December 9, 2022

Modi in US: China Factor in India’s Quad Strategy


In a strategic move to counter China’s dominance in Asia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US from June 25-27. The visit was as much about geopolitics as it was about economics and business opportunities for India. In his three-city tour of Washington DC, New York City and San Jose, Modi met with several high profile leaders including President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday morning.

Modi has been criticised by some for not meeting any Chinese leader or visiting Beijing during his trip to America but he made sure that there were no mixed signals sent out to China – even if it meant offending an old friend like Russia.

In a speech delivered at Stanford University on Sunday night, Modi said “India cannot have prosperity without peace, and we will pursue a policy of restraint in the use of our military might. It is important to remember that very few people who talk about nonviolent resolutions actually mean what they say.”

Take these words with you Mr Putin (Xinhua)

Modi’s reference was clearly aimed at China, which has been involved in several territorial disputes with several of its smaller neighbours. India, which has long-running border disputes with China and has been at loggerheads over the issue of Tibet in recent times, is hoping to get US support in its quest for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Modi, who was received at the White House on Monday morning by Obama, had earlier said that his talks with the US president would be wide-ranging. Modi was seen off at the airport by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Modi will meet Silicon Valley business honchos in San Jose, California on Sunday.

After inauguration in September last year, Modi has become the first Indian prime minister to visit US twice in one year which illustrates India’s importance despite several recent diplomatic faux pas. The US is currently India’s second largest trading partner after China while for the US it is third behind China and Japan . Trade between the two countries increased from $84 billion in 2009 to $107 billion in 2013.

Modi’s visit will be followed by Defense Minister Manohar Parikkar later this month, who is expected to ink some defense deals with the US.

While relations between New Delhi and Washington have blossomed since Obama’s second term began last year, there are serious differences between India and America. Modi’s government has been trying to woo back Washington after a recent row erupted over the arrest and strip-search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York on charges of visa fraud.

While India wants America to support its right for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Washington says it remains neutral as it believes that the issue should be resolved through negotiations between the existing permanent members of the UN Security Council and India.

Modi, during his visit to America, will meet with top CEOs including Tim Cook at Apple Inc. The Indian prime minister’s outreach to Silicon Valley comes in the backdrop of a recently signed MoU which aims to supply affordable clean energy to Indians.

Modi is scheduled to meet several American CEOs including Google’s Larry Page, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Adobe Systems Inc. President & CEO Shantanu Narayen besides Uber Technologies Inc.’s Travis Kalanick. During this trip he is expected to announce a vision for ‘Digital India’ – an initiative meant to further the process of empowering India through Internet services.

Data security will be another key point between Modi and Obama, as the Indian leader has been accused of doing nothing to stop several attacks by Pakistani hackers on Indian cyber infrastructure. Another important topic is Modi’s proposed ‘Make in India’ policy which aims to reduce dependence on imports by encouraging companies to manufacture their products in India. The US government, which is currently reviewing the policy, has expressed concern that it will allow its companies to be edged out by Indian ones.