India in the US


Curiously, the US is set to have a high-profile visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month. It comes close on the heels of the current visit of India’s principal opposition figure Rahul Gandhi to the US. While feelings are that Rahul Gandhi went overboard in his criticism of the Modi government all through his present foreign jaunt, what came in response from the White House was a virtual snub – with a stress that, unlike what Rahul Gandhi chose to paint, India “is a vibrant democracy.” White House coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby, in an interaction with the media, affirmed that India remains a free country and that the evidence of which can be seen and felt by all those who visited Delhi from abroad. Overall, it was perhaps inadvisable for Rahul Gandhi to have aired negative thoughts while on foreign soil. Arguments are that such tongue-lashes have tarnished the image of the nation.
Rahul Gandhi retains the right to criticise the Modi government and sharply too while in India. When he is in the US, he represents India and it is incumbent on him to present a good picture of his nation. The negatives can wait. Some of what he stated, like “Prime Minister Narendra Modi runs the nation by looking at the rear-view mirror” – meaning his obsession is more with the past, not the present or the future – may have grains of truth; as is likely evident from his Mann Ki Baat as well, which delves more into India’s past with little reference to the present state of affairs of the nation. Modi could talk about today’s India from a vantage point. Yet, that has not been the case in much of his talks.
The Prime Minister would be in the US from June 22 and this would be an occasion to strengthen ties between the two nations. To his credit, Modi maintained good relations with the US and the rest of the world, though, his attempts to court the Pakistani leadership failed via the much-publicized Lahore visit to greet then prime minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday. India’s ties with the US have been strong ever since the time of Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh, two Congress prime ministers, who extricated India from the socialist mindset of Jawaharlal Nehru. The US has been of help to India at international forums like the UN, though the two sides hold different views vis-à-vis issues like Pakistan. It is time to take India’s friendship with the US forward, also as its significance in the context of the Chinese machinations against this country cannot be under-estimated. Such threat potentials are for real.