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4-min read

PM Modi in USA: Less hype this time, may get some investment and attention

When he first came to the USA in September 2014 to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he was given a rousing welcome by the Indian community in the USA.


Updated:September 23, 2015, 1:42 PM IST
PM Modi in USA: Less hype this time, may get some investment and attention
When he first came to the USA in September 2014 to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he was given a rousing welcome by the Indian community in the USA.

(Dr Mahendra S Kanthi is a well known international economist. He has been in the USA since 1969. He taught Economics at several prestigious Universities across America over four decades. He has also worked for the United Nations, World Bank and US Administration. He is considered an authority on free trade and economic liberalisation. He is currently a Professor Emeritus at the Saginaw Valley State University, USA)

New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is arriving in the United States of America (USA) for the second time in the last one year. When he first came to the USA in September 2014 to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) after he rode to power by decimating the ruling Congress and other smaller parties in May 2014 Parliament elections, he was given a rousing welcome by the Indian community in the USA. His public meeting at New York’s famous Madison Square Garden (MSG) made it to the headlines. It was followed by the US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January.

But, a lot has happened in the last one year and the situation is somewhat different. If you ask me to put it in one word about the expected reception by the US administration, I say, “familiarity breeds contempt”. You can’t do the same things and say the same words every time. I don’t think that the reception would be the same this time. There is no hype this time. Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are facing some real problems. The most important one is NRI taxation and declaration of assets. I was told that the government of India is contemplating a law or an act in this regard. Modi must address these issues first. Another big issue is Pakistan. Pakistan is still close to the USA and remains its strategic partner in South Asia. The USA has given some helicopters to us. But, it has given much more important things to Pakistan. What Pakistan got from the USA is highhanded military equipments. Handling Pakistan is not going to be an easy thing for him.


The Prime Minister is talking about his ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme. But, it is easier said than done. We don’t have the advantages our most powerful neighbour China has. In China, the cost of labour and cost of production are much cheaper than India. The real estate value is lower and the land acquisition is not a problem there. Modi might ease red-tapism in New Delhi. What about rest of India? How will he make state governments to end or at least ease red-tapism? After all India is a Federal Nation. States have their laws and priorities. I don’t think that India won’t be able to beat China in manufacturing sector. Modi is also facing the problem of being seen as a majoritarian ruler and not a consensus builder. At least his critics say so. His predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh was a consensus builder. He somehow managed tricky issues. In a democracy consensus is very important.

Visit to California

I am sure Modi will receive good attention in California, which has the highest number of Indians. California is home to Silicon Valley. He will be received well there. He may be able to convince some of the American Software giants to invest in India. The Indian community in California is also excited about his visit. Except Nehru and PVN Rao, no other Indian Prime Minister has visited California in the past. But, his visit to Facebook headquarters and a meeting with its founder Mark Zuckerberg may not yield any results. I think it will just be a photo-op.

US Media and Modi

One thing is sure, Modi will be receiving the good attention in the West Coast of the USA. Indians will come in large numbers. But, the USA media may not give him much publicity. Because they are busy with the Primaries for the US Presidential election, due next year. Secondly, they are more interested in the President of China Xi Jinping, who is also arriving for the UNGA. The US media is more interested in the Chinese leadership as they have more economic interest there. But, one thing can help Modi. The USA has put China in doubtful category. Because the Chinese are doing a lot spying all over America. They have now been exposed and their true colours are out. It has angered the Americans. It can help India to get something from the USA. However, I doubt that Modi will make it to the Prime Time news in the evening.

Same template won’t work

PM Modi follows the same template wherever he goes. Be it UAE or USA. He creates a huge hype and addresses the Indian community at huge stadiums or public parks. He will be doing the same this time too. It may not work every time. But Modi inspires Indian community wherever he goes. He talks of a reformation and change. These words always attract the people. People like change. He connects very well.

But, talks should be translated into action. Otherwise it will be of no use.

(The article is the author's personal view and does not not reflect the stand of CNN-IBN/IBNLive)

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