AA Edit | Modi's trip to US set to be a historic benchmark

Besides the American agenda, Mr Modi will also engage with the Indian community

Since the Cold War ended, India’s relationship with the United States has improved, strengthened, transformed and turned into a strategic partnership, a coming together of the oldest and largest democracies for the world’s good, and theirs; and the impending maiden state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington is all set to be a historic highpoint, a new scaling, the acme, a watermark.

The highest form of diplomatic visit between two countries comes for Mr Modi — whose request for a working visa for a trip to the US was rejected when he was chief minister of Gujarat — after he finishes nine years in office as Prime Minister. This visit will, among other ceremonies, include a 21-gun salute welcome at the White House, a stay at Blair House, the official guesthouse of the US President located across Pennsylvania Avenue, and a diplomatic exchange of gifts.

Mr Modi, who will also be a personal guest at the Joe Biden family residence before the state visit commences, will be bearing the message of friendship and an intent to expand the scope of the bilateral relationship between the two nations, besides trying to create common resolve to augment work for larger global good.

It has been a long journey of success for both the Prime Minister at a personal level, and India at the national level; once relegated to being a Soviet partner on the wrong side of the Cold War, India and the US today are strategic partners linked along the four other Ps of sustainable development — people, planet, prosperity and peace.

From people-to-people contacts, businesses and investments, shared military exercises, role in multilateral bodies like the Quad or G-20, besides the United Nations, and offering critical support to each other during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indo-US relationship has been strengthened with the unified focus of all parties and former Prime Ministers, from P.V. Narasimha Rao to Atal Behari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh. Neither India nor the United States are tied down by the partisan views of the BJP, the Congress, the Democrats or the Republicans.

Besides the American agenda, Mr Modi will also engage with the Indian community and these meetings would acquire festive halo, with a Modi thali launched in a New Jersey restaurant ahead of the visit.

While the honour of a state visit was accorded the last time to Dr Singh, Mr Modi will have a different sense of inspiration for this visit. In his mind will weigh the inspirational visit of Swami Vivekananda to the Parliament of Religions in Chicago well over a century ago, where the philosopher spoke of a connect on a civilisational level. Mr Modi, too, will engage with America not just as a representative of a democracy celebrating 75 years of independence but one hailing from a millennia-old culture and civilisational entity.

There are small concerns and niggles, of course, as in all broad-based and multi-level relationships, but the visit will set the agenda for the future in a big way, where America and India together need to power each other, and pave the way for greater democracy, rule of law, higher regard for the rights of man, and a greener and safer Planet Earth.

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