Modi’s visit and Trump’s assurances

Arun Srivastava

Whether the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to America and his talks with US President Donald Trump are an important page in the history of collaboration and cooperation between the two countries is not yet clear and lies in the womb of the future, but one thing is explicit that India has committed itself to protect US interests and become an active partner of the US global strategy.
Modi’s visit has done more favour to USA than espousing the cause of India. Trump is not known to nurse a soft corner for India, but astonishingly he tried to create the impression that he was concerned of India and its security. Though he told Modi that during his election campaign he had pledged that, if elected, India would have a true friend in the White House, his speech lacked conviction and was far from true. If he really treated himself as the friend of India, he would not have humiliated India on the issue of Paris agreement wherein he said that India was supporting the deal only for money.
The polling also shows that the low level of support for the president is leading to a decline in support for wider American values. For the first time in Pew research history, most Canadians no longer regard America as a force for good in the world. Just 43 percent of Canadians have a positive view of their neighbour.
Trump has merely been concerned of the welfare of the American companies. In fact, he asked Modi to remove the barriers in the path of the American companies, so that they can export goods into Indian markets and reduce their trade deficit. This is something audacious. While he did not clarify the US position about H1B visa, he was happy that Indian Airlines has placed order for 100 new American planes, one of the largest orders of its kind, which will support thousands of American jobs.  He is also planning to enter into a contract for the sale American natural gas, incidentally the proposal is right now under negotiation.
As if this is not enough, Trump is desperately trying to involve India in the North Korean crisis. Trump said: “I also thank the Indian people for joining us in applying new sanctions against the North Korean regime.” North Korea is a new entrant into the Indo-US joint statement, in keeping with Trump’s sharp focus on curbing DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear and ballistic belligerence. The leaders pledged to work together to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction programmes; this is India’s strongest statement on the subject. Pakistan has helped the DPRK develop its nuclear capability and the Trump administration wants China to increase pressure on its neighbour to mend its behavior.
The joint statement said the leaders supported “bolstering regional economic connectivity through the transparent development of infrastructure and the use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment,” which echoes India’s position on China-led Belt and Road initiative.
Since taking office, Modi’s government has done more to tie India’s coattails to the US political establishment than any other in India’s past. This includes signing a defence logistics agreement and entering international conventions to help allow US firms the possibility of investing in India’s nuclear market.
No doubt, global cooperation amongst the counties is essential for development and growth. But the observation of Modi, “I am very clear about the fact that India's interests lie in a strong, and prosperous, and successful America” is really intriguing. It is beyond comprehension why India should tag with US and be reliant on America. Modi said, “I am sure that the convergence between my vision for a "new India and President Trump's vision for "making America great again" will add new dimensions to our cooperation’. But an ordinary Indian would certainly like to know what the point of convergence is. It is merely utopian to think that India has any correlation with Trump’s concept.
The strengthening of India’s defence capabilities, with the help of USA, is something that has been a highly debated issue. Much against the desire of the experts and countrymen, the Modi government entered into logistic deal with America and provided space to its army. The Indian rulers have also decided to enhance maritime security cooperation between the two nations. While India has opened up its market and door to the US entry, it is sad that America has not even bothered to facilitate India’s entry into the NSG. While its allies opposed, Obama looked other way.  America never supported India’s membership of international institutions and regimes.
The Trump administration says it wants to provide India with improved defence technology. The State Department on Monday approved the $365 million sale of a C-17 military transport aircraft to India. The administration is also set to offer a $2 billion sale of US-made unarmed drones to help in surveillance of the Indian Ocean.
Nevertheless, the joint statement of 2017 continues previous references to “a growing strategic convergence” bolstered by military, maritime and intelligence cooperation. In addition, while India has yet to commit to buying Predator drones, a sale of 22 Guardian drones was cleared by the US Cabinet last week. Trump said he was “pleased” that India buys US defence products.
Last year’s statement had the same wording when it came to “strengthening cooperation against terrorist threats from extremist groups, such as Al-Qa’ida, Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and their affiliates. Virtually there is no change in the word and narrative. It points to the American attitude and approach towards India. The leaders called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. They further called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups. (IPA)

Monday, 3 July, 2017