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Thursday, May 23, 2024

PM Modi Emerges As A Visionary Statesman In His 2023 Visit To US

In politics there is no permanent friend or foe. The way even Dr. Jill Biden the first lady of America took care of her outfit radiated a positivity and many find in her emerald green jacket a nod to India which is becoming very important as a nation on the world’s stage. Even the most adamant critic will be surprised to see Modi singing the glory of Democracy like a Statesman and a Visionary rather than a politician who had once been refused American Visa allegedly for masterminding riots in India. Modi’s lecture won standing ovation while he addressed the Congress   and the 79 time applause from the eminent senators in just one lecture is a record which few state head ever can claim to. Who is more important Modi or India – it is very difficult to assess but Modi’s popularity in Washington DC was seismographic.

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By: Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee

In India I was a critic of PM Modi as I never liked his communal motifs and his Hindutva theories. While I am in the US I still do not become a Modi worshipper overnight in spite of all his charisma abroad for his wonderful foreign policy. But this time one colleague of mine asked me in the Virginia Commonwealth University where I am now working as Affiliate Faculty how much I liked his historical speech to the Congress. That very night I was in Washington itself. I simply could tell after listening his extraordinary speech, he is not a politician here in the US he spoke rather like a statesman with a vision. The three great ends for a statesman are security to possessors, facility to acquirers, and liberty and hope to the people. A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman, of the next generation. The art of statesmanship is to foresee the inevitable and to expedite its occurrence.

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What he spoke in favour of democracy here in the US, if it is honestly spoken from his heart, all kudos for him. It is surely not for winning the election of 2024 though the big question is if PM Narendra Damodar Modi really believed in the words which he uttered in his speech to the Congress. He has visited the US five times since he had become Prime Minister in 2014 but his recent visit may be regarded  his magnum opus that he wrote in the history of US India relationship. He has truly created a history. It is so pervasive that people might easily forget what Rahul Gandhi recently told in the Stanford University in his recent visit in May 2023 on the changing world order and India’s crucial role within it when he engaged in a conversation with CDDRL affiliated Scholar Dinsha Mistree. It symbolized for all a firm bonding between Washington and New Delhi. It was his third invitation to the Washington DC In 2014 he was invited by former President Barack Obama and in 2017 he was invited by former President Donald Trump. But never before more intense preparation was made for the Indian Boss in the US not even in the time of Donald Trump who was regarded as Modi’s bosom friend.

In politics there is no permanent friend or foe. The way even Dr. Jill Biden the first lady of America took care of her outfit radiated a positivity and many find in her emerald green jacket a nod to India which is becoming very important as a nation on the world’s stage. Even the most adamant critic will be surprised to see Modi singing the glory of Democracy like a Statesman and a Visionary rather than a politician who had once been refused American Visa allegedly for masterminding riots in India. Modi’s lecture won standing ovation while he addressed the Congress   and the 79 time applause from the eminent senators in just one lecture is a record which few state head ever can claim to. Who is more important Modi or India – it is very difficult to assess but Modi’s popularity in Washington DC was seismographic.

Modi did not talk as the head of the Hindu nationalist party and something of Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi as well as Martin Luther King II could be discovered as a mix mix in his too palatable lecture. We don’t know how sincerely he uttered each line that deserved standing ovation and salutes. Indians inside the country cannot trust that Modi is telling those wonderful words highly rhetorical and no less emotional too. If they are true then one can blindly say that a new Modi is reborn in 2023 in Washington We can forget the vilification of the country’s 200 million Muslims and that there was discrimination against anyone in India in the BJP regime. Abroad our leaders all try to court an ascendant India that Vivekananda or Tagore envisioned. The Americans were truly mesmerized and I personally heard in Washington and Virginia where I had been residing at that time lots of people both Indian and Asian speaking elatedly about Modi. When Modi travelled to Australia last month Prime Minister Anthony Albanese referred to him as ‘The Boss” in front of an arena in Sydney packed with about 20000 people. Modi gave all credit for this not to himself but to India.

Modi’s address to the Congress and the state dinner at the White House needed no alcohol in the glass that Biden served him with his own hands saying cheers intoxicated all no less still. True that a half dozen liberal House Democrats boycotted Modi’s speech to Congress in protest of what they criticized as his abysmal human rights record. But later they too might have regretted their absence not being able to participate in the much coveted dinner and reception from the First Lady who presented Robert Frost’s first published edition of poetry book to Modi and received that special artificial Green diamond from Surat. Who can abstain from being included in this high profile guest list who are offered multicourse meals and top flight entertainment. Indian TV news channels covered Modi’s reception in Washington with adulation praising his diplomatic skills and relying on visuals that may serve him well as he embarks on his re-election campaign.

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Many find in him the image of the ablest world leader who can mediate between Putin and Zelenskyy or Putin or Biden. All know that India is too friendly with Russia and their time tested bonding can overcome all differences. Still the red carpet in Washington given to Modi shows the talents of this great politician who is successful in focusing the rapidly transforming world order where India can play a big role by keeping both its strategic independence and geopolitical balance. A 500 million dollar military equipment and technology package has been signed and it includes jet engines, critical minerals technology and tech transfers. These are serious enticements for a developing country like India especially when India is trying to upgrade its defences. May be the plan of Biden is to draw India to some extent away from Russia and make it a strong partner against China. Whatever India thinks about Russia is not the headache of the US, but India needs a superpower like America to combat China.

Indian diaspora in America joins the adulation and they filled the packed stadium events. They think that the ground realities for Indians in the diaspora is that they are not sure if they really possess the kind of influence and power many of its members, and an uncritical press, often attribute to it. Tesla Chief Elon Musk met Modi in New York to discuss the EV Company’s ambitions in India and the CEO’s of Apple, Google and Microsoft met him. High on the agenda was the deepening of defense ties, partnerships in technology and India’s role in the Indo- Pacific. High on the agenda will be deepening of defense ties, partnerships in technology and India’s role in the Indo-Pacific. The US is looking at India as a partner it can rely on but its partnership will be very different since India is not an ally. Still this partnership is a special one for America this time in spite of India’s steadfast long time shared relationship with Russia which because of the war in Ukraine could not send critical defense weapons it had earlier promised. India has long been interested in buying Sea Guardian drones from the US but the hoped –for deal that could be worth between $2 billion to $3 billion has been long hampered by bureaucratic stumbling blocks. Modi’s visit this time made the deal a little more feasible. India wants to try to keep a wedge between China and Russia because it does not want to contemplate the idea of Russia and China both arrayed against it. Here comes the question of Pakistan from the Indian perspective.

The drones  will enhance the Indian armed forces “Intelligence –surveillance – reconnaissance capabilities” that will aid the country in securing their borders  with China and Pakistan according to Karthik Nachiappan of South Asian Studies t the National University of Singapore. India during this visit of Modi convinced the US that it wants to go beyond a buyer and seller relationship with the US. China is not mentioned but the declaration that the two countries will share commitment to a free open prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific and a resolve to elevate their strategic technology partnership can send cold shiver down the spine of Chinese leaders. Both the US and India share objective of not having an Asia that is dominated by China and this visit strengthened that commitment. India in the last five to ten years has gone very close to the West though it cannot simply detach from Russia under no circumstances. In a word, India and the US are framing relationship that can respond to 21st century challenges and China feels uncomfortable now which gives some satisfaction to Modi and Biden. A politician thinks of the next election, but a statesman thinks of the next generation. We dream that both these great world leaders have thought of new world order in this assurance they gave to one another. Indians and Americans will hope for the better days ahead together. (The author is currently in the US working as Affiliate Faculty in Virginia Commonwealth University, he may be reached at profratanbhattacharjee@gmail.com)

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
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