Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a path breaking visit to US, which has attracted the attention of not only strategic community world over but also the leading business tycoons, who now look upon India as a land of opportunities. After visiting Tokyo and inviting Chinese President to India this month, Prime Ministers visit to New York and Washignton is being looked as a game changer for India in world politics which will raise the profile of the country both in strategic and economic arena. This will be another opportunity for Mr Narendra Modi to show case before the international audience, his vision of a vibrant India, living in peace, prosperity and friendship with neighbors and international community as a responsible partner state. Though the focus of Modi’s visit to US is principally on the White House meetings with President Barrack Obama on 29th and 30th September, Mr Modi will have intense engagement of long term significance with India’s neighboring leaders of Bangla Desh, Nepal and Sri Lanka in New York. In New York Modi will be the cynosure of all eyes in United Nations Headquarters, when he addresses the UN General Assembly and propounds his vision of an India becoming an economic powerhouse in the coming years and generate hopes for the developed countries to take advantage from India’s evolution as the biggest market. India’s possible emergence as a big and a thriving market and as an alternative to China has been acting as a magnet for the powerful who’s who of the world. Modi’s visit to US thus will be critical in defining the directions of the relations with world powers in the coming years.
Prime Minister’s presence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 26th to 29th September, would be an affirmation of India’s abiding commitment to multilateralism,where he is expected to outline his approach to the post-2015 development agenda, which is an extension of the Millenium Development Goals. In the United Nations Prime Minister would also be raising the core issue of the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council including India’s permanent membership of an expanded security council. The Prime Minister will be making renewed effort to push India’s case for the permanent membership.
In New York and Washington Prime Minister Modi would have a total of 35 engagements, with world political and business leaders which are aimed at catapulting India in a new league of world powers both in the economic and strategic arena. The meeting with President Obama will help remove the cobwebs which has accumulated in recent years in Indo-US bilateral relations. Besides top political level meetings in Washington, there will be large amount of interactions with the business community, with the civil society, with the Governor of US States and US cities as well as the very vibrant and large Indian community in the United States. Besides Barrack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry, the top political leadership would also include the former US President Bill Clinton, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian American South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Modi will also be hosted for tea by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Joe Boehner and more than 50 lawmakers.
The major themes of these interactions would cover the entire expanse of India’s relations with the US which will focus mainly on trade and investment, energy, science and technology, defence relations, maritime security and possible areas of cooperation between India and US with third countries.
Among the focus areas would be the implementation of the nuclear cooperation treaty that India and USA signed in 2008. The main grouse of the US administration is that India has put roadblocks in its implementation by promulgating Nuclear Liability Law in 2011 which strongly discourages the US nuclear equipment manufacturures and the nuclear power companies to supply and set up nuclear power production facilities in India. Since the present ruling party led by Bhartiya Janata Party was the principal backer of the move to put heavy financial preconditions in the nuclear liability laws, it will be difficult for the Prime Minister Modi to convince the US administration and the heads of the two nuclear power companies that the law will not be an impediment in its execution. The proposed meeting of the Chairman of General Electric, USA the nuclear power company, with Prime Minister Modi in New York would be an occasion to clarify, India’s view point, otherwise the GE would not like to engage with India in the nuclear power sector. The US side is insisting on a liberal Nuclear Liability Law, because they sense over US$ 100 billion investment in the nuclear power sector. India is in urgent need of augmenting its power supply to its fast growing economy. The GE and the Westinghouse has been allotted two sites in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, where two nuclear parks encompassing six nuclear reactors each are envisaged.
In the defence sector a few defence deals around US$ 4-5 billion has been cleared but final agreement has not been inked. The deal pertains mainly to the Apache Helicopters, Chinook Attack Helicopters and the Javeline missiles. India wants a joint development and production agreement for the Javeline anti tank missiles but technology transfer issues are preventing the forward movement. US sees these defence deals as low hanging fruits and should be cleared immediately while the US administration wants serious rethinking on the Indian Nuclear Liability Law. In fact the US administration is focusing on the Nuclear law as a priority area, which when cleared will pave the way for over US$ fifty dollars in the next few years. India has said that Modi’s visit to US is deep desire to build on the growing convergences in India-US ties. In view of fast changing geopolitics, Modi’s interactions with the world leaders would be keenly watched.