Modi's visit to USA a Successful One ?
Oct 8, 2014

Every head of nation or state, prior to their return from an official foreign tour, usually  claims , “I had a very successful tour”. Without exception, Modi also told this to an audience at his last stop and said, “Thank you, America.”
Modi may be right or wrong about his assumption of a successful tour,” but it is not a bad idea to review some of the high points of his visit. 

Question # 1

Was it mission accomplished for Narendra Modi ? 

Let us review it with the help of some quotes :

Vivek Wadhwa, a Silicon Valley bomb-thrower, came to DC somewhat leery of the hype around Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I was blown away by Modi's humour and confidence,” Wadhwa said after the state department luncheon hosted by Joe Biden and John Kerry for the Prime Minister.

Pete Sessions, chairman, house ethics committee, was absolutely charmed. He said Modi reminded him of President Ronald Reagan, the nearest thing to God for Republicans.

“No,” said Michael Kugleman of Wilson Center, “But we shouldn't have expected any. For Obama and Modi, the visit was all about the basics: getting to know each other, committing to get the relationship back on track, and promising to push toward even greater co-operation.”

A member of a think-tank differed, “In terms of optics it was a huge success, but are we to overlook the absence of deliverables—packages?” He said he would hold his verdict for now.  “Instead, he accepted it and took full advantage of his time in Washington. This is a strong signal of his intention to move beyond the past and to get this relationship back on track,” he added.

And that looks like mission accomplished!

Question # 2

Did Narendra Modi tap the Indian diaspora in US? 

The New York Rock show is over, it's time to see action in India.

Narendra Modi's Madison Square Garden address to overseas Indians was more of a rockstar concert than a Prime Minister's speech. He had delirious fans cheering, clapping, and chanting "Modi, Modi, Modi!" He plucked their heartstrings, praising them lavishly for raising India's global image, and promised that India would become a stunning success that would make them proud. This was not an occasion for policy announcements, but for celebrations with fans that had backed him in his darkest days. It was a rally of the faithful, an outpouring of mutual admiration.

Modi's future will rest on his skills as a doer, not as an orator. 

Modi has a mission back home.  Mars Mission cost just Rs 7/km, whereas an auto-rickshaw ride in Ahmedabad costs Rs 10/km. The audience roared its appreciation. But why is India more successful in outer space than at home? Why can India slash the cost of space missions but not of food at home, resulting in the highest, most persistent inflation in any major nation?  

In a more than one-hour-long speech, Modi asked them to participate in India's development, saying their contribution was part of his vision for a “people's movement for development” modeled, he said, on Mahatma Gandhi's mass movement for freedom from British rule.   Modi is hoping to tap the diaspora to propel his economic agenda.  

“Modi can set India on a completely new path and truly bring India into the 21st   century," said Pradeep Khosla, the Indian-American Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, who moved to the US over three decades ago.

Question # 3

Is Narendra Modi’s US trip high on optics, low on substance?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s five-day visit to the United States saw the two countries affirm ties with extensive diplomatic words and pageantry, but largely failed to resolve vexing trade and investment issues or deliver any big-ticket measures to elevate relations.

Coming on the back of his successful engagements with the heads of Japan and China, with whom he sealed tens of billions of dollars in investment pledges, Modi’s trip to the United States had raised hopes that he would deliver a new cornerstone in bilateral ties which have drifted over the past few years.

The trip, however, did witness a dramatic turnaround from a time when he was denied a US visa for almost a decade, helping him correct the negative image with American policy makers as well as business leaders he will now count on to bring investments to India. 

Question #4

Did he build blocks in place to call Modi's US visit a success? 

Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, sold himself as a onetime tea vendor who wanted to lift India to glory by cleaning up the country, clearing the way for business, and preparing its young citizens to be the work force of an aging world. Modi addressed a wildly enthusiastic audience that was largely made up of Indian-Americans, and played skillfully to their sentiments. He reminded the crowd of the taunts they had heard for years that India was a land of snake charmers, and he offered lavish praise for their success in the United States.

His remarks were directed equally at the folks back home, where Modi won a sweeping electoral victory in May, and at American officials and investors he is wooing. 

In an hour-long speech that was signature Modi, complete with rhetorical flourishes, soaring arms, and a good deal of snarkiness, the Prime Minister made fun of those who say he lacks ‘big vision’. “I tell them, “My friends, I came here selling tea,”, he said,” and paused, as the audience leapt to its feet and clapped. “I’m a small man. My mind is busy doing small things,” he went on. 

Modi spoke to 700 Indian-Americans at a dinner at the Pierre Hotel. He said he did not need their dollars; he wanted every Indian-American to send five non-Indian friends to visit the country. Tourism, he said, can generate income for cabbies, auto-rickshaw drivers — even tea sellers.

Modi is keen to attract business deals that will create jobs in India, one of his main campaign promises in a nation where every month a million people turn 18 and join the labour force. On their part, American officials and executives want Modi to remove many of the obstacles that foreign companies face in doing business in India.

Stephen Ezell of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said that Modi seemed to be the most business-friendly Prime Minister in India’s recent history, but that he had yet to take action on matters like trade policy and taxes. “If he is truly going to deliver on that vision, then he is going to have to make some very difficult decisions,”. Ezell added.

Modi received resounding applause for a promise to clear away red tape facing new businesses.

R Nicholas Burns, who was a top State Department official in the administration of George W Bush, put the question this way: “Can we reset, reboot, revive — use your word — this relationship? We have to.”
Narendra Modi-Barack Obama meet: Key takeaways
In a rare gesture, President Obama joined Modi in paying homage at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. Both the leaders took a round of the Memorial and Obama was seen explaining significance of the site to Modi.

The visit was significant given the success achieved by both sides in bringing the strategic partnership between India and the US back on track.

Key points:

In a joint vision statement and a joint op-ed in the Washington Post, Modi and Obama vowed to "Chalein saath saath - together we go forward" with a new agenda to realize the full potential of a renewed US-India partnership for the 21st century.

Both sides agreed to make “joint and concerted efforts” to dismantle safe havens for terror and criminal networks like LeT, JeM, D-company, Al Qaeda, and Haqqani Network. The two countries will take steps to disrupt financial and tactical support to these terror outfits.

A US-India joint statement issued after Tuesday's summit at the White House that lasted nearly two hours listed what some critics called a 'laundry list' of things they can do together in fields ranging from health and education to space exploration. But the real significance of the trip lay in the fact that it put the India-US partnership back on the rails. And more importantly, Modi secured a commitment from Obama to make joint and concerted efforts to dismantle terrorist safe havens.

No breakthrough on the civil nuclear deal, stalled over India's tough liability laws. Modi said, “We are serious about resolution of issues on both sides to enable civilian nuclear energy cooperation to take off. It is important for India's energy security." An inter-agency contact group will be set up to address the issues of liability, administrative, and technical issues. From the Indian side, agencies like DAE, MEA, and Finance Ministry will be involved.

Obama said India meets the standards of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and is "now ready" for the membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-member body which controls global nuclear trade.

Agreement on extending their defence agreement for another 10 years which is expected to give a big boost to co-operation in this key area between the two countries. Modi invited US companies to participate in defence manufacturing sector in India, which has recently raised the FDI cap from 26 to 49 per cent.

Commitment to facilitate the actions necessary to increase bilateral trade five-fold from the current $100 billion. The proposed steps include establishing an Indo-US Investment Initiative, an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform. India will welcome two trade missions in 2015 focused on meeting India's infrastructure needs with US technology and services.

Obama and Modi had a candid discussion about WTO issues. "India supports trade facilitation but it is my wish that a solution should take care of our food security concerns. I am sure that it is possible to do that early," Modi said. "I am looking forward to building up on the relationship and make more progress," he added.

US reaffirmed support for India's membership of the expanded UN Security Council and backed it for "voice and vote" in international financial institutions like IMF and World Bank.

The US will be the lead partner in developing Allahabad, Ajmer, and Vishakapatnam as 'Smart Cities'.

The countries will also cooperate in the Mars Mission.

Some Hurts, Some Opposition, and Some Skeptic Views 

Not everyone was impressed. Outside the arena, a small group of protesters held banners denouncing Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 when sectarian rioting racked the state. He could not get a visa to visit the United States for nearly 10 years because of accusations that he had done too little to stop the violence.

Rekha Malhotra, 43, a popular disc jockey who was among the protesters, said she had turned down passes that she had been offered to see Modi speak. “I said thanks, but no thanks — I’ll be outside,” she explained. 
Sherry Hundal, 46, said she had come from Denville, NJ, to raise her voice against the Prime Minister. “I’m glad to be on the right side of history,” she said.

The Prime Minister's Hindu nationalist credentials have made him an unpopular figure among some Indian-Americans who see him as a religious strongman and a threat to India's multiculturalism.

Protesters outside Madison Square Garden said they wanted to draw attention to the Hindu nationalist groups that back Modi's party and their fundamentalist agenda.

"We want to make sure everyone knows that those celebrating Modi do not represent the entire Indian-American community," said Shaik Ubaid, a 52-year-old neurologist who is part of a group called the Alliance for Justice and Accountability.

Congress party spokesperson Anand Sharma. refusing to give any importance to the rapturous gathering during the Prime Minister's address at Madison Square Garden and elsewhere outside the venues of his address in the US, said, "There were many cheerleaders".

Seeking to compare it with Modi's address at the UN General Assembly, the Congress spokesperson claimed that "two-third of the Assembly hall was empty when the Indian Prime Minister was speaking. This small gathering should be a matter of concern."

He also said all Indian Prime Ministers, who went to the US were given the honour of addressing the joint session of US Congress but "Modi was not given this honour" asking why.  Sharma said the visit was not so impressive as was projected and quoted BJP patriarch L K Advani to conclude that Modi is a very good ‘event manager’. 

Generous Views: 

Vivek Pai, who lives in New York, has family from Bangalore, Karnataka.

“Today, thanks to the political expressions of 550 million Indians in the largest democratic electoral exercise in human history, the US is being forced to eat humble pie and welcome Modi as the leader of India. The greatest military and economic power on Earth had to bow to the democratic wishes of a half billion people. That represents the greatest triumph of democratic ideals during our times.”

 Sheetal Ranjan, who lives in Teaneck, NJ, has family in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, said “It means that the US now looks at India as a pivotal strategic partner in the world. And I am glad to be living in a nation where my origins are of value.”

 Asokan Vengassery Krishnan, who lives in Philadelphia, has links to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

“The Modi visit is expected to strengthen the ties between the most powerful and the largest democratic nations. It will also be sweet revenge for Modi who was long being treated as a pariah by the US. In turn, it is also the victory of the Indian identity and might in a post-colonial, post-Cold War era. Modi will prove that India has a dignified role to play in the new world order,” he said.

Finally, as you all are aware, I myself did not accompany the PM during his USA visit . My article is entirely built surrounding different sources of news. Hence, I wind up this write-up in the words of Wifred J Lewis, Matpady-Brahmavar/ New York City, USA, written on Thursday October 2, 2014. Lewis is from our own region. Many a time we should not depend upon biased news against our PM. I totally agree with Lewis whose observation is the right source straight from the heart, is prudent, upright, and honest in his declaration. Thanks Lewis. Your below views inspired me today to pen down this article. 

“I observed; followed the Prime Minister’s tour of USA. This trip has been a great success, beneficial to both India and USA, and more important is, it is helpful to world peace. 

These weeks New York City-the UNO city has numerous visitors, leaders from all over the world as the annual UN General Assembly is in session. Still, Modi got high profile positive recognition as he is a leader of the largest, peaceful, functioning secular democracy of the world—a leader with a huge mandate. Narendra Modi is a recognized name all over the USA.”