Politicians will be divided, the diplomats will be cautious, but the next 4 years are crucial to India as a country.
While the deal on the 22 Guardian worth between $2 to 3 billion has not been formally announced, it is considered to be a “game changer” for the US-India relations as it operationalises the status of “major Defence partner”. The offer is still subject to congressional approval.
Bilateral ties between India and US are expected to undergo a paradigm shift both in strategic as well as economic terms as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump met extensively on Monday to discuss issues of mutual concern. Past meetings of Indian and American leaders have been colorful, even affectionate affirmations of the two nations’ “strategic partnership”. Trump has aimed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program through cooperation with China.
Indians are the top beneficiaries of one of the United States’ most popular work visas, the H-1B.
India reportedly wants the drones for surveillance of the Indian Ocean-waters that China’s navy increasingly traverses after establishing its first overseas base in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti. Concerns in New Delhi have centered on whether India will remain a priority relationship for the U.S. He said the External Affairs Ministry is now connected with the poorest of the poor in the country. “Ensure that India is on the US’ radar, and that the new United States administration maintains policy continuity with the last one”, said Shailesh Kumar of the Eurasia group.
India is among the nations singled out by the Trump administration for their trade surpluses with the US, and it is also reviewing a visa program used heavily by skilled Indian workers. Bilateral trade has doubled in a decade, but the value of Indian exports to the U.S.is now $30 billion higher than the flow of goods the other way.
The Prime Minister assured the Indian diaspora in the U.S. that his government will continue to strive to take India to newer heights. Soon India will be seen buying 22 unarmed drones from U.S. in a deal worth $2 billion.
“Indian companies are adding value to the manufacturing and services sectors in the U.S., with total investments of approximately $15 billion and a presence in more than 35 states, including in the Rust Belt”.
There could still be pushback from Congress.
“We are working to convert the aspiration of the people of India”, he added amidst applause from the audience.
So perhaps Modi’s visit to Washington will provide both leaders with a welcome distraction from troublesome domestic politics. Can Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump find a way to put the heat on Pakistan and Pak-sponsored terror?
The personal chemistry between the two leaders could prove as important as policy in setting the tone for the future.
“Eliminating terrorism is among the topmost priorities for us”, Modi said in his joint statement with the U.S. president at the White House Rose Garden.
But there could be increased strains on trade issues.
While Modi is expected to lobby for US visas for technology workers from India, “anti-worker” Modi’s Government has been criticized for generating fewer jobs, cracking down on labor rights and exclusively focusing on foreign investments in its three years in office. New Delhi has been irked by Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accord. In making the announcement, the USA president said New Delhi had made its participation “contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid”. “This kind of 180-degree turn is very concerning to India”.