Nidhi Razdan: India-US ties soar amidst global realignment Video Credit: Gulf News

There has been breathless coverage of Prime Minister Modi’s US visit in the Indian media this week. Some of it is justified, given that it is a state visit, a rare honour accorded to few world leaders at the White House (the last Indian PM on a US state visit was Dr Manmohan Singh).

A part of the coverage was just cringeworthy, with images of a handful of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) dancing on Washington DC streets passing off as “rallies” in support of the PM.

But the outcomes of Mr Modi’s visit to the United States have to be seen away from the propaganda peddled by a pro establishment press on one hand and the outright critics of Mr. Modi on the other, who only see wrong in everything he does.

The fact is this is an important visit, solidifying the India-US relationship at a time when New Delhi has not shied away from pursuing its own independent thinking on foreign policy which may often contradict with its ties with the West.

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Balanced security architecture

There is nothing that stands out more than India’s position on Russia and the Ukraine war. Or the fact that India upped its oil imports from Russia when the West was saying “don’t do it.”

India’s ties with China are far from normal today but New Delhi has been pragmatic that while it will be part of the Quad grouping on one hand, it will also be a part of BRICs where Beijing is a major player.

Despite this, the Biden administration went out of its way to welcome the Indian Prime Minister with a state visit and a rare second address to the US Congress. The China factor and India’s growing economy have a huge role to play in this.

And in Washington, pragmatism has finally dawned - that you don’t need New Delhi to be a military ally in order to work closely on shared goals. There is a realisation that China is too big to “contain” but that a more balanced security architecture needs to be in place in the region.

More confident India

Washington is also dealing with a more confident India when it comes to ties with the US itself. The old hesitation that existed in India’s power corridors is not there. Recall the political hoops that Dr Manmohan Singh had to jump through to get the India-US nuclear deal through. He almost lost his government over it.

To Mr Modi’s credit, he has shed any ambiguity when it comes to the relationship with America and not hesitated to embrace it more closely. Today’s relationship between India and the US is also part of a continuity that started under Mr Vajpayee and was further solidified by Dr Manmohan Singh.

That is why we have seen greater cooperation today in defence and emerging technologies between both sides. For the first time the US is selling sensitive technologies to India for the manufacturing of defence equipment. This is the future and India and US are seizing the moment.

A new momentum

Pragmatism means you won’t hear the US lecture India on human rights, as the White House clearly said on the record ahead of the Modi-Biden talks.

We may say this is a relationship based on “shared values” but is it really? The fact is the US has always dealt with all kinds of governments in its self interest. Pragmatism means both sides will do what is in their national interest.

The India-US relationship should always have been natural one. People to people ties have been strong. History lead India on a different path. But the last couple of decades have marked a shift. The fact is, regardless of who has occupied the White House in this time, India-US ties have only solidified.

Modi’s visit has strengthened that and given it a fresh momentum.