter pending for the final decision till the opening of 2+2 dialogue, which was held in September 2018.The 2+2 dialogue is nothing but the two appointed ministers from each country have met to deliberate issues of strategic and security interest. Of course, as scheduled, the talks took place in September 2018.

As mentioned previously, the US has imposed restrictions on two issues — the missile defense deal with Russia and the other dealt with oil imports from Iran. Surely, the US administration might have felt offended for India’s decision on missile defense deal with Russia as well as the continued oil imports from Iran. This might be the exact reason why Donald Trump has rejected India’s invitation.

Despite the fact that India has been claiming itself as a non-aligned country, India has been maintaining the harmonious relationship with Russia better than that of the US — it’s a palpable fact. As far as the defense requirements are concerned, from the time of erstwhile USSR, India has been procuring the defense equipment from them. Hence, on the part of the US administration, it is not wise to expect India to not make a missile defense deal with Russia. Also, India being a non-oil producing nation, has to obviously import the crude oil. Iran has been a long-time associate of India for procurement of crude oil. Therefore, it is also not conceivable for India to break the bilateral relationships with a country that has been supporting for the country’s needs, all of sudden — as plausibly expected by the US administration.

As a consequence, denial of India’s invitation by Trump may not be deliberated as a very serious issue, while taking the requirement of country’s defense and oil products on a note of precedence.

–   Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi