Washington: Top American experts on India have hailed President Donald Trump's decision on joining Prime Minster Narendra Modi for the mega diaspora event "Howdy, Mody!" in Houston on September 22 and jointly address a record crowd of more than 50,000 Indian-Americans.
On Monday, White House announced that Trump will participate in the "Howdy, Modi! Shared Dreams, Bright Futures," event with Prime Minister Modi. The message will undoubtedly be one of strengthening the strategic partnership, as well as supporting Modi personally, the experts said.
"It will be a great opportunity to emphasise the strong ties between the people of the United States and India, to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the world's oldest and largest democracies, and to discuss ways to deepen their energy and trade relationship," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
"The decision by President Trump to attend the event in Houston sends a strong message that the issue of Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and Article 370 is an internal issue for India. It also sends a message that the Trump administration is not bothered by the noise created by Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan," Mukesh Aghi president of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum told PTI.
"It is a win-win for both the leaders: For Prime Minister Modi the fact that President Trump has agreed to come and show support to the Prime Minister and to India that he values this relationship. For President Trump that he gets a captive audience of Indian-Americans, a community that contributes significantly to political campaign," he said.
More than 50,000 Indian-Americans from across the US have already registered for the mega diaspora event to be held at the sprawling NRG Stadium in Houston. "It send a message globally that India-US relationship is important and critical and by Pres Trump attending the event shows the further strengthening of the partnership," Aghi said.
"Prime Minister Modi's visit is an opportunity to take the US-India relationship to new levels. President Trump travelling to Texas, along with a bipartisan Congressional delegation, signals the importance that the United States places on our strategic partnership with India," said Nisha Desai Biswal, president of US India Business Council (USIBC).
"I do not have a sense of whether this is entirely without precedent or not (the fact of a foreign head of government addressing such a large crowd and the accompaniment of the US president). It does suggest a desire on the president's part to put forward a show of support for Modi, coming on the heels of a tough period on the trade front, and tensions over Trump's Kashmir mediation offer," said Alyssa Ayres from the Council on Foreign Relations.
"President Trump's decision to attend Modi's rally is a significant signal of the importance that this administration places on its relationship with India," said Anish Goel from New America think-tank. This signifies a further strengthening of US-India ties and comes at a critical time for both countries in the realms of trade and mutual security, said M Rangaswami, an eminent Indian American from the Silicon Valley, a top venture capitalist and philanthropist.
"It is frankly risky for any world leader to share a stage with President Trump. But Modi may well be able to use this event, and Trump's participation, to smooth the way for some modest substantive agreement on trade, or to divert attention from the gradually rising chorus of American concerns over India's policies in Kashmir," noted Joshua White, a former White House national security official under the previous Obama Administration.
Despite US-India tensions over a growing range of issues, President Trump respects Prime Minister Modi, said Rick Rossow from the Centre for Strategic and International Relations think-tank. "His decision to join Prime Minister Modi in Houston is significant, showing that the upside of our relationship still outweighs these short-term differences. Head-of-state engagements provide important opportunities to attempt to resolve differences, notably our long list of trade concerns," he said.
Ayres, however, noted that Modi will arrive in the US to concern about the long period over which Kashmiri politicians have been detained and communications blocked in the region, and the US media will likely have questions about why the world's largest democracy has taken these harsh steps. "Personally, I hope the politicians will be released ASAP and communications restored to normal," she said.