Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was a persona non grata for the United States of America since the 2002 Gujarat riots, is all set to be the guest of Washington in September.
From Devyani Khobragade row to India`s refusal to sign the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and American surveillance on the BJP, there have been a number of irritants in India-US ties in the recent times. Both the countries also have fundamental differences over current global crises, such as Ukraine and Israel-Gaza conflict. In such circumstances, it will be interesting to note how the Prime Minister`s much-awaited meeting with US President Barack Obama unfolds in September.
In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora of Zee Media, Sumit Ganguly, an expert on US-India ties, discusses PM Modi`s upcoming visit to the US.
Sumit Ganguly holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and is the Director of the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University, Bloomington.
Kamna: How can PM Modi use his visit to re-energise bilateral ties and narrow the differences with the US?
Mr Ganguly: He (PM Modi) can do so by forthrightly addressing some Indian concerns: the perennial H-1B visa issue, the matter of India`s position at the WTO and why he chose to call off talks with Pakistan. He should also address legitimate US concerns about market access to India, about the draconian nuclear liability bill and about retrospective taxation. He should also provide some clarity about Indian defence acquisition plans, especially the possible co-production of the Javelin anti-tank missile.
Kamna: How did the US read PM Narendra Modi`s invitation to SAARC leaders to attend his oath-taking ceremony?
Mr Ganguly: The US saw it as a very positive symbolic gesture. The US will wait and see how India follows up on that initiative.
Kamna: Do you think the United States is India`s reliable security partner as far as pushing Pakistan to prevent terrorist plots from incubating on its soil is concerned.
Mr Ganguly: Not so far; the US position has been ambivalent. However, with the impending drawdown of the ISAF from Afghanistan, India is now in a better position to induce the US to more forthrightly address its concerns. Also, instead of bleating about Pakistan to the US, it would be far, far more useful for India to start bolstering its own counter-terrorism capabilities.
Kamna: What does the future hold for US-India ties under PM Narendra Modi?
Mr Ganguly: Much depends on what signals he (Modi) sends out at his meeting with Obama and on how preoccupied the Obama administration remains with domestic issues and various global crises.