Modi’s US visit highlights bilateral ties, UNGA speech outlines governance vision
Indian PM Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Joe Biden stood out in terms of optics and impact.Courtesy: ANI

Modi’s US visit highlights bilateral ties, UNGA speech outlines governance vision

ANALYSIS

Indian prime minister packs in an exhaustive schedule addressing multiple relevant issues of the day in physical interactions with US President Joe Biden and several other world leaders.

The Narendra Modi government continues to move past one landmark after another on a journey in which the brand equity of India grows globally across multiple platforms.

The Indian prime minister’s recently concluded visit to the United States was one such case in point where India put down its statement of intent that it stood shoulder to shoulder with the leading nations of the world and, in some cases, a responsible and unifying leader in the face of a disruptive global environment.

Modi’s visit to the United States stood out in terms of optics and impact. Considering the positive path that bilateral ties between the two nations had taken there was a sense of anticipation as key questions were posed and addressed as well as assessing current global challenges. America’s precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the signing of the recent AUKUS trilateral defence pact have raised eyebrows in Indian strategic circles about the Biden administration’s commitment to the larger India-US bilateral project.

Modi’s first visit to the US since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the bilateral ties getting new momentum between two of the world’s leading nations. It resulted in Quad leaders announcing ambitious initiatives during their first in-person meeting to take forward their vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific and meet 21st-century challenges. The tense situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country was also examined minutely.

To strengthen the rule-based world order, the international community must speak in unison. The broad consensus reached during India's Presidency in the Security Council shows the world the way forward in the matter of maritime security.
- Indian prime minister Narendra Modi

Comprehensive global strategic partnership

What stood out during the Modi-Biden interface was the underlying theme that the comprehensive global strategic partnership between the two countries was firmly anchored in a shared commitment to democratic values and common strategic interests.

Modi foresaw a decade of transformational partnership in the US- India relationship with emphasis on "tradition, technology, trade, trusteeship and talent", raising a few pertinent issues on behalf of the Indian professionals in the US which involved access to the United States for H1-B visa holders and return of social security contributions of Indian professionals when they leave the United States.

Emphasis was also put on the development of trade and economic relations. The two nations re-examined the playbook in areas of technology, in particular, space, cyber, health, AI, 5G, 6G and cyberspace.

A pragmatic stance was adopted in defence where the two sides , envisioned feasible new projects to keep driving defence ties. Co-development, co-production and expanding the area of industrial cooperation in the defence sector was given importance.

One of the major takeaways from the Biden-Modi interface came with the former underlining India’s significance in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), where it currently enjoys the presidency. Biden drove home the fact that India should have a permanent seat in the UNSC.

The pandemic was also examined. Modi’s announcement that India would resume the export of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines was appreciated. At the request of the Quad, India is considering the export of eight million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines to be ready by the end of October. The prime minister also put on the table the prospect of a common international travelling protocol that involved mutual recognition of Covid-19 certification.

Support was sought and also given for Modi’s domestic goal of installing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030.

A memorable UNSC speech

Modi’s address to the UNSC highlighted to the global community India’s impact on global progress.

"When India grows, the world grows; when India reforms, the world transforms," Modi said succinctly to the global community. He underscored the role of technology which has changed the operating structures in every facet of life thus putting the spotlight on diversified, resilient and expanded global value chains.

Modi stated that the UN must improve its effectiveness to maintain its relevance and that it is important the world body is constantly strengthened for preserving "global order, global laws and global values".

He said several questions are being raised concerning the UN. "These questions we have seen in the form of the climate crisis, during COVID. The proxy wars in different parts of the world, terrorism and now Afghanistan have reinforced those questions. The institutions linked to world governance have harmed their credibility in the context of origins of COVID-19 and ease of doing business rankings," he said.

He called on the international community to work in unison to strengthen the rule-based world order.

"To strengthen the rule-based world order, the international community must speak in unison. The broad consensus reached during India's Presidency in the Security Council shows the world the way forward in the matter of maritime security," he said.

PM Modi said the countries which are making use of regressive thinking as a "political tool" must understand, that terrorism poses an equally big threat for them.

The four Quad leaders shared perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan, emergent challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific, reaffirmed their commitment to work together to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and work towards preventing other pandemics that would come in the future.

Modi also pinpointed the destructive roles certain nations could play with their patronage of terrorist activities in the international arena. Terrorism, according to Modi, was being applied as a political tool and this could foster regressive thinking and extremism. The situation in Afghanistan was a classic example and could turn out to be a disastrous experiment for those who were using it as a laboratory to further their ideological and political agendas.

On Afghanistan, importance was attached to the UN resolution 2593 adopted under India's Presidency of the Security Council. The Taliban was called to adhere to its commitments under resolution 2593, which includes ensuring that Afghan territory is not used to threaten and attack any countries and to shelter or train terrorist groups. "The world must ensure that the land of Afghanistan must not be used to spread terrorism and terrorist attacks. We must stay alert that no one should make use of the delicate situation in Afghanistan as a political tool for their own use," Modi said.

Interaction with global CEOs

To drive home India’s global stature Modi also interacted, one-on-one, with some of the world’s five top corporate leaders and urged them to invest for growing returns in India. The corporate leaders were from a range of diverse sectors ranging from drones to 5G, semiconductor, and solar. Tech was clearly the buzzword during these exchanges.

Indian PM Narendra Modi, Australian PM Scott Morrison, US President Joe Biden, and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga before a Quad summit, in Washington DC. The leaders shared common perspectives on global challenges of the day.
Indian PM Narendra Modi, Australian PM Scott Morrison, US President Joe Biden, and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga before a Quad summit, in Washington DC. The leaders shared common perspectives on global challenges of the day.Courtesy: ANI

Working the mechanisms of the Quad

India’s stature within the Quad was also exemplified during Modi’s in-person interactions with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, on September 23, along with US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Modi reiterated his stand that the Quad was a "force for global good, and India, United States, Australia and Japan would strive to ensure peace and prosperity in Indo-Pacific and in the entire world.” The four Quad leaders shared perspectives on the situation in Afghanistan, emergent challenges in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific, reaffirmed their commitment to work together to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and work towards preventing other pandemics that would come in the future.

A common approach was also patterned out towards emerging technologies, cyber security and addressing the challenge of climate change.

Commitment to climate change

In what has clearly become the most engaging debate among corporates, citizens and governments, Modi proposed the concept of a global green hydrogen initiative.

According to Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, "We have already identified green corridors, including green ports in India. And the idea is that we cooperate to develop India as a hub of green hydrogen.”

Modi underscored the role of technology which has changed the operating structures in every facet of life thus putting the spotlight on diversified, resilient and expanded global value chains.

UNGA address puts the spotlight on India

In his speech at the 75th UNGA, Modi said there is a need to stay away from race of "expansion and exclusion".

He highlighted flagship schemes of his government including Ayushmann Bharat, PM Awas Yojana and PM Jan Dhan Yojana and emphasised the principle of 'Antyodaya'.

"I can say with my own experience that democracy can deliver. Yes, democracy has delivered. Today is the birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the proponent of Ekatma Manav darshan, which means integral humanism or the development journey undertaken together with the expansion of the self to the universe moving from individual to the society to the nation and the entire humanity," he said.

Modi pointed that his government's priority is that development should be all-inclusive, universal and one that nurtures all.

He said the UN must improve its effectiveness to maintain its relevance and that it is important the world body is constantly strengthened for preserving "global order, global laws and global values".

He said several questions are being raised concerning the UN. "These questions we have seen in the form of the climate crisis, during COVID. The proxy wars in different parts of the world, terrorism and now Afghanistan have reinforced those questions. The institutions linked to world governance have harmed their credibility in the context of origins of COVID-19 and ease of doing business rankings," he said.

He called on the international community to work in unison to strengthen the rule-based world order.

"To strengthen the rule-based world order, the international community must speak in unison. The broad consensus reached during India's Presidency in the Security Council shows the world the way forward in the matter of maritime security," he said.

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