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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 25 New Delhi June 11, 2016

PM Modi in the US

Saturday 11 June 2016, by SC


While there is no dearth of national issues hitting the headlines, the focus now has shifted to international affairs not only because PM Narendra Modi is currently in Washington D.C. holding substantive talks with US President Barack Obama on major subjects of special concern to New Delhi.

The latest information from the United States is that Hillary Clinton made history yesterday by winning the US presidential nomination from the side of the Democrats; she thus becomes the first American woman to contest for occupation of the White House, having defeated her Democrat rival Bernie Sanders in the race. However, Sanders has declared: “The struggle continues,” adding: “We will not allow Right-wing Republicans to control our government.”

As for Modi’s trip to the US, the most noteworthy event in the US capital was his address to the US Congress today. As the fifth Indian PM to do so, he brought into prominence the urgency of enhancing the struggle against terrorism, underscoring the fact that “not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat”. In his opinion,

In the territory stretching from west of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Lashkar-e-Taiba, to Taliban, to ISIS.

But its philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence.

Although its shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood...

The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation.

And base it on a policy

• that isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists;

• that does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists; and

• that delinks religion from terrorism.

Well aware that several members of the US House of Representatives had conveyed their opposition to religious intolerance in India, Modi in the first half of his speech explicitly pointed out:

For my government, the Constitution is its real holy book.

And in that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights.

And towards the end of the speech, he underlined:

As we deepen our partnership, there would be times when we would have differing perspectives.

But since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision-making and diversity in our perspectives can only add value to our partnership.

Needless to mention, Modi’s hourlong extempore address to the US Congress was punctuated by frequent applause and standing ovations.

The address to the US Congress apart, there were major takeaways from the talks Modi had with Obama—the US extending support to India’s bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) while it was simultaneously disclosed that India had cleared all hurdles to become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR); India and the US Exim Bank deciding to work out an attractive package for delivering AP 1000 nuclear reactors built by Westinghouse to this country; registering considerable forward movement in materialising the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) which will allow the militaries of the two countries to get access to each other’s facilities; India declaring its preparedness to meet climate change commitments before Obama demits office.

June 8 S.C.

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