India plans for Narendra Modi-Barrack Obama meeting in Washington!
-DR. ABDUL RUFF COLACHAL
According to reports available in the corridors of Indian power, India’s newly sworn in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who swept to power in a general election last month, will visit Washington to meet President Barack Obama in the last week of September. During his telephonic conversation with Obama, Modi has accepted an invitation from Obama for two-way talks in Washington. Obama had invited Modi to the USA when he called up the PM to congratulate him.
Premier Modi is scheduled to attend a UN general assembly meeting as Indian PM in September. The Obama –Modi meeting is being arranged on the sidelines of the UN meeting. Obama’s meeting with Modi signals a new start in ties with a leader once denied a visa by the United States.
Both countries are keen to boost security and economic ties as. India seeks to reinvigorate its ties with USA while not spoiling its traditional military relations with Russia.
As it is known, the Obama administration, seeking more finances from India to back up US economic meltdown, has set a goal of quintupling annual trade with India to $500 billion. But India’s economy is widely seen as having stagnated throughout the final years of Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh. With a nominal GDP of $1.85 trillion in 2013, according to the IMF, India is only the world’s tenth-largest economy, despite being the world’s second most populous. India’s GDP growth has since stalled, falling to just 4.4% in 2013.
India has also been blighted by rising levels of corruption, unemployment and inflation in recent times, with the rupee weakening against the US dollar (it has rebounded to 59 to the dollar since Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party won the election). In August 2013, Singh’s administration was forced to introduce limited capital controls to prevent the collapse of the rupee and avert a balance of payments crisis. Generally, his government had come to be seen as one that seemed to have run out of ideas.
It was therefore no surprise that the weakness of the Indian economy and poor governance resulting in rampant corruption, rising prices and unemployment and black money and black markets, etc, were the key themes of the election campaign.
Following his stunning election victory last week, India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is determined to inject some dynamism into the country’s economy. Seen as a neoliberal, Modi has set his sights on removing inefficiencies, tackling corruption and rolling out free-market policies that can weaken the already shaken poor of India. The flip side will be curbing welfare programs, as per the IMP plans as it is happening in Europe, making common people extremely vulnerable to price shocks.
Modi wants to cautiously open up the Indian economy to foreign investment to boost growth and job creation and ahs already announced a full 100% foreign investment in military goods production in India. His government may announce as soon as next month that it will allow foreign online retailers to sell their own products in India, creating a major business opportunity for big transnational players such as Amazon.
There are also concerns that Modi, who downplayed his Hindu nationalism during the campaign, may end up fanning the flames of religious hatred in India. In 2002, soon after he became Gujarat’s chief minister, he condoned the massacre of 1,000 Muslims in the anti-Muslim riots of that year. Modi denied complicity and was cleared of wrongdoing by several inquiries but was banned from entering the US (a ban that the administration of President Barack Obama’s lifted when Modi won the election). However, there is a risk that India’s relations with Muslim countries including Pakistan could become more strained, especially if there are any repeats of the 2002 episode.
In taking the decision, Modi has acted with alacrity and decisiveness on what many believe is going to be one of the biggest immediate challenges for India’s foreign policy. Modi regime is eager to take steps for mending India-US ties which had tapered off under UPA. Modi’s decision underlines the significance of the US in India’s strategic matrix. There was speculation that Modi could focus more on China and South Korea for economic gains and on an improved security partnership with Japan but these are not likely to come at the expense of Washington.
Modi, a former chief minister of Gujarat, had been refused a U.S. visa over sectarian strife in the state in 2002, in which more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed. He has denied any wrongdoing and an Indian Supreme Court inquiry found no case to answer. The US ambassador to India met Modi earlier this year, as opinion polls showed his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on course for an election victory. U.S. officials had said a visa and an invitation to meet would probably be forthcoming if Modi won.
Can Modi banish unemployment and instill some dynamism back into the economy? Goals of BJP include creating the 10 million new jobs that India needs every year just to absorb young people entering the workforce. It was a positive economic vision which captured the imagination of people.
Modi government wants to see the Modi-Obama summit as one of the foremost international events of the year overshadowing even Modi’s presence at UNGA, if he decides to go to New York too.
Significantly, according to Indian sources, the meeting won’t happen on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in New York but, as per Indian request, in the form of a full-fledged bilateral summit in Washington.
The two sides are finalizing the date for the meeting which will be in the last week of September. Scheduling of Modi visit has still to be finalized, but the summit would represent an upgrade from earlier expectations that Modi would meet Obama on the sidelines of the annual United Nations general assembly in New York.
However, no comment was immediately available from the Indian government press office or from the US embassy about the Modi visit to USA.
د. عبد راف
Unfortunately, today there is not even one Muslim nation practicing truly Islamic faith and life.
–BY DR. ABDUL RUFF COLACHAL has been an Educationist, Prolific writer, Commentator on world affairs Expert on Mideast Affairs, Former university Teacher; Editor:INTERNATIONAL OPINION; FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES; Author of books;
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