USA’s warming up to Modi is an indication of the things to come
America's unilateral isolation of Narendra Modi for almost nine years was often criticized as disrespect for India's electoral democratic process especially since getting elected as a chief minister three times in a row is never a mean achievement. Eventually it now seems that US had no option but to blip first given the manner in which things have shaped up in India.
The Reasons for the Reversal of Stand by US....
With Narendra Modi getting a clean chit (Read here) from none other than the Supreme Court of India over the Godhra riot issue and the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) having rejected all allegations against Narendra Modi in the Gujarat riot cases , US had little option but to respect the verdict. Yet even then things in terms of a complete reversal of the American policy towards the NDA PM nominee would not have happened had it not been clear to US as to in which direction the wind is blowing.
There is no doubt that a certain section of the left leaning lobby in US have often tried hard to make sure that US does not soften its stand on Modi. In this respect even the actions of the Indian Government has been questionable given the manner in which it has always sort of tacitly endorsed the isolation of Modi by the US administration often failing to realise that political brownie points apart, this was a direct affront on India. Yet it was the same UPA which was up in arms against the same US Administration when the Devyani Khobragade incident happened, thereby exposing the double standards.
But the American U-turn having trashed aside all reservations and opposition reflects the American eagerness to not delay the inevitable anymore and also to make it clear perhaps that US continues to view India as a key ally which would only get enhanced in the future.
For US, a nation which has always been run more on realistic pragmatism than ideological delusions, expecting it to not react to the phenomenal ascent of Modi, just for the sake of keeping some lobbies happy, would have been too much to expect. US is too astute a player to not make the right moves before the political shifts happen in one of the most geopolitically critical nations of Asia.
Why India and Modi are Crucial for US in the Long Run...
There are several reasons why US would gradually continue to warm up to Modi. In the first place, it is a sort of confirmation of what the American thinking is right now. And no prize for guessing that the American thinking is close to confirmation that Modi led NDA would just be within the striking range of being elected to power in the forthcoming general elections. In every sense US would badly need India even as it repositions its priorities in the global affairs.
The Asian economic theatre is now the focal point of global economic paradigm with India continuing to be a very key player along with China, South Korea and Japan. With the situation in Middle East continuing to be in doldrums and the much hyped Arab Spring doing more harm than good over there, with China's fast paced military acquisitions coupled with unilateral ambitions creating possibilities of major face-offs in future, with the situation in the Af-Pak region continuing to be a major headache and would be a bigger one in the aftermath of American exit of Afganistan somewhere in 2014, US needs a decisive, strong and a no-nonsense India keen to play a bigger role in the Asian theatre.
To a great extent Modi's passion for creating a strong and a pragmatic India based on intrinsic value systems and embedded with modern economic approach suits US. Narendra Modi, if he eventually becomes the Prime Minister of India would be as important for US just as US has accepted the critical importance of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the global affairs in spite of differences on some key issues.
The Economic Factor- Modi's India would be too big For US to ignore...
The other important issue for which US simply cannot ignore India is essentially that of the Indian economy. In spite of major policy paralysis, issue of lack of governance and policy direction, a faltering growth rate and a recalcitrant high inflation regime, India continues to be one of the most crucial and major economies of the world and too big for anyone and especially for US to ignore.
Even though in the recent past, the falling value of the rupee did reduce the effective value of Indian GDP (real GDP $1.7 trillion) , in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), India continues to be the third largest economy of the world with a GDP nearing $ 5 trillion. There is also perhaps this expectation that with Modi at the helm of affairs, he may be able to revive the economy and take the growth rates near to 9-10% again. Given the manner the Gujarat economy has flourished under his stewardship for more than a decade now, US can ill afford to isolate India and Modi or Modi's India in future.
It is not the first US U-Turn- Remember the Post Nuclear Test Sanctions and their Withdrawal later on?
The American warming up to Modi is not a case in isolation or an exceptional case. In the past as well, especially after the nuclear tests conducted by Vajpayee Government in 1998, the Americans had imposed economic sanctions on India only to realise gradually how the Indian test was crucial for several reasons including the China factor and that India can be trusted as a responsible nuclear state with a stated no-first use policy. That feeling got further strengthened by the rogue act by the Pakistani Army resulting in the Kargil War and India's handling of the same with maturity without letting the localised conflict escalate into a nuclear nightmare.
Eventually the US Administration had to withdraw the economic sanctions and accept the rising stature of India. Later on, US declared India as a Natural Ally. With Europe faltering in general, US needs a rising India to fill much of the void.
Is this the Foundation of a New Relationship between US and India?
If all goes well and if Narendra Modi eventually becomes the Prime Minister of India, Nancy Powell's impending meeting with Narendra Modi would then perhaps be termed as the foundation laying act of a new relationship of more equitable partners US and India where India would be expected by US to play a more dynamic role in the changing paradigm of Asian and global affairs. Expectations, no doubt, are rising from Modi in the international arena as well. At least for now, that can be the only conclusion.