Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit has been spoken about by a gamut of US news organisations. This is Modi’s first visit to Washington under Donald Trump’s presidency, where the two leaders will meet each other face-to-face for the first time. Modi’s visit comes in the midst of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration, the country tightening its grip on the H1-B visa program, as well as Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, where he singled out India as a country that was unfairly benefiting from the climate accord. The visit therefore will have an interesting overtone.
While the US media will provide a detailed coverage once the two world leaders meet at 3:30pm EST on June 26, here is a snapshot of how the press has reported on Modi so far:
The New York Times
Days before Modi’s visit, on June 24, The New York Times spoke about the scheduled meeting between the two leaders from an economic and trade standpoint. It reported that Trump was being prodded to ask Modi to ease the grip on trade. In a piece titled, “U.S. Lawmakers Urge Trump to Press India’s Modi on Trade, Investment”, NYT reported that both the Republican and Democratic parties penned a letter addressed to Trump stating that India should eradicate trade and investment barriers. “Many sectors of the Indian economy remain highly and unjustifiably protected, and India continues to be a difficult place for American companies to do business,” the paper quoted from the letter. According to the Lawmakers, limitations like high tariffs and “inconsistent and non-transparent regulatory practices” have affected several sectors.
The Washington Post
Published on June 26, Washington Post published a piece that analysed how the meeting between the two world leaders could go. It was titled, “Modi’s ‘no frills’ visit to Washington masks a potential minefield’. In this, the paper did not fail to underline that although both Trump and Modi have delved in “affectionate” engagements in the past, since the time Trump has become president, he has “used speeches on job creation and the Paris climate accords to cast India as an unscrupulous negotiator and a threat to American workers.” Therefore, the Post concludes, “…it might seem a strange time for Trump to receive Modi, yet here he is, with closed-door meetings and a private working dinner on the schedule.”
While both Modi and Trump are “strong personalities” and carry “a rather exalted opinion of themselves”, in such a scenario, Modi might make an effort to “remind Trump that their countries share numerous interests, especially in combating so-called radical Islamic terror,” commented Post. It mentioned that the talks might focus primarily on highlighting the positives, particularly the fact that the States is India’s second-largest supplier for defense or the fact that the country recently signed up a $2 billion deal to supply drones to India to guard its coasts.
The article touched upon H1-B visa program, reviewing trade investments and the likely US ambassador to New Delhi, Ken Juster, before wrapping up and making it clear where India stands in the midst of Trump’s priorities: “But ultimately, both at home and abroad, Trump has far weightier problems to deal with, and India doesn’t figure centrally in any of them. Any small win Modi might get from the trip will probably be enough to declare it worthwhile.”
Time magazine provided its readers a ‘what to look forward to’ blueprint of the scheduled meeting. In an article titled, “What to expect from Narendra Modi’s First Meeting with Donald Trump”, the magazine highlighted that Modi will attempt to “set the right tone” by informing Trump that India’s rise will be in the best interest of the United States – stating that India’s economic growth will through American investment, will in turn help America become “great again”. At the same time, the piece mentions that “it wouldn’t be in India’s interests to bring” up the Paris Climate Accord or the H1-B visa system reform. It also touched upon Trump’s view on China: “Modi will want to know where the U.S. stands on Beijing’s growing regional clout.”
It also highlighted that unlike Modi’s earlier visits, which were over-zealous (Modi had a “spectacular Madison Square Garden rally with thousands of Indian-Americans” on his first visit), the present one is a short two-day trip, where Modi will keep a “relatively low profile”, maintaining the visit to be “pretty businesslike”.