Asia Reacts to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Fourth Visit to the United States

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On June 8, 2016 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his three-day visit to the United States with a speech before a joint session of Congress. Since coming to office in 2014, Prime Minister Modi has now visited the United States four times and met with President Obama seven times. During this most recent visit President Obama announced that the United States formally recognizes India as a "major defense partner" and supports India's bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). 

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"Over the years, the US has been bending the rules to back India's nuclear projects. Against the backdrop of Washington's accelerated pace of promoting its pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, it will be highly likely to keep supporting New Delhi's nuclear ambitions, in order to make it a stronger power to contain China." - Fu Xiaoqiang, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations 

“As for Washington, it is always hoping that India could serve as its right hand to counterbalance China's rise. But so far, Washington's calculations do not work well. Turning down Washington's invitation to join a patrol in the South China Sea, New Delhi has no intention to cast away its founding principles: independence and non-alignment. In the process of fulfilling its ambition to be a major power, India has always employed independent and pragmatic approaches. A balance between other major powers will be its primary and optimal choice.”


 "India only becomes, by and large, a focus of U.S. presidents during their second term. This is not because they view India as a second-rate or second-tier country - they do not. Yet, for Bill Clinton, George Bush Junior, and now Obama, a series of factors and priorities pushed India onto their second-term foreign policy agendas. [...] Under a Trump presidency, it is unlikely India will be on the radar at all. [...] So, how does India become a 'first term country' for 'president' Hillary Clinton? [...] ][I]t must become a reliable partner for the United States on matters of common interest [...and] maintain its position as a 'bright spot' in U.S. foreign policy."

"Kashmir was, to our knowledge, never mentioned during Modi's meeting with the U.S. Congress. No one asked the hard questions. Instead, a man who was, until just two years ago banned from entering the U.S. because of his suspected involvement in the Gujarat massacre, was greeted with three minutes of applause when he entered the Chambers. [...] While India could rejoice, this was hardly a reason for optimism for Kashmir. Money and morality tend to be quite incompatible, wear different robes, and have different rituals." 

"However, one question that should haunt the Modi government is what India would gain by extending its cooperation to the US in its efforts to contain China? We have not seen and do not hope that the US would build pressure upon China to ask Pakistan to stop sponsoring terrorism against India from its soil. In fact, the US pursues the policy of containment and accommodation towards China. [...] Unfortunately, the Modi government is falling in the US trap." 

“This is a relationship that can deservedly, today, be granted an affirmation of good health and as far as foreign policy narratives go, India under Mr. Modi has moved beyond the hesitations of history, as the Prime Minister put it, to a state of “comfort, candour and convergence” in its “extraordinary” partnership with the U.S. The stress is on “long-term”, whether it is cooperation in clean energy, including nuclear power, greenhouse gas emission controls, renewable power, or in combating the threat of terrorists accessing chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological materials.”

"The agreement covers a range of issues from climate change and India’s commitment to enforce the Paris Declaration; on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) endorsing the U.S. objectives which are declared as common interests of India as well; civilian nuclear cooperation and importantly defence agreements. “This has dangerous implications for India’s relations with the South Asian countries. India’s interests in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region have now been equated with the U.S. interests and the U.S. strategic objective of ‘containment of China.’” – statement from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) 

“Indian newspapers hinted at the “rising status” of India on the global stage, whereas the US media pointed out a (positive) shift in India’s attitude to US military intervention, from scepticism to conformity. While Indian newspapers counted the number of applause received by the Prime Minister, the American Media mostly focused on PM Modi’s appreciation of US leadership and democracy.”

Expert discusses the pitfalls India will face in its military export capabilities, economics, and relations with China as it moves towards a closer relationship with the United States. 

“The rest is sideshow. Thus, take, for instance, India’s status as “Major Defence Partner”. It means that the US prioritises India as a buyer of American weapons and technology and puts it on par with its allies. Does it mean favourable pricing? No. Does it mean free flow of military technology? No. The proof of the pudding lies in the US’s willingness to actually step into co-designing and co-producing advanced weaponry with India. So far it is all confined to words. The US’ track record is abysmally poor even with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or NATO allies.”

“NSG [Nuclear Suppliers Group] membership will not be the only casualty in Modi’s push for joining American-led alliance against China. Modi’s gambit will also cost India’s quest for permanent seat at the UN Security Council. China is the only permanent member with a veto that has not come out openly supporting India’s bid. If Modi hopes to bring a change in China’s position, that will be only possible by working with Chinese leadership, not by being part of a military alliance against it. India getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council looks like a distant dream.”

“Talking of Trump's role in this whole setup, he had announced his "America First" views and his unorthodox campaign, and even though he has said little about India, Indian officials are worried with his vows to tighten immigration policies, which is why Modi wants to get as much as he can out of Obama's last months in the office.”

“Indian moves towards the United States are driven in large measure by China’s openly hostile acts vis-a-vis India. The Modi government’s initial outreach towards China has not resulted in any improvement in bilateral ties. Instead China’s anti-India posture seems to have taken a new vehemence.”

“Now that the US wants to befriend India to take on China and India finds itself in an enviable position. The greatest challenge before India is how to strike a fine balance of its relationship between its neighbor and strategic rival China, and the US.” 


Analysis by various regional experts of the significance of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most recent visit to the United States. 

Additional Topics in the Asia Reacts to...Series

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Secretary of State John Kerry's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
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Nominations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Donald Trump's First Foreign Policy Speech
President Barack Obama's First Visit to Vietnam
President Barack Obama's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Deployment
 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
President Barack Obama's Final Trip to Asia
 First Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Second Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States
 President-Elect Donald Trump's Talks with Asian Leaders
The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump
 President Donald Trump's Executive Order on the Trans-Pacific Partnership 
US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord 
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