PM Modi's US visit - A Litmus test of 'old ties' and New Friendship

M Chuba Ao 
BJP National Vice President 

Development, Democracy and Diversity and possibly in that order marks the significant journeyof the foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The world is seeking a closer affinity towards India and it is not without good reason. 

The 'India story' is not just a 'New India' sloganeering, it is an "uplifting story", says the magazine 'The Economist'.

The article has come on the eve of PM Shri Modi's historic US visit. Modi will be on a tripbetween June 20 to 25 on a 'state visit'. This so-called State Visit to the United States is noordinary affair. It is out of the box. A state visit to the US is regarded as a coveted and unique honour.

Such honours are given by the US President in office to his closest friends and allies.

US President Joe Biden has made deepening ties with India a cornerstone of his foreign policy largely to ‘counter China's growing influence.’

The world's two largest democracies and influential players in two continents will now cooperate on advanced military technologies. Both the countries may in near future also work on a more formalised security alliance. Every efforts made by certain quarters including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visiting the US with his concocted stories have not had any impact on the policy makers in both the countries. 

India's GDP is expected to overtake Japan’s and Germany’s by 2028 and the Prime Minister’s visit will bolster economic tiesand strengthen diplomatic relations. There will be some new and unique defence deals.India's defence ministry has last week approved the major acquisition of 31 weaponised Predator orMQ-9B SeaGuardian drones from the US, clearing the decks for the formal announcement of the mega deal. 

Media reports are already debating the drones deal for 18 Predator-B armed drones. These drones can long-range precision strikes and surveillance along borders and maritime areas. India and the US are also close to signing a military deal that would allow them to jointly develop fighter jet engines. Noted aerospace manufacturing giant General Electric Co. (GE) will join hands with our own public sector, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to produce the engines for the Tejas light-combat aircraft, reports claim. 

This year India chairs the G-20 Presidium. So far, the Team Modi handling the foreign policyengine room comprising PM himself and aided by External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and NSAAjit Doval and others are playing their parts very well. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, it is true the hostilities between the US and Russia have increased. There is the China-US conflictand New Delhi is in the middle and the central government is doing the balancing act. 

PM Modi himself is now a trusted interlocutor between Global South and the North. I may point out here thatlaunched by India, the G-20 logo of 2023 invokes 'VasudhaivaKutumbakam', Lord Buddha, and MahatmaGandhi. All these are relevant matter a lot in the new era. PM’s visit to Japan to attend G-7 Summit was another event of the year. Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky also met Modi ji on the occasion.

Between the US and India and in the context of PM Modi's visit, the Biden administration’s efforts to accelerate 'technology transfer' to India is an immensely promising area for mutual cooperation.As India’s defence industry will be strengthened; America hopes to also provide an affordable new source of arms or other Asian democracies. This will change the essential global perception about India.

In 2014, when Modi ji attended the G-20 Summit, London-based 'The Guardian' newspaper wrote -"...Modi arrived at the G20 as the political rock star of the summit. As the newly mintedprime minister of the largest democracy the world has ever known, the 64-year-old is the man the otherleaders are seeking out". Modi is today 73 and the Prime Minister --- who loves to be better knownas a BJP Karyakarta - has held his reputation rock solid for the last nine years. 

He has taken India closer to the US and also to countries like Australia, Korea, Japan and Israel andthe Arab world as well. Our political rivals are busy painting the BJP party and our government with a brushthat reflects a world much different from what in reality it is. In 2019, our beloved leader and the then External Affairs Minister Late Sushma Swaraj was invited by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the first time. 

Pakistan had tried to derail the programme but instead Islamabad is much isolated globally today as much the sceneis in contrast with regard the Modi government and India as a global player. 

The Indo-US friendship also gained currency in the new era as the centre of gravity of the global strategic-economy is moving to Asia. The international order is changing fast.Digital revolution has created unprecedented opportunities toempower people and make the world a globalvillage. Yet, there are challenges, tension and turbulence.

The human and economic costs of climate change are serious issues. And, we are witnessing the terrible Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

At the same time, the reach of terror is growing. All these call for united efforts by players like India and theUS and as much other allies and friends of India such as Japan, Australia, Russia and even neighbouring South Asian andASEAN countries.  

But the need to harness an enhanced cooperation with the US, Japan and Australia especially in the blue water front is only significant in the paradigm of the Indian Ocean factor. The importance of the Indian Ocean remains a dominant factor as around 60 per cent of global maritime cargo, including oil suppliesfrom the Middle East passes through Indian Ocean waters.

I can quote Rig Veda here that says-- "God is One but learned men describe Him in many ways”.This means India believes in global unity and a sense of purpose and thus it is not amazing thatIndia has always embraced and found it easy to embrace pluralism. Both India and the US have globalresponsibilities too. One is the world's fifth largest economy and a leader among the developing countries and the largest democracy, while the other is the world's most powerful nation and the second biggest democracy.

The two always needed to come together and it is good that both are exactly doing and planningthe same.