Howdy Modi! A positive message to the immigrants in the US and an attempt to woo voters, say experts

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Updated: Sep 16, 2019 6:42 PM

The two leaders are likely to play to the gallery by underlining the personal chemistry, growing strategic ties between India and the US, and coming together of the two largest democracies of the world, he says.

Interestingly, the Indian Caucus in both the House and Senate of the US Congress has around 100 members who have been ensuring that the relationship between the two countries is on track and is growing.

It’s confirmed, for the first time even a US President is going to address the Indian community along with an Indian leader later this month. President Donald Trump will address the Indian community at a public event ‘Howdy Modi’ organised by Texas India Forum on Sept 22, which is very important for the India-US relationship as well as the geopolitics of the world. It is also now clear that the India factor has gained in importance in the US political discourse. According to experts, this will give the US leader and the top lawmakers to connect with the Indian Diaspora at one big gathering.

Indo-US relations

The relations between the two countries have been growing over the past few years in diverse areas including defence and military exercises, space sector energy and agriculture. The defence trade between the two countries has reached around $ 15 billion. Indian orders have created jobs in the US defence sector. Today, the two have set a trade target of $ 238 billion by 2025, which is not difficult to achieve.

Interestingly, the Indian Caucus in both the House and Senate of the US Congress has around 100 members who have been ensuring that the relationship between the two countries is on track and is growing.

Expert view

Arun Singh, former ambassador to the US says, “From President Trump’s point of view, addressing the mega Indian origin Diaspora event, jointly with Prime Minister Modi is an effective way to reach out to the community, in the run-up to the 2020 US Presidential elections. According to available data, in 2016, the community had voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.”

And, “From the Indian point of view, it is an endorsement of the value that the US attaches to the relationship and the role the Indian Diaspora plays in contributing to innovation, investment, and economic activities in the US.”

According to Singh, Trump’s joining such an event will give a positive message on immigrants from India at a time when there is fanning of anti-immigration sentiment in the US. It will also send a message across the US system and globally about the growing strength of the India- US relationship.

Says Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, “President Trump’s presence on the stage with PM Modi at the rally on Sept 22, will impart a huge impetus to bilateral ties. Presence of the two leaders together in front of the mammoth Indian-American crowd of more than 50,000 will signify the energy and dynamism of bilateral relations as well as the growing significance of Indian Diaspora in American economic and political life.”

“Presence of a senior Democratic leader on the stage will emphasise the strong bipartisan support to the strategic partnership between India and the US. In these uncertain times, vibrant ties between India and America are crucial for global peace and security,” adds Sajjanhar, President, Institute of Global Studies.

According to Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, “The presence of President Trump and many other lawmakers at the `Howdy Modi’ India event in Texas is quite a trendsetter. It not only shows the comfort level enjoyed by PM Modi and the US President Trump with each other but also shows the importance of the Indian Diaspora in the US elections. The fact that the lawmakers and President Trump will immediately connect with more than 50,000 influential members of the Indian Diaspora at one go is a big draw.”

This election should play out in different ways – in the political and economic ties between the world’s two largest democracies. The people to people connect as well as in the tweaking of US rules and regulations as appropriate for the Indian American voter. It will lead to confidence in India about this relationship and will cement the future bonds between the two nations further, he opines.

Sharing his views, Ambassador Anil Trigunayat says, “Trump may have seen his predecessor at the New York event at the biggest arena and this would be an excellent opportunity to woo the PIOs, who are rich and powerful and are also contributors to the campaigns who might have played a role. Moreover, Trump is said to be meeting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan twice on the sidelines of UNGA and this would balance out any repercussions. At the end its upcoming US elections on his mind and he might aim again for Ab ki baar Trump Sarkar.”

According to Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU, “The media spectacle of Modi’s rally at the Madison Square Garden at New York in 2014 seems to have encouraged the Indo-American community to re-organise a similar event with additional features – this time with the President of America in the southern state of Texas. The temptation of media draws these two leaders together.”

The two leaders are likely to play to the gallery by underlining the personal chemistry, growing strategic ties between India and the US, and coming together of the two largest democracies of the world, he says.

The press-statement of the White House underlines the importance of partnership between US, India and Australia. Interestingly, after meeting Modi, Trump will visit Ohio to discuss strategic and trade issues with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Adding, “One is reminded of the Quadrilateral meeting that takes place between the US, India, Australia and Japan. The grouping of the four democracies, as they call it, focuses on security and free-navigation in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in the South China Sea where China’s aggressive policies have causes alarms. In all likelihood, security issues in the Indo-Pacific will be discussed during their meeting.”

This meeting comes soon after India’s recent agreements with Russia in Russia’s Far East region. One wonders if this is an attempt by the US to arrest India’s drift towards Russia, and keep it tied to its Indo-Pacific strategy. “Trade issues, sanctions on Iran and Russia and implications for India, peace deal in Afghanistan and terrorism from Pakistan are other significant issues which are likely to be addressed by two leaders”, he adds.

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