PM Narendra Modi’s (referred as PM hereafter) visit to the U.S. wasn’t a bilateral one, it had several dimensions to it and we should analyse its success and failures in all the dimension. We should also keep in mind that this was the first major foreign visit by the PM lasting over 7 days and encompassing several regions of the world. Let us analyse his visit in accordance with several theatres of the world and what India hit and miss during these seven days.
If we look at the visit with respect to India -USA relationship, the visit was a mixed bag. India did get a huge endorsement from the USA in terms of Trump attending the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in its stands. The attending of the event was also a signal of good personal chemistry between the two leaders. India managed to use the power of its NRI population which constitute about 1.3% of the total US population as probable voters and use this leverage to direct US policies in its favour.
India also managed to convince the US that whatever it has done in J&K is its internal affair and needs no third party mediation on this issue, a prospect which was very important with Imran Khan being in USA at the same time. PM also met the CEOs of various MNCs from US, who were briefed about the opportunities to invest in India and how India could be the better destination for all their future investment, especially with the recent aggressive rate cuts. These companies outlined their future plans for investment in India in the meeting.
The disappointment, however, came on the trade front with further delaying of the trade deal which was very much expected to be signed during this visit. This delay in the trade deal is hurting the Indian economy more as we are failing to capitalise on the trade opportunity created by US-China trade war.
There was significant development which very few people noticed or even if noticed didn’t understand the importance and gravity of. It was the meeting of the PM with the leaders of the CARICOM (Carribbean community). CARICOM is a group of 15 Caribbean countries lying somewhere in between north and south America. PM met the leaders of these countries and extended support in their development by providing technical expertise and $ 14 Million aid to them. The importance of CARICOM lies in the fact that they behave as a single unit and vote together in all major international forums like the UN. It was a very important meeting considering these highly important 15 votes in UNGA.
AT THE UNGA
The main purpose of PM’s visit to the USA was attending the UNGA and his success and failure will be analysed mostly in this context. PM delivered two important speeches at the UN, one in the climate change summit and the other at the UNGA. He also dedicated a solar park as a gift to the United Nations Building in New York from India.
The PM delivered quite a statesmanlike speech in UNGA where he highlighted the work done by India in countering climate change which has emerged the single most important issue which the international community has to deal together irrespective of their national interests. He also touched upon the menace of terrorism without naming anyone specifically and entering into an argument. Advocated world peace and harmony as the way forward.
India also turned out to be quite successful at the UN regarding its current decision on J&K with only 4 of the 193 countries bringing this issue to the table. The two obvious ones were Pakistan and China and the others being Malaysia and Turkey. While Turkey got an instant reply with Modi pulling of bilaterals with Turkeys arch-rival neighbour Armenia and Cyprus where PM discussed ways to further strengthen the cooperation and recognise their sovereignty as few parts of these countries have been under Turkish occupation, Malaysia is expected to get a reply in the form of tariff hike on palm oil soon.
In what will be a clear sign to China the QUAD (U.S.A., India, Japan and Australia) since its inception had its first Ministerial level meeting. India from the very beginning has been the most reluctant member of QUAD, with always a soft corner for not upsetting China. China sees QUAD as a precursor to a military alliance between these countries in order to check the rise of the Chinese Navy in Indo- Pacific. In a clear escalation with the meeting of Foreign Ministers, both India and QUAD have communicated to China its disappointment with its policy. And since India was the one country which catered for Chinese reservation, the signal from India to China is also very clear that either the Chinese change their policy on J&K or they will face its consequences in the form further development and escalation of QUAD. And with India and Japan starting Malabar Exercise in the Pacific, which is a Naval Exercise comprising of USA, the red flag to China is clearly shown.
So, if we see, all in all, the U.S. visit of Mr Modi was quite a successful one in every aspect, leaving behind one which was the delay in trade deal between USA and India which both the countries promised to deliver soon.