Modi’s Trump Adventure- A Face-Saver for Modi
The meeting between Modi and Trump has marked a new era in the Indo-US relationship, not because of both leaders’ standing in the global arena as well as their standing in their respective countries but also Donald Trump’s surprise elevation to the presidency and his attitude in putting “America First”.
Meeting Between Modi and Trump
India has long been a victim of finding support from the US since its independence because of its tag of an ally of the erstwhile Soviet Union. But, there is a paradigm shift in US policy and world order since 9/11, the world trade center attack. In the last 15 years, there is a considerable growing closeness between the two countries and appear to have understood each other’s compulsions, advantages, and disadvantages.
The emergence of China and India in the new global order, the weakening of the US hold on the political, economical, and technological front in addition to the decline of Russian supremacy, particularly on the military front led to this situation.
Modi’s achievement in finding good rapport with President Trump
Modi’s success should be analyzed in terms of finding good rapport with Trump rather than what he achieved on social, political, economical, and international front when the world is struggling to balance with one of the most unpredictable Presidents of America.
In many ways, both Trump and Modi have similarities on issues of radical Islamic terror, economy, and national security. Putting their respective countries first theory has played a major role in bringing both Trump and Modi to power. Those who were expecting Modi would bring the moon for India would definitely be disappointed, even Modi would be taking shy of relief after Hizbul chief Salahuddin was recognized as an international terrorist.
There are people in India and even political analysts and strategic experts who have the habit of pushing for declaring Pakistan as a terrorist state, that is utterly impossible and I don’t think a country like America will ever do that, considering Pak as its long-standing cold war ally and having deep strategic interest in Afghanistan.
In fact, many would agree with the fact that Trump saved Modi by behaving well and recognizing India’s concern, otherwise it would have been difficult for Chaiwala PM to save his face.
Modi failed to raise the H-1B visa issue
There were issues related to outsourced jobs and H-1B visa restrictions, which is becoming a pain for the Indian IT sector, but there was no mention of those, in fact, it was not even raised in a one-to-one meeting. That gives an indication that Trump is still clinging to his election promises for keeping America above all.
As far as military cooperation is concerned, the short official statement released by the Pentagon shortly after the meeting praises India’s long-term efforts of finding stability in the Indian Ocean region. It also speaks that both countries had agreed to continue the strong defense ties and widen military to military engagements, not to forget the United States termed India as a major defense partner last year in granting access to U.S. defense technology at the same level as other U.S. allies, which was seen as only a slogan.
Of course, the sale of U.S. Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles to India was confirmed, which marks an indication that India is in the process of becoming a major defense partner of the USA. Whenever there is close engagement between US and India, there is talk of controlling China, the immediate neighbor.
But, no direct references to the South China Sea rather than talk of all nations to resolve territorial and maritime disputes in accordance with international law. The biggest achievement of Modi & co. is on the terrorism front with the acceptance by Trump that the U.S. and India would destroy radical Islamic terrorism without mentioning the name of Pakistan.
The Afghanistan issue was mentioned in both leaders’ remarks and Trump thanked the India and Indian people for their contributions to Afghanistan and both nations would play an important role in rebuilding Afghanistan and ensuring its security. Trump also praised India for joining the coalition in applying new sanctions against North Korea, considering India is one of North Korea’s biggest trading partners.
There was no mention of the climate change issue where Trump has a hawkish attitude. On the issue of India’s permanent membership at UN Security Council or the Nuclear Suppliers Group, instead of naming them directly, Modi noted that India is extremely grateful for the continued support of the US for India’s membership of international institutions and regimes.
Behavior of Trump with Modi compared to other world leaders
The high-profile meetings of world leaders are generally laden with photo ops, exchange of gifts, and routine statements, and major economic and diplomatic decisions are hardly announced on such occasions. In that context, Narendra Modi-Donald Trump meet was not very different. Both greeted each other like true friends and said goodbye in style.
Nobody knows whether it’s the beginning of the Obama-Modi type relationship. In his approach, Trump was clear that the relationship with India will be based on Give-Take and Fair-Reciprocal. In that way, it’s a great face-saver and adventure for Modi on the personal front as well as back home, considering Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with Trump in March 2017.