Preparations are underway to make it Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s highly memorable US visit. Starting with the visit to the Madison Square in the New York City, where a historic public reception by over 300 Indo-American organizations awaits him to his private dinner with President Barack Obama to his delegation level talks with US authorities to addressing CEOs of the top American companies—every event has been synchronised to give the visit a wider publicity in the US. Yet, will be turn out to be a big-ticket visit, is a question topping the minds of people in India.
Taking place after Narendra Modi’s highly successful visit to Japan and the Australian Prime Minister’s signing of nuclear deal during his just concluded visit and then Chinese President Xi Jinping’s high voltage trip to India, the Prime Minister’s US itinerary will also be a closely watched affair-both for diplomatic and strategic community in the world. Especially given that India under Modi is taking quick decisions to strengthen Indian economy and its defence and strategic interests.
Focus on acquiring latest defence know how
In America, according to diplomatic experts, the focus of the Prime Minister’s visit will not be just for escalating American investments in India, but for increasing the flow of high-end technology for joint productions in sectors like defence where FDI has been hiked to 49 per cent. It is said that during visits of US authorities like Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, India emphasized on transforming the two countries relations from “rhetoric oriented to result oriented”. It was in this background the visiting US Defence Secretary had admitted that America would “seize opportunities” to jointly develop as many as 12 weapon systems, including the Javelin anti-tank missiles, MH-60 multirole helicopters, UAVs, anti-mining devices. But India frankly told Americans that the former would be more interested in the “fifth generation” version of defence technologies than the existing ones, for the joint production.
Officials from South Block say that Prime Minister is himself taking a keen interest in every detail prior to his much publicised US visit, which will take into account one-to-one meeting with several notable companies’ honchos, including Boeing Corporation chief James McNerney and luncheon meeting with the Lockheed Martin boss. Nonetheless, head of Prime Minister Modi’s visit, the Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared the purchase of 22 Apache attack and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.
Cooperation in unconventional sectors
Energy is another sector, after defence, which will see likely finalisation of talks between the two countries. Modi is interested for unconventional resources like wind and solar energy to meet the country’s energy deficiency. To this regard India aims to get US technology and investment for setting up 100,000 MW power stations based on wind and solar technology. Currently India has an installed capacity of 2,750 MW of solar power and 21,800 MW of wind power. With help from American technology, India wants to augment power generation from these unconventional sources.
Next to wind and solar, it is another source like shale oil to meet the country’s energy security. The US is considered to be a leader in shale exploration technology. India has huge shale deposit in Andhra, Assam, Gujarat and Rajasthan, as such it will seek expertise from American companies in extracting those deposits. Pending the exploration inside the country, the two sides may enter into an agreement for the export of shale oil to India. Oil storage and its management is another area in the sector where the two sides may witness an agreement.
Also, New Delhi and Washington would re-energize themselves for negotiations on the issue of supply of nuclear technology, which the American companies like Westinghouse and General Electric have declined to offer because of India’s stringent liability law binding supplier with huge compensatory commitments in the event of nuclear accident. Modi’s one-to-one meeting with General Electric company’s chairman Jeffrey Immelt, during his US visit, hints clearly that New Delhi is ready to push American companies to remove their hesitation in having business with India. It is said that India will take the case of Russia to convince them to see merit in supplying their technology.
Trade and investment main thrust
Trade and investment would be major thrust of Modi’s US visit. In fact, with development being the key agenda of the BJP-led NDA government, it would be pertinent for the Prime Minister Modi to play the best card in securing investments from American companies for whom Japan and China by pumping in billions of dollar worth of money in Indian infrastructure, have already shown the path. Roads, power, ports, rail, airports, water and sewage are areas where India needs one trillion dollars worth of investments in five years.
During US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s last month visit, Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman, had shown the visiting US dignitary the blueprints of India’s plan for infrastructure-related projects. She is said to have also shown Pritzker who was accompanied by two Indian Americans – Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary and Vinai Thummalapally, an Assistant who works in the US Department of Commerce, New Delhi’s plan to build up 100 smart cities and special economic zones. Overly, it will be what Modi will play during his visit for which he has already posted BJP officials, his key men from Gujarat, and of course some central government officials in advance.
His scheduled meeting with several big business leaders and hosting of a luncheon meeting with nearly a dozen CEOs of multinational companies like Abbot Pharma, Lockheed Martin, Pepsi and Master Card on September 29, has been undertaken with objectives of helping them have large footprints in India, the country which is very much keen to have American technology to boost metrological analysis, biology, mobile, cinema and printing technique. Besides, the two sides want enhancement in the two way trade from $120 billion in 2013 to $250 billion in 2015. It is said that the US Vice President has lobbied for jacking up trade with India by $500 billion in the next five years. In total, from trade to investment more than half a dozen agreements ranging from defence, space, energy, agriculture, biology, storage and others could be signed during the visit where schedules are packed with Modi interacting with Indian-Americans, politicians and business leaders.
Then in order to give boost to tourism and people-to-people contact between the two nations, India has plan up its sleeve to give visa on arrival to US citizens who don’t have residence or occupation in India and whole sole objective is creation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives. Already citizens of 12 countries are enjoying this facility forwarded by India. There is also likely hood of signing of agreement on intelligence-sharing for counter-terrorism. All this apart, the two countries are going the raise on the table issues related to reform of the UN Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank.
With regard to Afghanistan and scheduled withdrawal of troops from it, will also be discussed during the visit. Syria and Ukraine, Southeast Asia and China-are also going to dominate the talks during Modi and President Obama’s meeting. Overall, New Delhi and Washington have drawn plans to turn Modi’s forthcoming visit a highly successful one to make world forget the humiliation US shown towards him by denying visa since 2005.