Modi’s American Travels

Sep 29, 2014

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the United States this week. It’s his first visit since winning election as India’s political leader in May. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Narendra Modi’s trip to the United States has some unusual elements for a political visit. Yesterday, he spoke to a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden, using a rotating stage and a live video hookup in Times Square--with English subtitles. He’s in Washington today, where he’ll have a lunch meeting with Vice President Biden and a working dinner with President Obama.

But even those events are a bit different. Modi will be fasting during his visit, so his meals may be little more than hot water and honey. The Guardian counts more than 50 meetings, speeches, rallies and other gatherings Modi has scheduled before leaving. Aides say those include talks with more than a dozen corporate leaders, including CEO’s at Google and IBM as well as Boeing and Goldman Sachs.

Beyond business, Modi has had an active diplomatic agenda since taking office. The U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense have visited New Delhi in recent months. The president of China stopped there a couple of weeks ago, shortly after Modi returned from a trip to Japan. On the economic front, annual trade between the U.S. and India has now grown to nearly $100 billion. Vice President Biden says that could expand by a factor of five before the year 2020.