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The red carpet is being rolled out for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the United States


Amidst global economic and geopolitical headwinds, the visit to the United States by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken on enormous significance.

Since Mr. Modi is paying a state visit to the United States, the White House is going all out to make him feel at home. On Thursday, the White House will host a formal welcoming ceremony for Mr. Modi before he meets with Vice President Joe Biden.

The highlights of Mr. Modi’s previous US visits have been the state banquet, meetings with CEOs, an address to a joint session of Congress, and speeches to Indian-Americans.

The United States now views Mr. Modi as a critical partner, which is quite the turnaround for a leader who was once denied a visa to go to the country due to concerns over human rights.

The carefully orchestrated rituals mask discussions with the potential to change the world order and revitalize India-US relations.

The United States may need India’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region more than any other region at the moment. The United States has always seen India as a check on China’s expanding power in the area, but India’s capital, Delhi, has never been quite at ease with that label.

China remains one of the primary catalysts pushing India-US ties, despite its continued reluctance to play a more active role.

The Quad summit revolves around China.

However, India has not been afraid to make choices that have angered China. The state of Uttarakhand, which borders China in the Himalayas, hosted a joint military exercise with the United States in 2016. Despite negative reactions from Beijing, Delhi has kept up its active membership in the Quad (together with the US, Australia, and Japan).

Indian diplomats have been increasingly vocal about how now is India’s time to shine internationally. There’s excellent reason for this: the Indian economy is currently one of the few global success stories.India has a large market and a growing middle class, and geopolitical factors favor the country as a manufacturing option to China. Because of this, it is a viable alternative for nations and multinational corporations that are adopting a “China plus one” approach.

Could India take China’s place as the world’s manufacturing hub?
What matters to the United States is not what India says publicly about China, according to Tanvi Madan, director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

She concluded that “whether or not India has publicly embraced the tag,” the US relationship has been considered as advantageous by Indian governments in dealing with China.

The two nations are “seeing eye to eye on the broader Indo-Pacific theatre,” according to Michael Kugelman, head of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington.

The United States is finally beginning to understand the significance of the western parts of the Indian Ocean. For a long time, the area around the Indian Ocean was India’s top priority, and with good reason. However, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean were American territory. Now they’re going to look into regional marine security,” he said.

Even if China isn’t mentioned by name in the joint statement, the issue will certainly come up when the two presidents debate how to strengthen their alliance in the Indo-Pacific.

While both countries might agree on China, their responses to the conflict in Ukraine could hardly be more different.

Analysts believe that Delhi’s lack of criticism of Russia stems from the country’s “time-tested ties” with Moscow and its reliance on Russian defense supplies.

In terms of defense, Russia is India’s primary supplier, but this isn’t the only reason for the country’s reliance on Moscow. India has always been confident in its non-alignment policy, or strategic autonomy as it is now known. At first, Washington diplomats were annoyed by the country’s insistence on not being pinned down to any one power center in the international order.

However, the United States has relaxed its attitude in recent months, going so far as to ignore India’s ongoing imports of crude oil from Russia.

Cheaper Russian oil is in high demand from India.

Bank reports dramatic increase in oil purchases from Russia by India.

India has also made progress by openly demanding a halt to hostilities.

Ms. Madan emphasized that the divergent reactions to the invasion did not spell the end of diplomatic ties between India and the United States.

Strategic convergence creates incentives for two countries to work through their differences. Not necessarily get rid of them, but learn to live with their peculiarities. With their divergent views on Russia, I think that has happened,” she added.

Meanwhile, we’ll be talking a lot about technology, defense, and the management of global supply chains.

A document called the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology was signed between the two governments. The agreement would facilitate collaboration between US and Indian institutions in the fields of information technology, space exploration, defense, AI, education, and healthcare.

More technological cooperation could be announced by the leaders, particularly in China’s dominant semi-conductor manufacturing sector.

The field of defense has also been an important area of agreement.

The data analyzed between 2017 and 2022 indicates that India is the largest importer of guns in the world, with 45% coming from Russia. The headline here is that until 2016, Moscow owned 65%; this is where the United States saw an opening.

The silence of India over Russia’s treatment of Ukraine

While Washington’s percentage has increased, it is still only 11%, well below France’s at 29%. As a result, there will inevitably be some massive defense deals announced, such as India’s acquisition of the tried-and-true MQ-9A “Reaper” drones and a partnership between GE and Indian state-run enterprises to produce fighter jet engines in India.

Defense cooperation, Mr. Kugelman says, “has come a long way” between the two countries.

Based on past performance, “one could argue that the treatment the US gives India is not dissimilar from what it gives to many of its allies,” he said.

Big announcements are predicted in the areas of defense and technology, but in trade, this is not the case.

The United States has surpassed China as India’s largest commercial partner, with a total of $130 billion in 2017. Tariffs and export regulations have been a major source of tension between the two countries.India has FTAs in place with Australia and Dubai and is in talks for FTAs with additional countries, such as the EU, Canada, and the United Kingdom.However, the leaders may discuss or at least establish the groundwork for resolving trade-related concerns in the future, even if no deal is reached during this visit.

Mr. Kugelman emphasized that the disagreements were not forgotten but rather placed aside so that the two sides could focus on areas where they might work together more fruitfully.

However, he emphasized that despite tensions between governments, business between India and the United States has been booming in recent years.

Even if trade isn’t their top concern, the global supply chain challenges brought up by the epidemic and China’s monopoly will be discussed by the two leaders.

The issue of commerce used to cause tension between the two countries, but I believe that attitudes have changed. Ms. Madan said that the topic of trade had to be brought up in any discussion of global supply chain problems.

Both countries will be holding elections in 2019, making this visit all the more intriguing as both leaders will be seeking for headlines that will play well at home.

As a result, a few massive transactions will occur. The United States and India have never had simple ties; instead, they have always been fraught with suspicion, rebuilt trust, and periodic flare-ups.

Despite criticism of India’s human rights record under Mr. Modi, Mr. Biden is committed to improving ties between his country and India.

Seventy-five Democratic members of Congress wrote to Vice President Biden on the eve of the trip, urging him to bring up human rights concerns. They voiced alarm over growing religious intolerance, press restrictions, narrowing political freedom, and the persecution of civil society organizations in India. During Mr. Modi’s visit, protests are planned by human rights groups.

We realize that India and the United States are enormous, complicated countries,” said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently, in a comment that aptly reflected the present state of affairs between the two countries. Unlocking the full potential of our people requires us to improve transparency, expand access to markets, fortify democracies, and so on. The future of this cooperation, though, is clear and bright.

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