World’s oldest democracy meets world’s largest democracy!
The President of the US, Donald Trump (POTUS) and the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump (FLOTUS) were in India for two days starting February 24 along with their daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.
The first day of the visit was all about optics – tens of thousands lined up the streets to greet POTUS on his way from the Ahmedabad airport to the Motera cricket stadium, in Gujarat, the biggest in the world. At the stadium, he addressed more than 100,000 people. In his speech, Trump was all praises about Modi for his rise as the PM of India because of his hard work and dedication to the people of the country. He mentioned Bollywood (DDLJ), cricket (Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli) and saints (Swami Vivekananda) – good enough topics to get Indians interested.
In the evening he went to see the ‘Taj Mahal’ at Agra along with his family and came back to Delhi in the night. The next day saw his welcome by the President at the Rashtrapati Bhawan and then two countries signing some deals followed by a press conference and a state dinner hosted by the President. The deals signed included a $3 billion deal for buying attack helicopters and other US military equipment.
The Trump visit gave an impetus to the Indo-US relationship. The trip was crucial for both leaders. For Trump, having Modi or India on his side means some votes in his favor back home in the upcoming elections considering less than 20% of the Indian Americans voted in favor of Republicans in the 2016 elections. For Modi, having the leader of the biggest economy by his side definitely puts him in a good spot in every way. Given the current situation of the Chinese economy because of the COVID-19 outbreak, both the US and India are looking at booking big trade deals and gaining from it. The much talked about trade deal did not go through and that is why probably Trump kept mentioning that Modi is a ‘tough negotiator’ while he was in India. The agreements will not come easy since new Indian tariff proposals aimed at strengthening ‘Make in India’ have made trade talks more difficult according to US officials but this is the right time when India can present itself as the alternative manufacturing and electronics hub and direct the US capital inflows into India. Looking ahead for exciting times!