Executive editor of CNN-News 18
What’s the big deal about the PMOI and POTUS coming together on one stage? Who achieves what through this gig? These were the crucial questions CNN-News18 posed to a range of individuals inside and outside the giant NRG Stadium in Houston. Turns out, they weren’t all that crucial. Because ‘Howdy, Modi!’ wasn’t just about rich Gujarati NRIs managing to get their favourite son on their Texan soil. It was about Narendra Modi writing a new language on the Indian diplomacy and political front.
You had to be inside the stadium to feel the electricity of the massive change Modi is bringing – change in terms of how the world sees India and how India sees the world. His act of holding President Donald Trump by the hand and then mingling with the crowd that went totally berserk shows just how much Prime Minister Modi invests himself in building personal ties. A few weeks ago, he was on a boat ride with Vladimir Putin. That too was described as a great example of the personal rapport which exists between the two leaders. And now the trending hashtag has switched to #ModiTrumpDosti.
As Trump broke convention of US presidents always speaking on a stage which has American flags in the background and actual sat in the audience listening to Modi’s “wisdom, which he has lots of” – as he had himself remarked – it became clear that India has now taken several steps towards parity with America in relations.
No more bowing to the Big Brother and a totally acquiesced approach for Modi. Yes, there is a gap of several trillion dollars in the economies of the two democracies. But Modi has given a clear mission statement. He is willing to bend a bit, only to ensure that he gets that much extra from the person before him.
As the two leaders showered each other with praise – from the prime minister describing the POTUS as the perfect person to return to power to Trump terming Modi a great man and his personal friend – any uncertainty around Kashmir, Article 370 and Pakistan was largely forgotten. So much so that Trump used phrases like “radical Islamic terror” and “nation’s right to protect its borders” in his speech.
The message dawned on everyone. Neither Modi nor Trump named Pakistan. But both leaders didn’t leave much to the imagination about which nation they were talking about. The support from Trump, if indeed carried out in letter and spirit, will go a long way in rewriting the terms of engagement with Pakistan.
At the end of the day, Modi and Trump will both feel victorious about the Texas meet. If this relationship between two of the biggest democracies really flowers, the entire global order could witness a shift. And a lion’s share of the credit for that, without a doubt, will go to Prime Minister Modi.