Modi and the US: A Match Not Exactly Made in Heaven
With the landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in India’s sixteenth general election this year, the country can expect many changes in both domestic and foreign affairs. International relations with many countries, especially the United States, can be expected to change.
The United States, India’s largest trade partner, has had a rocky and somewhat stagnant relationship with the country for the past couple years. Issues like the treatment and arrest of Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, and the American policies on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and Iran have driven a wedge between the governments. With the election of Modi, the situation has just become more awkward. Following his involvement in the 2002 Gujurat riots, Modi was denied a diplomatic visa and access to the US . This ban, which was in place for more than a decade, has recently been lifted, as Modi is now automatically eligible for a diplomatic visa as head of state. The US government is also scrambling to welcome and make peace with Modi. President Obama called Modi to congratulate him on the success of the BJP in the elections, and invite him to the US to help strengthen the India-US relationship. Many other government-officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, and State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki have also congratulated and welcomed Modi to the US. Not all US government members are thrilled about the BJP victory, however. US ambassador Nancy Powell has resigned recently after refusing to engage the BJP in diplomatic relations for a long time.
Modi is not expected to warm up to the US anytime soon, however, the US and India will continue to be major business partners as both economies are interdependent and vulnerable without the other. A visit to the US by Modi can be expected in the near future. With the slot of US ambassador to India opened up, the US government can place someone who will hopefully help ease tensions and promote a more positive relationship with the BJP and help the Indo-American relations flourish once again.[Image Attribute: bjpkarnataka.org]