So, US President is joining Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the latter’s Houston rally which is titled as Howdy Modi on September 22.
As reported, the White House in its official statement has said, “It (Modi-Trump joint rally) will be a great opportunity to emphasize the strong ties between the people of the United States and India, to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies, and to discuss ways to deepen their energy and trade relationship.”
PM Modi has acknowledged this gesture from the US President through these tweets.
A special gesture by @POTUS, signifying the special friendship between India and USA!
Delighted that President @realDonaldTrump will join the community programme in Houston on the 22nd.
Looking forward to joining the Indian origin community in welcoming him at the programme.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 16, 2019
The Rare Balance
The balance PM Modi has achieved in dealing with small and big nations, in terms of economy and size, provides us an interesting insight. In an interview to ‘The Indian Express’ in May 2019, PM Modi had said this on his foreign policy approach.
“I do not have an academic background nor am I disconnected from the public. For me, my priority is the country. This is my patriotism. So that is how I make my relationships (with these global leaders). Personal relations play a strong role in understanding each other. My friendly equations with them are reflected in their policies as well. They will remember Modi and this is what he had said.”
Nevertheless, considering that the USA under Donald Trump is arguably more demanding and very vocal, it may be argued that dealing with Donald Trump’s America is a different diplomatic exercise altogether. Therefore, how Modi’s India has dealt with this may give answer to the question Howdy, Modi? (informal way of asking how do you do).
PM Modi’s ‘Howdy’ with President Trump
When ones go through various recent engagements between PM Modi and President Trump, a thing seems to be clear. Though, President Donald Trump was seen very demanding on many issues with India, at the end PM Modi’s India has always managed to get what it wanted.
See these instances where India’s stance got vindicated in the last.
Instance: Trump on Jammu Kashmir
Initially it was seen that perhaps US was trying to use Jammu Kashmir as some sort of bargaining chip to negotiate with India when Trump had said that he was ready to mediate between India and Pakistan. He had also said that PM Modi had also wanted mediation. India rebutted it saying that PM Modi had made no such offers to Donald Trump. US relented after India held the ground firmly on this issue.
Instance: On Iran
When America re-imposed sanctions against Iran in 2018, two crucial elements -India’s interests in Chabahar port and oil import from Iran – faced a major threat. But by getting the concession for both the oil import and Chabahar Port development India has shown its diplomatic edge.
Instance: Defence deal with Russia
It was obvious that USA was not happy with India inking S-400 missile system deal with Russia. But India went ahead as it deemed fit to strengthen our defense apparatus in the current times. There were opinions that India would face sanctions against this.
But when India stuck to its stand and signed the deal, nothing of that sort happened as the US gave a very guarded reply and said, “the waiver authority is not for a blanket waiver. It is transaction-specific. There are strict criteria for considering a waiver.”
You may read on this more in our previous article India got Liberated from Bi-polar Geopolitics – What the Sanctions on Iran & S-400 Episodes Tell us.
Instance: On Pulwama attack
When Mumbai attack happened in 2008, US along with the other prominent nations had advised restraint to India. But when Pulwama happened, even the US had come to term with the fact that India will respond to Pakistan befittingly no matter what the world would advise them. Just recall the words of President Trump days before India’s action on Balakot, his understanding of Modi’s India seemed just perfect and he refrained himself from giving any advice of restraint at that point of time!
Of course, there are many issues that Donald Trump never agrees with India and true to his style, he is vocal about those things. That being said, he also knows the strength of new India. The decision to attend the Howdy Modi event which is expected to see the gathering of 50,000 strong Indian-American crowds, comes from this understanding.
The utterings of President Trump on the occasion of Diwali celebration in 2018 perhaps summarises the realisation he had about India. He said, “They’re very good negotiators, you would say, right? The best. So, we’re working, and it’s moving along.” Adding further that “the United States has deep ties to the nation of India and, I am grateful for my friendship with Prime Minister Modi”.