AA Edit | Modi’s visit takes India-US ties to an entirely new level

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

These warm ties appear so naturally aligned it is a mystery why they took so long to manifest

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers a toast during a State Dinner with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington on Thursday. (Image:PTI)

It takes two to tango. The eagle and the peacock, symbols of the oldest and the most populous democracies, may have become locked in a warm and embracing dance somewhat late, both pushed towards greater cooperation, teamwork and mutual understanding by the existing geopolitical currents amid fast-changing equations of a multipolar world. 

These warm ties appear so naturally aligned it is a mystery why they took so long to manifest.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States could be considered the most significant defining moment as the two countries go into a phase in which the friendship and the partnership is “stronger, closer and more dynamic than in history”.

The substantive points of confluence and aims stated for the journey forward, covering areas from the seas to the sky, are a testament to how the ties between two democracies have evolved in the time between 2008, when India signed the India-US civil nuclear deal, and now, and rapidly so seeing as peculiar pressures are being posed by the rise of China and its increasingly belligerent military posturing.

The sweeping range of subjects chosen to take forward cooperation, from sending an Indian astronaut to the International Space Station in 2024 to agreeing on a roadmap for defence co-production, highlighted by a landmark deal to collaboratively make fighter jet engines and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in India, besides technology transfer and secure semiconductor supply chains, point to the (Joe) Biden-Modi meeting becoming a seminal moment in India-US ties.

The symbolism of the high-profile happenings on three eventful days, beginning with the International Yoga Day and culminating in a grand dinner at the White House in which Indians and Indian-origin persons had as huge a presence as American tech czars, was not lost on the audience in India, as Prime Minister Modi was treated to a state visit of pomp and pageantry like none other in recent history. 

Nine years of visa denial and then a nine-year wait for a state visit with the ceremonial gun salute for Mr Modi might be a story in itself, but it pales when considering the impact of the nation’s Prime Minister and the US President taking the relationship far beyond personal bonhomie to a substantive win-win situation encompassing a diverse range of strategic, technological, industrial, social and education sectors.

All this is not going to come without a cost for India, now forced into seeking defence purchases, collaboration and co-production with sophisticated, and yet hugely more expensive, sources to move away from a near-total dependence on Russia which, after starting the war in Ukraine, will have less and less to offer on the front of military supplies.

India’s recent track record in treatment of minorities may have been the subject of media attention in the United States, but it was glossed over in a series of bear hugs, with commonality of interests and objectives trumping most other considerations. A relationship that was largely transactional, save for India becoming part of Quad, has given way to a more substantial alignment featuring a deeper security cooperation earlier marked only for allies.