Prime Minister Modi's Visit to the USA : A Comprehensive Overview and Highlights
This is the first official state visit of Mr. Modi to the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the USA marks a watershed event in the history of both nations. He has visited the USA six times after assuming the PM office in 2014, however, this is his first state visit to the country.
As stated by Mr. Arun K. Singh, the former Indian Ambassador in Washington DC, “This state visit will take the US- India bilateral ties to another level.”
The Itinerary of the US Visit
PM Modi landed for a three-day visit in New York on 20th June 2023. He was wholeheartedly and warmly welcomed by the Indian Diaspora at the Andrews Air Force Base.
The morning of 21st June witnessed Mr. Modi leading the global celebration of the 9th annual International Day of Yoga at the United Nations Headquarters. He quoted that “Yoga is a way of life. A holistic approach to health and well-being. A way to mindfulness in thoughts and actions. A way to live in harmony with self, with others, and with nature.” The day marked a world record representing the highest number of nationalities present in a single yoga session.
The following day, 22nd June, PM Modi traveled to Washington DC, where he received a ceremonial welcome at the White House. He met US President Joe Biden to carry on their high-level dialogue. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted an official state dinner in honor of PM Modi the same evening.
He, on the invitation of US Congressional Leaders, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the Senate Charles Schumer, addressed a joint session of the US Congress. He addressed the US Congress for the first time in 2016. PM Modi thus became the first Indian PM, and the third in the world to make such an address twice.
The day ended with another State Dinner in honor of PM Modi, which was attended by esteemed guests including the members of the US Congress, diplomats, and many celebrities, both from India and the USA.
On the third day of his visit, on June 23rd, PM Narendra Modi attended a luncheon hosted by US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blink. He interacted with CEOs and professionals to discuss business partnerships and opportunities.
The day concluded with an address to the Indian diaspora at the Ronald Reagan Center in the evening.
After this 3-day visit to the US, Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Egypt to meet President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for a bilateral dialogue to discuss trade cooperation and other important issues.
Agreements Signed on PM Modi’s Visit
There are several concrete gains from this State visit. The visit produced several discoveries related to defense, critical and emerging technologies, health, energy, and mobility.
General Electric (GE) and Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) have signed an agreement to jointly manufacture GE 414 Jet Engines for the indigenous Tejas Mk2 light fighter aircraft.
India announced cooperation in defense industry innovation through the acquisition of armed drones and the INDUS-X platform.
Micron Technology, Inc. has planned to invest in a new chip assembly and testing facility in Gujarat, supported by the Government of India and the state government of Gujarat.
The Space Partnership has joined India’s space research and has agreed to launch the International Space Station in 2024.
A pilot program to extend domestic visas for temporary workers based on petitions has been announced. The program aims to streamline the visa process and includes skilled visas such as H1b and L visas.
Two new US consulates are planned in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, while India will open a consulate in Seattle and announce new consulates elsewhere.
GE Aerospace has signed an agreement with HAL to manufacture fighter jet engines for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The deal includes joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India. GE’s involvement in the LCA program and cooperation in the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program were highlighted.
INDUS-X, the India-US Defense Acceleration Ecosystem, was launched to promote collaboration between Indian and US startups and technology companies.
The event featured 15 Indian startups and 10 US startups in fields such as maritime, AI, autonomous systems, and space. Opportunities for collaboration in high-tech innovation, particularly in space and AI, are highlighted.
Key Highlights of this year’s State Visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US is important to strengthen ties between the two countries.
The highlight of the visit was the Prime Minister’s meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Musk described the interview as “excellent” and announced plans to visit India in 2024, suggesting a possible collaboration between India and Tesla.
During his stay in New York, the Prime Minister had extensive meetings with prominent personalities. He met with writer and academic Professor Robert Thurman, writer, and statistician professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Nobel laureate Professor Paul Romer, American investor Ray Dalio and astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. These interactions focused on a variety of topics including resilience, risk, India’s response to COVID-19, and strengthening international cooperation.
Prime Minister Modi held discussions with President Joe Biden in Washington focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation and participation in multilateral forums such as the G20, the Quad, and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).
PM Modi met Ray Dalio, an esteemed American Investor, and invited him to invest in India. In his conversation with Mr. Dalio, the Prime Minister highlighted government reforms to promote economic growth, including reducing requirements and legalizing many legal provisions.
Prime Minister Modi met and interacted with leading American economist Prof. Paul Romer, founder of investor and hedge fund Bridgewater Associates Ray Dalio, and other prominent thought leaders and briefed on his government’s reforms to boost economic growth. The two discussed India’s digital journey, including the use of innovative tools such as Aadhar and Digilocker. The PM also discussed the various initiatives taken for urban development in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US First Lady Jill Biden visited the National Science Foundation. During the visit, the First Lady and the Prime Minister met and interacted with the students from the US and India,
The Prime Minister held extensive interviews with leading experts in the US healthcare industry. Various issues related to the healthcare sector were discussed, including the use of digital technology for quality healthcare, more emphasis on integrative medicine, and better healthcare preparation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed with a group of eminent US scientists from various fields of agriculture, marketing, engineering, healthcare, science, and technology in New York. Opportunities for developing research cooperation and bilateral academic exchange under India’s New Education Policy were discussed during the talk.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Essayist, and Professor of Statistics, and held bilateral discussions with Author and Academic Professor Robert Thurman, in New York.
The Salient Points will strengthen India in the long run
(The Economic and Geopolitical Take)
Showcasing India’s cultural and spiritual leadership: – The prime minister, who led 177 countries in practicing yoga on International Yoga Day at the United Nations, was a historic moment reminiscent of Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the World Congress of Religions in 1893. The concept embraces the country’s rich spiritual heritage, where various religious and philosophical beliefs coexist harmoniously and without discrimination within a democratic framework. The event not only showcased the physical and mental benefits of yoga but also showcased India’s commitment to promoting holistic well-being and inner harmony.
Rejecting toxic expressions and encouragement of Unity: – The Prime Minister effectively dispelled the dangerous rhetoric that democracy is under threat and that Muslims are not safe in India. In his speech in the Senate, he said that India has long been committed to democratic and inclusive values. His words received 15 standing ovations, even from people of different political ideologies. He highlighted the strength of India as a country that upholds the principles of democracy and promotes equality in diversity.
Enhanced and strengthened defense deals: – The most important economic achievement of this visit was the strategic defense and semiconductor manufacturing agreement signed between India and the United States. The defense partnership aims to strengthen India’s security infrastructure and foster stronger military ties with the United States. This cooperation reflects the growth of trust and mutual interest between the two countries in maintaining regional stability and addressing public security issues.
Reinforced contracts for semiconductor manufacturing: – The semiconductor manufacturing deal signals India’s emergence as a global manufacturing hub for advanced technology. By attracting investment and setting up semiconductor manufacturing units, India aims to reduce its dependence on imports and contribute to the global supply chain. These align with the Prime Minister’s vision to promote innovation and technological development in India, thereby increasing economic growth and job creation.
Moving beyond China and asserting regional dominance: – Increasing strategic engagement between India and the US reflects an ambition to reduce the regional influence of China and dominate the Indian Ocean. The joint approach between the two countries is aimed at ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, thus making India a key player in shaping the region’s future. India’s strategic location and growing economic and military capabilities make it an important partner for the US in keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open. Its focus on regional cooperation and security parallels the East India Act policy.
Standing India- US Bilateral Tie-ups
Trade and Economy:
The US has emerged as India’s largest trading partner by 2022-23 due to growing economic ties between the two countries.
In 2022-23, bilateral trade between India and the US is at a record. In the financial year 2020-21, India received the highest FDI.
The US is the second largest source of FDI as of now and is one of the top 5 investment destinations for FDI.
Defense cooperation portfolio:
The India-US defense partnership is based on the New Framework for India-US Defense Partnership, which was renewed in 2015 for ten years.
In 2016, the defense relationship was designated as a Major Defense Partnership (MDP) to make it comprehensive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial.
In July 2018, India was upgraded to Tier 1 of the US Department of Commerce’s Strategic Trade Authorization Framework.
In August 2022, the United States Navy Ship (USNS) Charles Drew arrived in Chennai for repairs and allied services. This is the first time a US Navy ship has been repaired in India.
Several defense agreements have been signed between the two nations:
Logistics Exchange Association Memorandum (2016);
Communication Interoperability and Safety Security (2018);
Industrial Security Agreement (2019);
Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (2020).
Many major Bilateral Training exercises have been included:
Yudh Abhyas (Army);
Vajra Prahar (Special Forces),
tri- service training exercise- Tiger Triumph (opened in 2019).
In January 2022, the Australian Navy participated in the annual US-India-Japan naval exercise MALABAR. The United States is participating in India’s Milan 2022 multilateral training.
Space and Science and Technological Cooperation:
ISRO and NASA are working together to develop a microwave remote sensing satellite for Earth observation called the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR).
ISRO benefited from NASA/JPL Deep Space System antenna support for Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), and Chandrayaan-2.
Both parties are now exploring the possibility of getting the same support for the Chandrayaan-3 satellite.
In the commercial market, ISRO has flown more than 200 satellites, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), from the US as a passenger.
NSA Ajit Doval and his US counterpart Jake Sullivan launched the new US-India Critical and Emerging Technologies Initiative in January 2023.
These emerging technologies include artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors, and wireless telecommunications.
The Way Forward
Geopolitical rivalry with China has opened India and the US to a strategic embrace that was widely displayed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington. While the US needs India for global geopolitics, India wants the US for regional geopolitics.
U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti remarked, “I think this visit will go down in history as the turning of a page and the starting of a bold new chapter in America and India relations. It is the culmination of years and even decades of work,” in an interview.
“It will deepen the strategic partnership between Indian and American universities,” India’s Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan commented via Twitter on 23 June.
The growing partnership between India and the U.S. also gives room for the two nations to adopt specific strategies and push more technology companies to set up operations in India. Private sectors in the U.S. could also start making more significant investments in India, with the two countries set to work together. There is a change in attitude of the US towards India and defense will benefit from it. What it projects, India is trying to reduce its dependence on Russia and this shall be a remarkable step.
General Trivia: The idea of celebrating International Yoga Day was first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2014. The theme of this year’s yoga day is ‘Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which is Yoga for the well-being of all in the form of ‘One World One Family’ which represents the spirit of yoga that unites and brings everything together.
Disclaimer: The above article is based on the information from the following sources- The Hindu, The Indian Express and The Wire.
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