Modi visit to US: Trump appearance signals importance of India


Five years ago, when Narendra Modi first stepped on US soil as India's prime minister to chants of his name and "Hail Mother India", many called it audacious.

The rock star reception at New York's Madison Square Garden resembled a victory lap for a leader who had been denied entry into the US for almost a decade.

This Sunday, the Indian leader will address a far bigger crowd of supporters at an event in Houston, Texas, and standing next to him will be the president of the United States - a visual that many believe will help Mr Modi shrug off some of the international criticism over his controversial move on Kashmir.


The event, aptly titled "Howdy, Modi!", is expected to attract a crowd of more than 50,000, the largest gathering of Modi supporters outside India, at the NRG Stadium.

The first-of-its-kind joint appearance is being hailed as a PR triumph for Mr Modi, but it also testifies to the growing importance of US-India relations.

"I think this was in some ways inevitable and reflects the strength of the Indian-American community," says Nisha Biswal, former Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

She says it's a good thing that the president has decided to go to Texas.


New York gives star treatment to Indian PM Modi

"This relationship now transcends individuals and it transcends politics," added Ms Biswal, who now heads the US-India Business Council.

The organisers, Texas India Forum, have tried to emphasise the bipartisan nature of the event by inviting prominent Democrats including the House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, several other Congressmen, US elected officials, and governors.

The choice of Houston as the spot for this rally is not surprising either.

India is Houston's fourth-largest trading partner and its growing energy demand is expected to further boost the sale of American oil and gas. For India, it's also an opportunity to bring down the trade deficit with the United States - a major issue for Mr Trump.

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