The red-carpet reception India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi received during his much-anticipated historic visit to the United States of America was expected, given the tour’s potential influence on the geopolitical headwinds.
Global leaders are naturally spraying warmth with words, with former United States Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster telling a certain section of the media that the occasion is another step in strengthening the strategic relationship between both countries.
However, two members of the American House of Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, took to social media to announce that they were boycotting the Indian PM’s address to the US Congress.
“It’s shameful that Modi has been given a platform at our nation’s capital—his long history of human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, targeting Muslims & religious minorities, and censoring journalists is unacceptable. I will be boycotting Modi’s joint address to Congress,” Tlaib wrote in a post.
“A series of independent, credible reports reflect troubling signs in India toward the shrinking of political space, the rise of religious intolerance, the targeting of civil society organisations and journalists, and growing restrictions on press freedoms and internet access,” the lawmakers, led by Senator Chris Van Hollen and Representative Pramila Jayapal, wrote to the US president.
Many human rights activists organised protests during Modi’s visit to the US, both in New York and Washington DC.
Earlier, the BBC published the views of Tanvi Madan, director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. “At the end of the day, whether or not India has publicly embraced the tag, it is very clear that Indian governments have seen the US relationship as helpful as they deal with China,” she was quoted as saying.
Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center think-tank in Washington, told the British website that India and the US are “seeing eye to eye on the broader Indo-Pacific theatre”.
“We are starting to see the US recognise the importance of western components of the Indian Ocean region. For many years, India’s main concern, for good reason, was the Indian Ocean region. Whereas for the US, it was the Pacific and the South China Sea. They will look at maritime security for the region now,” he told the BBC.
On Tuesday, PM Modi met distinguished personalities, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who spoke about India in glowing terms. The air wasn’t rife with negativity, especially after Twitter’s former owner and CEO Jack Dorsey’s recent allegations against the Indian government.
Musk, now Twitter’s CEO, went to the extent of saying that “the best we can do is to follow the laws in any given country.” “It’s impossible for us to do more than that. One just cannot apply America to earth,” he added, hinting at a visit to India soon.
Modi, visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, will be meeting over two dozen thought leaders, including economists, Nobel laureates, scientists, artists, scholars, academicians, entrepreneurs, and health sector experts.
They include Nobel laureate economist Paul Romer, astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson, writer Nicholas Nassim Taleb and investor Ray Dalio. Taleb said, “I commended India for its response to Covid and how India has very efficiently dealt with it. Discussed risk-taking and anti-fragility with the Prime Minister.”
On his meeting with Robert AF Thurman, an American Buddhist author who has published, edited, and translated several books on Tibetan Buddhism, Modi tweeted, ‘The interaction with @BobThurman was outstanding. I admire his passion towards research and scholarship on aspects relating to Buddhism. I highlighted India’s Buddhist heritage and how Buddhism can help overcome many challenges our world faces.’
India’s PM also highlighted the importance of academic collaboration and private participation in the space sector between India and the US under India’s National Space Policy, an MEA spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Modi is also scheduled to observe the International Day of Yoga at the United Nations headquarters with the UN leadership and members of the international community. Representatives from 188 countries are expected to attend the event.