External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has rightly noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent trip to the United States was the most productive one in the history of any Indian Prime Minister’s visit to that country. While former PM Manmohan Singh’s 2005 visit to the States, which saw the signing of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, was of immense historic significance as well, the one by PM Modi last month ticked many more boxes. In other words, it was successful on multiple fronts.
Firstly, the Prime Minister’s June 20-24 visit also led to some momentous deals being struck between the two counties in the fields of strategic defence and semiconductor production. These will give India the ability to co-produce jet engines and armed SeaGuardian drones, among other high-technology ammunition. Apart from being a clear reflection of the rising trust and common interests between India and the US, these deals are poised to boost not only India’s defence capabilities and security infrastructure, but also its credentials as a worthy partner in advanced technology collaborations.
Just as importantly, Prime Minister Modi did a fantastic job of showcasing India’s cultural heritage and diversity and projecting his nation’s global leadership position as a spiritual democracy where an incredibly diverse range of religious and philosophical belief systems have co-existed in harmony for centuries and continue to do so even today. The sight of our Prime Minister leading over 175 nations in performing yoga at the United Nations on International Yoga Diwas was symbolic of India’s well-established credentials as a beacon of peace and hope that can guide other nations in a world full of strife.
Therefore, when Prime Minister Modi spoke to the US Senate about India’s longstanding commitment to democratic values, plurality and inclusivity, it rang true and resonated deeply with not just his audience there but across the international community. Once and for all, he was able to convincingly dismantle the ill-intentioned and mindless rhetoric about democracy and Muslims being in danger in India.
The success of PM Modi’s visit has sent a clear message to China that it would need to think harder than ever before moving ahead with any of its expansionist designs in the Indo-Pacific region. It has also sent a signal to BJP’s rival parties that Washington expects him to retain power after the 2024 elections.
Moving on, the push for a Uniform Civil Code that the Prime Minister has made not long after returning from his two-nation visits to the US and Egypt has become unsurprisingly controversial. As expected, the Congress-led opposition is accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of playing divisive politics and digressing from more important issues such as unemployment and corruption in a bid to win upcoming state assembly elections this year and the big battle in 2024.
However, it is not too difficult to see that the Prime Minister is coming from a place of compassion and reason when he is calling for the UCC’s implementation. Apart from the fact that the UCC has been envisioned in the Constitution and the Supreme Court has also called for its implementation, it is impossible to refute the Prime Minister’s statement that those opposed to the medieval and draconian system of triple talaq are against the welfare and well-being of Muslim women. If that was not the case, why have so many Muslim-majority countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Morocco (just to name a few) strictly banned it?
Never mind what former US President Obama tried to sell so sneakily – feigning concerns about communal harmony in India – during PM Modi’s visit to the US. The world, particularly India, will not be buying.