All Praise and No Woes, Makes Indians Happy
Donald Trump was on a two-day visit to India. His self-professed ‘friend’ PM Narendra Modi had visited Trump and the US in 2019 at Houston at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event. PM Modi had visited Houston right after 2019 Lok Sabha Elections and coincidentally, Trump is on India visit before US Presidential elections.
Donald Trump’s address at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad had praises for the grandeur of India and warmth of the growing ties between the two leaders similar to Narendra Modi’s address at the Houston, where all he had for the US President was praise. Be it India’s Make in India or USA’s Make America Great Again, both the nations have been making an attempt to strengthen ties on fronts of trade, military, and combating radical Islamic terrorism.
Trump hailed Narendra Modi as the prime example of an environment of equal opportunities in India, where a tea seller can become a Prime Minister. Also according to him, PM Modi is a tough negotiator.
Prime Minister Modi, you are not just the pride of Gujarat, you are living proof that with hard work and devotion, Indians can accomplish anything, anything at all, anything they want. – Donald Trump
Trump said that India was able to achieve immense progress as a democratic and diverse nation. He lauded Narendra Modi’s efforts to make electricity available in almost every household of India and provide internet to nearly 320 million people. Under Modi’s reign, nearly 70 million households received access to cooking fuel and 600 million people were able to get access to sanitation, as per Trump. He added that every minute 12 Indians are lifted out of extreme poverty.
He recognized the very central role of values in both the democracies and recalled the religious teacher Swami Vivekananda. Praising Bollywood to Cricket to Indian leaders, Trump also stressed on the issue of fighting radical Islamic terrorism and cited the example of the assassination of Al-Bagdadi in Iraq. He assured strong military ties between the two nations as well.
For this reason, since taking office, my administration is working in a very positive way with Pakistan to crack down on the terrorist organizations and militants that operate on the Pakistani border. Our relationship with Pakistan is a very good one. – Donald Trump on curbing terrorism
Indo-US Trade See-Saw
Trade relations between India and the US have been see-sawing since Trump held office. Trump slapped a 25% tariff on steel imports from India in 2018, compelling India to go to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a resolution. Later US removed India from its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. Washington and Delhi also had a contention over tariffs that India laid on premium motorcycles like the Harley Davidson. India reduced the tariffs from 100% to 50%. India has also time and again asked US to relax Visa policies for Indians, especially the IT professionals.
US-China Trade War seems to have made Trump realize that support of India is inevitable as the oldest democracy’s grip loosens over South-East Asian nations.
Tie the Deal Knot
In a joint press conference by Narendra Modi and Donald Trump, the US President said that India and US have signed 3 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs).
- An MoU pertaining to Mental Health was signed between the health department of both countries.
- An MoU between US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation on ‘Safety of Medical Products‘.
- Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), Exxon Mobil, and Chart Industries Inc, US signed a letter of cooperation for supplying Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to unconnected areas through road, rail and waterways.
India’s Defence Game
India and US also signed a $3 billion Defense Deal. India will procure advanced American military equipment including Apache and MH-60 SeaHawk/Romeo helicopters. The AH-64E Apache is the finest, most advanced combat helicopter with a capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well.
Experts outline this purchase as a shift from the regular seller, Russia to American Defence weapons. It also seems that India is gaining more control over dictating its foreign policy, especially when it comes to procuring Defence equipment – when earlier it had to settle for outdated warplanes like Migs from Russia. India is in talks with Russia for buying an S-400 advanced missile system. However, US had threatened India with sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) but did not follow through on the threat. US had also threatened India with sanctions over the construction of Chabahar port in Iran, but India got an exemption.
Trump and Modi also talked about 5G wireless networks and H1B Visas. When asked about CAA, Trump was of the opinion that India would best resolve the matter internally. He also mentioned that progress is being made on the trade deal and tariffs, especially on matters like tariff on Harley Davidson. Talking about combating Coronavirus, Trump said the US was working closely with China and that it is spending nearly $2 billion to control the spread of the pandemic.
India is going to be major player in the next 50 to 100 years; India is going to have a phenomenal future. – Donald Trump
Donald Trump has been added to the list of Barack Obama, D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, et al. who have made tremendous efforts to establish strong ties with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Narendra Modi and India gallop ahead with refreshed ties with the self-professed “true and great friend in the White House“.