India and U.S. share democratic values on democracy, diversity: PM Modi ahead of state vis...

India and U.S. share democratic values on democracy, diversity: PM Modi ahead of state visit

PM Modi, who is making his sixth visit to the U.S. as Prime Minister, will be hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden for his first official state visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington this week will reinforce shared democratic “values” between India and the United States, he said as he left for New York and Washington, and said that the  “there is an unprecedented trust” between the two countries today. 

Mr. Modi, who is making his sixth visit to the U.S. as Prime Minister, will be hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden for his first official state visit and said he will meet the U.S. leadership, members of Congress, American CEOs, and members of the Indian-American community during the visit, that will focus on enhancing trade and energy, collaborations in science & technology, education, and health, and is expected to yield a number of agreements on defence ties including deals for jet engines and drones.

“I am confident that my visit to the US will reinforce our ties based on shared values of democracy, diversity and freedom. Together we stand stronger in meeting the shared global challenges,” Mr. Modi said in his departure statement on Tuesday. 

Mr. Modi will begin his visit to New York with meetings with about 24 “CEOs and Thought leaders” that include Tesla founder and Twitter CEO  Elon Musk, Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson and singer Falguni Shah among others.

On Wednesday he will participate in a Yoga event at the site of where “India’s proposal in December 2014 to recognize an International Day of Yoga” was accepted, Mr. Modi said. 

PM Modi will also lay flowers at a bust of Mahatma Gandhi installed at the United Nations last year. Officials said discussions were on about the site of an upcoming Memorial wall for fallen United Nations peacekeepers, but it was unclear if that is on Mr. Modi’s agenda at the U.N. Last week, India proposed the resolution to build the memorial wall, which was co-sponsored by 190 countries including China and Pakistan, and adopted by the UN General Assembly.

Mr. Modi’s visit is also expected to face some protests from human rights activists and a section of the Indian-American diaspora during his visit to New York and Washington. On Tuesday, international groups Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International are screening the BBC documentary banned in India called “India: The Modi Question” on the PM’s record during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

In an interview to the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal released on Tuesday, Mr. Modi defended his government against accusations of religious polarisation and human rights violations. 

“For thousands of years, India has been the land where people of all faiths and beliefs have found the freedom to coexist peacefully and prosper,” Mr. Modi said in a “statement”, the Wall Street Journal said while reporting on the interview. “You will find people of every faith in the world living in harmony in India,” he added in the interview where he hailed India-U.S. ties as based on “unprecedented trust” and called defence cooperation “an important pillar” of the relationship.

PM Modi’s U.S. visit, which marks a “milestone” in ties, according to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra has also been marked by a number of features profiling India in international media. The latest issue of the Economist, which includes an interview with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, is titled “America’s New Best Friend”, features a cover picture portraying Joseph Biden as the American Tiger zoo owner Joe “Exotic” with a tiger next to him, indicating India. 

“I think what you will see next week is a public and visible expression of the state of the relationship between India and the United States, which is very good, which is getting better by the day, which is getting more consequential by the day,” Dr. Jaishankar said in the interview, adding that the “unmistakable message” of Mr. Modi’s visit would be that the India-US relationship is “on the right track and moving forward very, very rapidly”.

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