More than the India-US strategic partnership, the focus seems to be on the spectacle and show
By Dan Mayur
As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to embark on a much-talked about state visit to the US, there is bound to be discussions and debates. But more than the talk on what the visit would do for the strategic partnership between India and the US, the focus seems to be on the spectacle and show.
No prizes, for guessing that the upcoming visit also brings back memories of the last visit of Modi back in 2019. The visit also saw Howdy Modi, a high-profile community summit in Houston that attracted some 50,000 Indians and none other than the then US President Donald Trump joining him.
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My memories of attending that full house event in the giant stadium can be summed up in one sentence – I was more amused than impressed!
I felt that it was one big hoopla with little substance. In my opinion, Modi is a big showman, with a terrific gift of gab. Few leaders in the world have such phenomenal ability to speak. He is witty, fluent and dynamic.
The carefully selected and invited audience absolutely loves his chest thumping and what he says. But the question is – does it lead to something really meaningful and constructive?
I recall, in Houston, he said something to the wildly cheering audience that was totally uncalled for and reflected extremely poorly on his judgement and diplomatic skill. He led the attendees to the nonsensical chant of “Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar” (This time, Trump government).
It was just before the 2020 election and Modi was courting Trump in a manner not becoming of a head of state. He absolutely did not have to do that. There was no need to involve himself in foreign politics. Now his friend, Trump may be heading for jail and Modi has to deal with Trump’s nemesis Biden.
Actually, a visit like this can be greatly beneficial to both countries with a proper focus on real issues of mutual interest like trade, immigration, academic cooperation, R&D collaboration in various areas and global peace instead of using it as a mere photo-op, same old speech making and a huge party of wealthy NRIs.
I will be in Washington on a private trip this week, when Modi will be meeting selected NRI invitees on the White House lawn. I did not make the cut for the invitees. But that is just as well!
(Dan Mayur is a Texas based author who writes about the social, economic and cultural lives in India and America and how the cross-cultural connections often intersect immigrant lives. His books include Mumbai to Stockholm via New York and The Four Ls: A Memoir)