US President Joe Biden, with his sights fixed on countering China, has forged a close alliance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, disregarding any reservations about Modi’s authoritarian tendencies and embracing him in a manner rarely seen with other global leaders.
The two leaders engaged in a state visit marked by lavish ceremonies, intimate and gala dinners, high-profile meetings with CEOs, and a host of tangible outcomes. These outcomes included agreements on crucial areas such as US engines for India’s fighter-jets and the establishment of a major semiconductor factory.
Experts believe that Biden’s approach is aimed at signaling the resurgence of American global leadership, showcasing partnerships and alliances, with India being a key ally in countering China. The joint statement issued during Modi’s visit, which encompasses defense cooperation comparable to that of NATO or other treaty allies, is described as “remarkable” in its scope.
The Biden administration recognizes China as the foremost long-term challenger to the United States, despite efforts to manage tensions. Both Biden and Modi downplayed the China factor publicly, but Modi’s mention of a “free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific” during his address to the US Congress was met with resounding applause from lawmakers, clearly referencing China’s regional ambitions.
India, with its rapid economic growth and surpassing of China as the world’s most populous country, shares a longstanding territorial dispute with China, contributing to a negative perception of China among the Indian public.
While Modi enjoyed a more apparent camaraderie with former President Donald Trump, who even attended a massive rally organized by Modi in Gujarat, it is worth noting that US presidents from both major parties have sought closer ties with India since the late 1990s. The alignment between the world’s largest democracies has been seen as an opportunity to overcome the estrangement that occurred during the Cold War.
However, Modi’s leadership carries some baggage, as his past involvement in alleged anti-Muslim riots led to the denial of a US visa prior to becoming prime minister in 2014. The US State Department’s latest religious freedom report highlighted vigilante violence against minorities and raids on media offices in India. Nevertheless, Biden made it clear that human rights concerns would not hinder the burgeoning relationship with India, emphasizing the shared challenges both countries face in upholding democracy.
Despite the criticism, Biden appears to prioritize showcasing the partnership with India and countering China over concerns about democratic backsliding in the country. This approach has led to the fulfillment of both leaders’ aspirations and has elevated the partnership to its highest level of prestige.
While some experts question India’s commitment to formal alliances and doubt its support in potential conflicts between the US and China, Modi’s rejection of certain aspects of India’s nonalignment policy and his willingness to collaborate more closely with the United States have paradoxically emerged from his anti-elite background.
Modi’s primary objective during the visit was to deliver concrete results, not seek personal validation, as he aims to establish India as an indispensable partner in the Indo-Pacific region.
The news highlights an important diplomatic event, namely the private dinner hosted by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the White House for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The gesture of welcoming a foreign leader with a private dinner signifies the significance and warmth of the bilateral relationship between the United States and India.
Such an event holds great diplomatic significance, as it provides an opportunity for leaders to engage in informal discussions and build personal rapport, which can strengthen bilateral ties and facilitate open communication on a range of issues. The fact that the dinner was held at the White House, the official residence of the President, further emphasizes the importance attributed to the visit.
The private nature of the dinner indicates that the discussions may touch upon sensitive topics or matters of strategic importance. It is common for leaders to address key areas of mutual interest during such occasions, including trade, security, defense cooperation, and regional issues. Additionally, personal interactions and informal exchanges can often help foster a deeper understanding and trust between leaders.
Given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads one of the world’s largest democracies and that India is considered a significant strategic partner for the United States, the dinner serves as a platform for both leaders to reaffirm their commitment to strengthening bilateral relations and addressing shared challenges. It also presents an opportunity to discuss common goals, such as countering China’s influence in the region, promoting economic cooperation, and addressing global issues like climate change and terrorism.
Overall, this private dinner signifies the importance and commitment of both the United States and India to enhance their partnership and collaboration across various fields, highlighting the significance of their relationship on the global stage.