Rajat Sharma


AKBHours before the formal welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on White House lawns, the White House said today that the official state visit of the Indian PM will “strengthen the shared commitment to a prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific region and affirm deep and close partnership between the two largest democracies of the world”. Modi and US President Joe Biden will announce today a mega deal for purchase of General Atomics MQ-9 ‘Reaper’ armed drones, that can operate up to 50,000 feet carrying 1,746 kg payload capacity and can stay in air for over 27 hours. Hours before the official meeting between Modi and Biden in the Oval Office on Thursday, a senior US administration official announced that India has decided to join the Artemis Accords under which NASA and ISRO have agreed to a joint mission to International Space Station in 2024. The historic Modi-Biden summit will also result in an unprecedented deal on co-producing GE F414 jet engines for fighter aircraft in India. The next 36 hours of Modi’s stay in the US will be very important for India. It is easy to argue that the US wants to “use” India for increasing its might and American companies will benefit from defence deals. The ground reality is that India, by adopting a neutral stance in Ukraine war, has shown to the world that it does not work under any external pressure, nor can any country use Modi to its own advantage. India needs the USA more than American needs India. Why would a country spend so much of its time if it has no need? Let me give one example. India needs to create more jobs, needs more investments in infrastructure sector, increase its manufacturing capacity and expand its global trade. US can play a big role in all these sectors. It would be incorrect on part of the opposition to oppose Modi’s US visit only because the Indian PM will get most of the credit and this can help him in next year’s general elections. Today we must think beyond that. Let me give another example. India faces security challenges at a time when we face threat from China, which has global ambitions. China is working on territorial expansion, and if India has to counter China, it may need American support. There is no point rejecting US help. If our armed forces have to counter China properly, our armed forces need modern weapons, better equipment and state-of-the-art intelligence. American experience and technology can help us in this field. This is the reason why China is worried about Modi’s USA trip.


In New York, when top American business tycoons, Nobel prize winner economist, astrophysicist and thought leaders praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, it was a proud moment for India. Modi also took part in International Day of Yoga celebration on the lawns of United Nations headquarters with participants from more than 130 countries, which included diplomats and celebrities. It was a Guinness Book world record. It was a vindication of Modi’s constant efforts to popularize Yoga across the world. If the US President invites 8,000 people to the White House lawns to welcome Modi, it is a moment of pride for India. When Prime Minister Modi goes to address the US Congress for the second time, it is an honour for 143 crore Indians. But I was surprised when the Congress party, which ruled India for more than 60 years, raised objections. Congress posted a picture of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru doing Yoga and wrote: “On International Day of Yoga, we thank Pandit Nehru, who was instrumental in popularising Yoga and even made it a part of national policy. Let us appreciate the importance of the ancient art and philosophy in our physical and mental wellbeing and take steps to incorporate it in our lives.” Indirectly, Congress is asking why credit is being given to Narendra Modi for getting world recognition for Yoga. It was Congress MP Shashi Tharoor who tweeted his reply to his own party: “Indeed! We should also acknowledge all those who revived and popularised yoga, including our government @PMOIndia and @MEAIndia for internationalising International Yoga Day through the UN. As I have argued for decades, yoga is a vital part of our soft power across the world and it’s great to see it recognized.” The Congress Party then tweeted a video showing how US Presidents received the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru when he visited the US twice. The tweet probably sought to underline the fact that US President Biden did not go to the airport to receive Modi. Congress, which has ruled India for decades, must know that conditions have changed since 1949 and it is 2023. Security protocols have changed. Congress leaders did not like NRIs chanting ‘Modi Modi’ slogans, nor US thought leaders and business tycoons praising Modi. In response, Congress released a letter signed by 75 US Senators and Congressmen urging Biden to raise issues relating to religious intolerance and press freedom during his conversations with Modi. Neither Indian nor the US government reacted to this letter. US National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said, Modi’s US visit will “affirm the strong ties between our two countries and elevate our strategic partnership. …US supports India’s emergence as a great power.”

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