New Delhi: Robert Mueller has found nothing by way of a Russian connection to impeach Donald Trump, which leaves open a definite possibility for the incumbent US president to get a second term. How will a second Trump term impact India?

Trump’s celebratory moment with a generally harmless Mueller report has come at a time when storm clouds are gathering over the United States economy. A rare “inverted yield curve” has formed in the US bond market presaging recession. Stock markets have bled all over the world. Even should the fears be misplaced, they could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Between now and the presidential election, Donald Trump will leave no stone unturned to reinvigorate the US economy. To his way of thinking, the world, especially economic powers like China, the European Union and to an extent India, are responsible for the United States’ economic plight. He has declared a trade war with China which threatens to bring the Chinese economy to its knees. He has put on hold the fight with the European Union on the promise of European concessions.

With India, Trump is warming to the fight. Having disciplined the manpower-exporting companies masquerading as software giants by putting a squeeze on guest worker visas, India is now on notice of eviction from the generalized system of preferences. There is a clear link between this and complaints of US e-commerce, pharmaceutical and other companies about an absent level-playing field in India.

The Narendra Modi government is trying to brazen it out by claiming negligible impact on the economy from US trade threats but Indian trade and industry ought to be worried when Donald Trump gets provoked. Only a recession (or at least fears of one) now stands between Trump and a second term and he will double down on his efforts to squeeze the world ... and India.

China is already wilting under US pressure and this shows in its desperation to cultivate new markets and deepen existing ones. Having got Italy on board the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi Jinping is pushing France to open the way for China to the rest of the EU, but France and Germany are putting up resistance. China is labelled a “rival” economic power and its giant companies like Huawei and ZTE are suspected of links to the Chinese government and military which would endanger countries that permit their operations at home.

China is hectically wooing India as well and India is unable to decide if China is a friend or adversary despite the background of Chinese support to Pakistan in its hostilities against India. A proper India-US summit on trade differences and on building a common political and economic front against China are overdue but no one in the Narendra Modi government understands the complexities much less resolving them. Shockingly, the perilous state of the Indian economy (for which Modi squarely is to blame) and the imminence of a world recession find no echoes in the Indian general election campaign underway which is instead focussed on pseudo-nationalism and manufactured national security triumphs.

There is something else about a second-term Trump that should give India sleepless nights. Second-term US presidents are obsessed with leaving behind outsized legacies and having their names emblazoned in seventy-two points gold in History. “Making America great” is a legacy worth bequeathing by Trump to his compatriots but it can be contested on the ground that America was always great.

A more lasting legacy, to Trump’s mind, would be to extricate America from Afghanistan and leave the country as stable and peaceful as possible. To that end, Donald Trump will do anything, short of an all-out war with the Taliban, and this could even mean tempting Pakistan with cash and political and military favours. India knows only too well the consequences for it of US largesse to Pakistan.

The general elections have made India blind to the looming political, economic and strategic crises abroad. The negligence of the world at this critical juncture could prove costly.