~ By Ram Madhav Varanasi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to set foot on US at around 2 PM today. Hours before his arrival in the US, excitement is palpable everywhere. PM Modi is not the first Indian Prime Minister to visit this country, nor is he going to be the last. Yet his visit, maiden one after becoming the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy, has generated tremendous interest and interest among not only the Indian American community but also among the US Law-makers, administration and the government.
Shri Narendra Modi is visiting US after a stupendous victory three months ago in the world’s largest democracy where an electorate bigger than the population of USA and Europe has used its democratic right of franchise to elect him as their leader. He pulled off a sort of revolution by securing majority to the BJP on its own thus forming a coalition government that is absolutely stable and strong. PM Modi’s support base includes all sections of Indian society, most importantly the youth. He represents the aspirational young population of India.
Naturally the expectations are that through this visit PM Modi will rejuvenate Indo-US ties that have slowed down in the last few years due to various domestic and international factors. During his visit to India in 2010 President Obama had called for making Indo-Us relationship “the defining partnership in the 21st Century”. The US administration certainly looks up to PM Modi’s visit for such a major leap forward.
For PM Modi this is not a bilateral visit alone. He is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday. The world leaders are keenly looking forward to his address to the UNGA and his position on various international issues. Pakistan Prime Minister’s speech, scheduled for a day early, is likely to touch upon a raw nerve or two too. Besides, PM Modi has bilateral meetings lined up with a few important heads of nations. However the bilateral part of the visit that takes place on 29-30 September is what the people in India and the US are eagerly looking forward to.
Prime Minister’s engagements include meetings with business leaders, investor companies and Indian American community. He is also scheduled to meet President Obama for a Summit Meeting followed by meetings with Vice President, Speaker etc. Thus his visit includes G2B – Government to Business and G2P – Government to People agenda besides of course G2G – Government to Government agenda.
PM Modi’s USP is his single-minded focus on India’s economic development. He has set his eyes on the goal of making every Indian rich in a few years from now. Towards that end his government is pursuing a number of economic policies that have the power of propelling inclusive economic development. As part of his drive to strengthen India’s economic basics he is also scouting for INVESTMENTS to flow into India.
He did it in Japan and with China; and he is expected to do the same here in the US. For sometime now India’s economic climate has been vitiated so much by wrong policies that the investor is scared to look at an otherwise goldmine-like MARKET in india. PM Modi’s biggest challenge is to bring back investor confidence in India. He has to reassure the global investor that there won’t be any sudden taxation regime changes.
There is considerable enthusiasm in the business community in US over his visit. They had seen him as Chief Minister of Gujarat successfully pursuing development-oriented economic policies that have benefited his people greatly. They expect him to do the same at the national level as Prime Minister. This forms his G2B engagement in US.
His G2G engagement is also crucial. As two world’s important and big democracies, India and US have many shared objectives and concerns. Besides economics India and US share a major common concern in the form of terrorism. Terrorism is an enemy of democracies. It is a global menace now. Both our countries have been working together on issues of terrorism and homeland security. Furthering this cooperation in fight against global terror is an important issue for both the governments.
There is a need for the US to review its policy with regard to addressing this global terror network. We have the epicentre of global terror in India’s neighbourhood. The US must keep in mind that a stable and strong government in Afghanistan is critical to addressing the menace of terrorism.
India and US have been cooperating in defence related sectors too. India is committed to strengthen its defence establishment in view of the regional environment it is forced to live in. There is no clash of interests for both our countries in this regard. However the US shouldn’t see India merely as an export destination for defence equipment. PM Modi is keen on making India a manufacturer not only of consumer goods but also defence equipment. His Make in India campaign includes both high-tech and low-tech industry. The US can use technology transfer route to boost India’s defence industry.
The most important factor in Indo-US relations is the more than 4 million Indians living in this country. They are greatly excited over the visit of PM Modi. He is going to address them on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. It is a basket ball stadium and the biggest available one in New York with a seating capacity of about 20,000. The stadium is already overbooked for PM Modi’s event being hosted by Indian American Community Foundation. The fact that no other world leader has ever attempted such a big event in New York goes to show the popularity of PM Modi and the enthusiasm of the Indian American community to meet and greet him. A large number of Congressmen are also expected to turn up at the event to greet Modi.
Prime Minister Modi today represents a new India of 1.2 billion self-confident Indians. The US administration and the world leaders will see a leader who is himself confidence personified. And they will learn to deal with a new India – youthful, energetic and eager to grow and progress. India’s rise is a good news for all those who care for peace, stability and prosperity in the world.
And Prime Minister Modi is the leader destined to script that growth story for India.
Ram Madhav Varanasi is the General Secretary of Bhartiya Janata Party and the Director of India Foundation. The views expressed are his own.