He Came, He Saw, And He Conquered!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a blissful welcome from the US. This one-of-its kind reception from the US has hinted towards the rise of India in the international politics
From an address to the United Nations to a rock-star reception at the famous Madison Square Garden, to dinner and a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House and finally a meeting with the top business houses of the US, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to the United State of America seems to have flabbergasted many. The West was astonished to see a leader with a calibre to put his view with a strong zeal.
The most anticipated meeting with the leaders of a superpower and a soon-to-be superpower was mixed with joy and disappointment. Both sides agreed to a self-effacing range of infrastructure and finance partnerships that could provide building blocks for future advances. However, on the issue of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Modi stance was stiff and he expects both the countries will soon find a solution to the WTO dispute, taking India’s food security concerns into account.
The US expanded its strategic ties with India by pledging to back New Delhi’s entry into elite nuclear clubs and as a permanent member of the reformed UN Security Council. Seeking to expand cooperation in strengthening global non-proliferation and export control regimes, the two leaders committed themselves to continue to work towards India’s phased entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.
On the other hand, No breakthrough was made on the civil nuclear deal. Narendra Modi asserted that his government is serious about resolution of issues on both sides to enable civilian nuclear energy cooperation to take off. It has been decided by both the leaders to set up an inter-agency contact group to address the issues of liability, administrative and technical issues. From the Indian side, agencies like DAE, MEA and Finance Ministry will be involved.
The U.S. and India also agreed to forge closer defence and security ties. Both the countries agreed on extending their defence agreement for another 10 years which is expected to give a big boost to cooperation in this key area. Modi also invited US companies to participate in defence manufacturing sector in India, which has recently raised the FDI cap from 26 to 49 per cent. Both the countries were committed to facilitate the actions necessary to increase bilateral trade five-fold from the current $100 billion. The proposed steps include establishing an Indo-US Investment Initiative an Infrastructure Collaboration Platf-orm. India will welcome two trade missions in 2015 focused on meeting India’s infrastructure needs with US technology and services. The US also pledged to help India transform three of its cities into modern “smart cities” and agreed to help upgrade the water and sewage system in a hundred more.
But despite of hefty groundwork laid by cabinet secretaries and other top officials, the visit lacked any big-ticket announcements, such as those resulting from Mr. Modi’s earlier meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who pledged $35 billion and $20 billion respectively in investments over five years.
But for Modi, the most crucial parts of the trip can be seen with his meetings with the heads of businesses in New York and Washington. And he was quite successful with that as many of the top CEOs are already influenced with his promises. Laurence D Fink, CEO at one of the world’s largest investment management firms, BlackRock, assured the prime minister that the firm could facilitate investments worth over $6 billion into the country by early next year. One of the CEOs who met the PM minutes before Fink, told Modi that his firm is looking to invest over half a billion dollars ‘in a short while’ to set up a big manufacturing facility in India for injectable drugs.
Some of the chief executives talked at length about wanting to invest in India’s food chain and agriculture-related sectors, according to the officials present at the meeting while others were eager to invest in infrastructure and energy.
While the Obama administration was all busy to give a red carpet welcome to the Indian Prime Minister, the business sector in India was both excited and hopeful that the trip would yield positive results for the Indian economy. This hope was rejuvenated when the top businessmen of America, after meeting the Prime Minister said that “he is not like the other politicians they’ve seen”. Hosting a breakfast for 11 CEOs, including Indian-origin PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Citigroup chief Michael Corbat, Mr Modi said India was open-minded and wanted change, which was “not one-sided”. Listening carefully about the concerns raised by the business leaders, Mr Modi assured them that his government will address their issues and try to make the environment in India more business-friendly. Describing the meeting as “excellent and very good”, all business leaders were satisfied and delighted that the Prime Minister heard their concerns and listed out his government’s priority areas to take forward the India story to higher levels.
Earlier during the visit, Narendra Modi also assured the businessmen that he want to convert the Supreme Court judgment on coal allocations into an opportunity to move forward and clean up the past. The Supreme Court recently quashed the allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks allotted to various companies since 1993, terming it as “fatally flawed”, and allowed the government to take over the operations of 42 such blocks which are functional. The PM also told the business leaders that “infrastructure development is a big opportunity; it creates jobs and enhances quality of life of our citizens”. Modi also reiterates India’s WTO stance saying that while India supported the trade pact, its demand for food stockpiles were not incompatible with it.
“Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go”
Chalein Saath Saath, forward together we go. As leaders of two great democratic nations with diverse traditions and faiths, we share a vision for a partnership in which the United States and India work together, not just for the benefit of both our nations, but for the benefit of the world.
We have vastly different histories, but both our founders sought to guarantee freedoms that allow our citizens to determine their own destiny and pursue their personal aspirations. Our strategic partnership rests on our shared mission to provide equal opportunity for our people through democracy and freedom.
The currents of kinship and commerce, scholarship and science tie our countries together. They allow us to rise above differences by maintaining the long-term perspective. Every day, in myriad ways, our cooperation fortifies a relationship that matches the innumerable ties between our peoples, who have produced works of art and music, invented cutting-edge technology, and responded to crises across the globe.
Our strategic partnership is a joint endeavor for prosperity and peace. Through intense consultations, joint exercises, and shared technology, our security cooperation will make the region and the world safe and secure. Together, we will combat terrorist threats and keep our homelands and citizens safe from attacks, while we respond expeditiously to humanitarian disasters and crises. We will prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and remain committed to reducing the salience of nuclear weapons, while promoting universal, verifiable, and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.
We will support an open and inclusive rules-based global order, in which India assumes greater multilateral responsibility, including in a reformed United Nations Security Council. At the United Nations and beyond, our close coordination will lead to a more secure and just world.
Climate change threatens both our countries, and we will join together to mitigate its impact and adapt to our changing environment. We will address the consequences of unchecked pollution through cooperation by our governments, science and academic communities. We will partner to ensure that both countries have affordable, clean, reliable, and diverse sources of energy, including through our efforts to bring American-origin nuclear power technologies to India.
We will ensure that economic growth in both countries brings better livelihoods and welfare for all of our people. Our citizens value education as a means to a better life, and our exchange of skills and knowledge will propel our countries forward. Even the poorest will share in the opportunities in both our countries.
Joint research and collaboration in every aspect—ranging from particles of creation to outer space—will produce boundless innovation and high technology collaboration that changes our lives. Open markets, fair and transparent practices will allow trade in goods and services to flourish.
Our people will be healthier as we jointly counter infectious diseases, eliminate maternal and child deaths, and work to eradicate poverty for all. And they will be safer as we ensure the fullest empowerment of women in a secure environment.
The United States and India commit to expand and deepen our strategic partnership in order to harness the inherent potential of our two democracies and the burgeoning ties between our people, economies, and businesses. Together we seek a reliable and enduring friendship that bolsters security and stability, contributes to the global economy, and advances peace and prosperity for our citizens and throughout the world.
We have a vision that the United States and India will have a transformative relationship as trusted partners in the 21st century. Our partnership will be a model for the rest of the world.
(Indo-US vision statement)
On the contrary of some good achievements, Narendra Modi visit was also overshadowed with people protesting against him and his visit to US. Protesters outside Madison Square Garden gathered with anti-Modi slogans. A group had filed a lawsuit in a federal court in New York and the court issued a summons for Modi. It was filed on behalf of victims of the Gujarat violence that claimed more than 1,000 lives, mostly Muslims. The group offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who is able to serve the summons on Mr Modi, even though as a head of state he enjoys immunity from lawsuits in American courts while in the US. The protesters outside the venue said the Indian leader failed to stop the anti-Muslim rioting as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002. Signs read “Modi, the fascist” and “Stop spreading hate in the name of Hinduism.”
It was the US in the first place who revoked the visa of Narendra Modi who was then Chief Minister of Gujarat. His visa was revoked over allegations that he didn’t do enough to stop deadly riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002 when he was chief minister there, which he denies. The riots left at least 1,000 people, the majority of them Muslim, dead. The Supreme Court last year while giving clean-chit to him said that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute Modi. Even after the court ruling, the US still did not accept his innocence and continued the ban. It was the time when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister after winning with a thumping majority; the US authority had no option but to welcome him as the head of the state.
The US sudden love for India and especially for Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi raises many eyebrows. It can be understood in a way that as Modi expressed 21st century to be of Asia, so the US is seeking to gain control in the Asian region. And while it’s main hurdle being China, the US has shown its interest to seek closer ties with India, as it is a democratic bulwark against China.
In the midst of all these, the popularity graph of Narendra Modi escalated to a new level. On the day of his Maddison Square Garden speech, he was trending on top, on the social media worldwide.
This was an indication that the social media has already accepted him as an international figure.
His love for the social media, which was seen during his election campaign, is admired by everyone.
Even an article in the New York Times advised American politicians seek help from him to do well on social media.
Narendra Modi stands tall on second position only behind Barak Obama in number of fans of his official Facebook page. His Twitter account and that of his office are among the fastest growing among politicians and elected officials worldwide. Among public figures who have some political sway, he trails only Mr. Obama, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis in Twitter followers, with 6.62 million. His social media success is not simply because of India’s population. It’s the result of a strategy to use social platforms to bypass traditional media outlets and reach supporters directly. India’s online population, an estimated 200 million people, skews young and urban, which could provide an electoral backbone to any candidate or party that secures its support.
Overall, the visit was full of shock and awe but one thing has been cleared out, Narendra Modi has gained a world-level prominence.
By Rohan Pal