Biden welcomes Modi with pomp, pageantry

By Peter Baker | The New York Occasions

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden rolled out the pink carpet Thursday to formally welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to the White Home for a pomp-filled state go to meant to woo the world’s most populous nation as the US navigates battle with Russia and rising pressure with China.

Biden celebrated India’s rise with a lavish show of friendship marked by marching bands, honor guards and a 21-gun salute on the South Garden, which was adopted by an Oval Workplace assembly and a gala state dinner.

“I’ve lengthy believed that the connection between the US and India will probably be one of many defining relationships of the twenty first century,” Biden instructed a crowd gathered on the South Garden, “two proud nations whose love of freedom secured our independence, certain by the identical phrases in our Structure, the primary three phrases, ‘We the folks.’ ”

Modi thanked Biden for the consideration of a state go to and likewise steered the 2 nations may sort out worldwide challenges in tandem.

“Within the post-COVID period, the world order is taking a brand new form,” he stated by means of a translator.

The go to is the newest transfer on the geopolitical chessboard as Biden seeks extra allies towards more and more aggressive governments in Moscow and Beijing.

A member of the Affiliation of Indo People, Gunasekaran Pathakkam is a part of a bunch that traveled to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday evening to attend the welcome ceremony.

“It is a nice honor. The preparations on the White Home had been very good. Some 6,000-7,000 Indians gathered right here. There was a big crowd. It was a novel expertise to see the heads of state of the 2 largest democracies on this planet assembly right here. I’m feeling superior!” he stated.

Modi was requested about human rights violations towards minorities and the stifling of freedom of speech in India at a information convention Thursday. He stated there’s no house for discrimination in India and democracy runs within the nation’s veins.

On this, Pathakkam stated, “There’ll all the time be criticism. There may be freedom of speech in India. In any other case how would we all know what’s happening within the nation?”

However not all Indian folks within the U.S. agree.

Mithi Pandey, a 19-year-old Indian scholar at San Jose State College stated she felt very proud that Modi was within the U.S. for a state go to.

“India is creating in some ways,” Pandey stated. “The inhabitants of Indians is rising right here within the U.S. and it’s attention-grabbing to see how supportive PM Modi is for Indians right here.”

However referring to allegations of human rights violations towards minorities in India, Pandey stated, “We’re open to foreigners however to not cultures of our personal nation. By way of everybody on this planet, sure India may be very open to all. However inside India, that’s not the case.”

U.S. Rep Ro Khanna, whose mother and father immigrated to the U.S. from India within the Seventies, represents a big swath of Silicon Valley, together with elements of Fremont, which has a big Indian American inhabitants.

“In Congress, I’ve been one of many strongest voices for pluralism and human rights and towards unique nationalism,” Khanna stated. “We are able to present respect to the democratically elected management in India whereas nonetheless talking out about American values. It’s my hope that this go to is fostering a constructive dialogue about human rights and spiritual equality.”

India, whose inhabitants just lately surpassed China’s to guide the world, represents maybe a very powerful of the so-called World South nations that Biden is pursuing, each for its financial potential in addition to for its geopolitical place. To mark their ties, the 2 leaders deliberate to announce an extended record of initiatives advancing cooperation on telecommunications, semiconductors, synthetic intelligence and different areas, in response to administration officers.

Among the many most concrete agreements to be introduced, officers stated, will probably be a deal between Common Electrical and the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. to fabricate in India F414 engines used to energy the Boeing F/A-18E/F Tremendous Hornet. The 2 sides additionally will announce that India will proceed with a long-stalled
$3 billion buy of MQ-9B Predator drones from Common Atomics.

The navy {hardware} gross sales might assist proceed to wean India off Russian arms suppliers, however in any other case officers previewing the go to provided no indications that Modi would transfer nearer to backing Ukraine within the conflict, nor had been there any concrete examples of elevated cooperation to counter China’s assertive strikes within the Indo-Pacific area.

Biden administration officers steered the assembly was only one step in an evolution of India’s stance on the Ukraine conflict, a part of what they characterised as “bending the arc of India’s engagement,” so New Delhi could be useful in encouraging diplomacy when the time for negotiations finally arrives.

However in cultivating Modi, who earlier than changing into prime minister was denied a U.S. visa due to his function in a lethal non secular riot in his residence state, it was clear that Biden was taking a smooth strategy to backsliding on democracy in India, the place the federal government has cracked down on dissent and hounded opponents.

In his welcome remarks, Biden described the 2 nations as fellow democracies dedicated to common values with out instantly mentioning the rising suppression of minority teams and opposition voices in India.

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