Story Of The Week

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US Visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited New York and Washington, D.C. from September 27-30, 2014. This was his first visit to the U.S. as leader of the world’s largest democracy and the first opportunity for the prime minister to meet President Barack Obama. He also engaged with congressional leaders, the private sector and members of the Indian diaspora. The goal was to build on the India-U.S. relationship, which has bilateral, regional and global dimensions. It also encompassed interaction in the fields of economics and trade, energy and climate change, cyber-governance, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, and defense issues, as well as health and immigration.

Modi had put aside his personal prejudices – with regard to the denial of visa – and reworked the relationship with the Americans, keeping in mind India’s national interests.

Main Points

  • Commitment of nearly $41 billion of investments by US-India Business Council members over the next three years in India
  • Bilateral meetings with the President of Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the Prime Minister of Nepal
  • Breakfast meeting with 11 Chief Executive Officers or CEOs including Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt and CEOs of MasterCard and Pepsi
  • One-on-one meeting with six individual CEOs including chairman of Boeing company, CEO of BlackRock, President and CEO of IBM, CEO of GE, Chairman of Goldman and Sachs and the CEO of KKR – Bullish on opportunities in India, top US corporates, including Boeing, IBM and BlackRock on Monday expressed their keenness to strengthen engagements with the country during their meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi who promised a friendlier business environment.
  • Meeting with US President Barack Obama -Modi and Obama discussed a range of issues, including ways to accelerate economic growth and bolster security cooperation to deepen the US-India strategic partnership, at their maiden summit meeting, regional issues, including current developments in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, where India and the US can work together with partners toward a positive outcome.
  • Prime minister has boldly declared the need to fight the Islamic State (IS), which no Indian leader ever did before. Similarly, the reference to disputes in South China Sea in the joint statement is a radical departure because this was never done in the India-US bilateral context.
  • India-US declaration on cooperation in counter-terrorism including sharing of information is a major step forward.

Madison Square

Talking about his US visit, how can we miss the Madison Square gathering there’s nothing more to say about what our prime minister did at Madison Square Garden except that perhaps the US President Barack Obama, the only other politician rock star, is thinking about how to top it. Mr. Narendra Modi attracted 19,000 cheering fans to the rally.

By promising to make India a country they can be proud of, and a place where bright young Indians can make their fortunes, Modi told these reluctant exiles exactly what they wanted to hear. Modi reiterated his campaign promises to fix India’s ailing economy and announced measures to simplify visa procedures for foreigners of Indian descent.

But the main question “Could his visit help put US-India relations back on track?”

Three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned from his successful trip to the United States, foreign policy experts express a deep sense of satisfaction that the India-United States relations which have been dormant in the last few years have been revived.

We would put Mr. Modi’s visit in two parts. Although Mr Modi did a great job while rebranding Indian skill and acumen but the tangible outcomes of his hard work are yet to be seen. Mr. Manmohan Singh came back with Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005, but in Mr. Modi’s case, a concrete achievement is still awaited. Considering the amount of time he has had in office, he is way ahead in terms of vision for India as compared to predecessors. Hope he turns his speeches into accomplishments soon.

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