Handshakes with Uncle Sam
The Indian Express compared Narendra Modi’s journey to Washington D.C. with India’s journey to the Mars. This comparison reflects exactly how I perceived his trip: as a big show with few concrete results.
Narendra Modi talked to Obama about security cooperation, but he didn’t mention if India would support the US and its allies in their fight against the IS. India could also get more involved in the South Asian security. Unfortunately, no concrete steps were discussed. Further, India imports loads of American military material, such as helicopters as well as air rockets (Hellfire and Stinger).
Additionally, Modi talked to many business men and American companies. He desires more investment from American companies in the Indian market. He has tried to build up a brand called “Make in India” to underline the Indian asset of labor force. As a strategic move, he assured Indian-Americans easier Visa policies and promised to decrease bureaucratic processes. This commitment shows again that his core goals are for now economical.
About being a Rock Star
Besides talking about Business and Security issues, his trip had a mostly symbolic significance, because Modi was not allowed to enter America since 2005 due to his role in Gujarat riots. During the past decade India’s ties with the United States grew closer, especially in form of nuclear cooperation. His trip to America showed that the Indian-American alliance is quite important for the country today. Lastly, he wanted to take care of his own image and was often celebrated like a rockstar. Some fans came along with his face printed on T-Shirts. Indians often complain that he worries too much about his own image and too little about concrete results.
Judging his general policy right now would be way too early – but Modi, the media is watching you!