Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the third PM after French and South Korean presidents who will get the honor of having state dinner in the US and he will be first PM to address a joint session of Congress for the second time, which reflects the keenness of the Biden administration to cement ties between two nations. US politicians, media, Indian diaspora, etc. have shown a lot of interest in Modi’s visit which may prove path breaking as it will lead to signing of several agreements especially in the field of defense.
In this changed geo-political scenario, India is gradually occupying center stage which can be attributed to its growing economic potential and meaningful space being attained by it in advanced technology thereby fast emerging as challenger to China in future. Modi has accorded an immense importance to his US visit which is evident from the Tweet which says ”I am honored to accept and look forward to addressing a Joint Meeting of the Congress once again. We are proud of our Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with the US, built upon the foundation of shared democratic values, strong people-to-people ties, and an unwavering commitment to global peace and prosperity."
Modi's visit will focus on defense industrial cooperation to speed up 'Atmanirbhar' vision
Several meetings held between top officials of US and India have broadly finalized the roadmap to enhance technology cooperation and defense industrial cooperation which will give a boost to Modi’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar’ to become self-dependent in this field. The proposed agreements will also be related to surveillance and reconnaissance, undersea domain and munitions, mobility systems, air combat and intelligence. Modi and Biden are set to give practical shape to the agreements which will help India to gain the access to cutting-edge technologies thereby boosting India’s defense modernization plan in future. The cutting-edge technology will be pushed to an advanced stage with the help of new initiative called as India-US Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X). Biden and Modi may discuss issues of global relevance which include Afghan crisis and implications, cross border terrorism, boosting the strategic clean energy partnership, bolstering bilateral trade and investment, emerging technologies in the world etc.
The US visit takes place against the backdrop of geopolitical developments
Experts say that America has enjoyed unchallenged prominent position in the world arena, especially after the downfall of Russia in 90s leading to end of Cold War and focused on its self-centered interests only which had dictated its illogical stand on Pakistan’s open support to terrorists in Kashmir. US indulged in strong opposition to dare devil decisions taken by Mrs Gandhi (May 18,1974) and Atal Bihari Vajpayee (May 11,1998) to opt for nuclear tests to make India as nuclear power in the world. It was the twin tower attack by Osama Bin Laden which opened the eyes of Americans who started feeling the pain of innocent killings in Kashmir.
In this background, experts believe that Modi’s visit assumes a worldwide importance as America has opted to fall upon India to counter China though the latter also needs a strong alliance to check Expansion policy of Dragon and the visit will open new avenues and new alternatives. Second, Modi’s four-day visit from June 21 to 24 has got a lot of relevance and significance as it will lead to signing of agreements related to defense and the economic field which will be of mutual interest. Third, ex-diplomats and foreign policy experts feel that America is taking the Road and Belt initiative of China seriously which is a tactical tool to trap South Asian nations and it can be checked by India only which will prefer to alienate Pakistan and the Dragon. Fourth, China is constantly eyeing the South China Sea and even Japan feels threatened which makes other allies unsafe and Modi will definitely prefer to counter it with the help of the Biden administration. Fifth, India is fast emerging as digital and technology giant which can prove fruitful in creating the alternate supply channels and manufacturing hub to replace China which is already feeling the heat owing to America’s initiatives to reduce dependence on Dragon. America is aiming at its last resort to completely stop chips supply in future to cripple Chinese commuters-based industry. India is certain to enter in this arena which will come up for discussion between two leaders of biggest democracies.
The Ukraine war is hurting the West and America, which may figure prominently
The entire world is aware of decades old strong defense and traditional relations between India and Russia which has kept the oil supply channel open despite the strong opposition of America and west. PM Modi may dwell upon this factor and America has to accept India’s stand which is in the interest of the people of India. Modi’s visit will clear the air on this front also and a long term policy may be discussed so that an alternative to current dependence on Russia can be reduced and America can step in to fill the void which will un-nerve China.
India and US can jointly thwart the attempt of China to indulge in territorial aggression
Experts believe that China is camouflaging the world by holding several rounds of dialogue with India as it has adopted inflexible stand on its transgression of India territory and patrolling points hence India is keep to have an effective long term plan to give befitting reply to China which may continue its policy of aggression on LOC. Experts believe that India and America need to protect South Asian nations from the debt trap policy of China which helps in controlling its growing influence and tentacles thereby enhancing the security threat in the region. Modi and Biden may dwell upon these security issues which are of vital importance to both countries.
Groundwork by officials of both nations for Modi's visit
It was national security advisor, Ajit Doval’s visit to the United States six months ago when he expressed his opinion about India-US ties to counterpart, Sullivan that “time is running fast hence we do not have much time at our disposal which warrants concrete road map to face challenges including China’s threat on security.” Now Sullivan concluded his discussion with Doval in Delhi prior to Modi’s visit to US. Both NSAs unveiled ambitious long term plan for Indo-US collaboration in seven specific high-technology areas, next generation telecommunication strategy, semiconductors, defense and artificial intelligence. They announced second Track-1.5 dialogue on the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (ICET) which had been organized by industry chamber CII. But both top officials confined themselves to covering bilateral and regional issues only and nothing beyond it. Earlier, the spadework was done by US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin who held several meetings with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and senior Indian officials in New Delhi. Similarly, Foreign Secretary, Vinay Kwatra met Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in the US to prepare the ground for Modi’s visit and above engagements highlighted the shared objectives of the two nations in terms of close cooperation and regional security.
Indian diaspora to accord a huge welcome to Modi
A huge welcome is on the cards which will be organized by the Indian diaspora at the prestigious Kennedy Center organized by Aghi and USISPF who have got a lot of relevance in American politics and India’s growth. According to Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Finance Minister, overseas Indians' remittances to India increased by 12 % to 100 USD in 2022 as compared to 2021 which are of utmost importance to India’s economy. She emphasized the dire requirement of the Indian diaspora to partner with small and big businessmen of the country so that the entrepreneurial skills of NRIs can be harnessed in the next 25 years during the 'Amrit Kaal' of independence and described NRIs as the "real ambassadors of India”.
Analysts opine that Modi’s visit is being billed as path breaking event which may take India-US ties to a new height and checkmate policy of aggression of China on LOC besides helping US to retain its status of Super Power which seems to be in danger in view of over ambition of Dragon to displace it in future.
(Writer is political analyst and senior journalist based in Shimla)