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How Prime Minister Modi’s Historic Third Term Will Impact India’s Relations With the United States

How Prime Minister Modi’s Historic Third Term Will Impact India’s Relations With the United States

  • While challenges remain, the strategic importance of U.S.-India relations under Modi’s leadership cannot be overstated.

The reelection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India marks a significant moment in the historically tumulus relations between the world’s two largest democracies. Modi’s leadership has seen a deepening of U.S.-India ties, and his continued tenure is expected to further solidify this strategic partnership.

The ramifications of Modi’s reelection on the United States span economic, geopolitical, and defense sectors, each critical to maintaining global stability and advancing mutual interests. Further, on a human-interest level, the election of the son of a poor railway station tea vendor, to the head of the fifth largest economy in the world, gives hope of advancement to every child from the humblest background in both countries and restores everyone’s faith in the process of democratic elections.

Economic Implications

One of the most pronounced effects of Modi’s reelection on the United States lies in economic ties. Under Modi’s leadership, India has emerged as a pivotal player in the global economy. The U.S. and India have seen a marked increase in bilateral trade, with goods and services exchanged reaching over $145 billion in recent years. 

Modi’s focus on economic reforms and his “Make in India” initiative aim to transform India into a global manufacturing hub. This initiative provides lucrative opportunities for U.S. companies looking to diversify their manufacturing bases away from China, especially in sectors like technology, pharmaceuticals, and defense. 

Additionally, Modi’s emphasis on digital infrastructure aligns well with the interests of U.S. tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Driven by the country’s large resource of highly educated engineers and a massive consumer base of a digital-savvy youthful population, these companies have been expanding their investments in India.

 Continued collaboration in areas like 5G technology, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity will likely be bolstered by Modi’s reelection, creating a symbiotic relationship that benefits both nations economically.

Geopolitical Dynamics

Geopolitically, Modi’s reelection is poised to reinforce the U.S.-India alliance, particularly in the context of countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The United States has long viewed India as a key partner in its Indo-Pacific strategy, aimed at ensuring a free and open region. 

Modi’s strong stance against Chinese aggression, demonstrated during border conflicts in the Himalayas, aligns with U.S. interests in promoting regional stability and countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, which includes the U.S., India, Japan, and Australia, is a testament to this strategic alignment. Modi’s leadership has been instrumental in revitalizing the Quad, transforming it from a loose consultative group into a more cohesive strategic partnership. 

The Quad’s activities, ranging from joint military exercises to collaborations on vaccine distribution and climate change, underscore its growing importance. Modi’s continued leadership ensures that India remains a steadfast partner in these efforts, thereby enhancing U.S. influence in the region.

Defense and Security Cooperation

Defense and security cooperation between the U.S. and India is another critical area that will be impacted by Modi’s reelection. Over the past decade, India has emerged as a major defense partner for the United States, with defense trade increasing significantly.

Modi’s administration has overseen several key defense foundational agreements, such as the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) – August 2016, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) – September 2018, and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation, or BECA – October 2020, which facilitate greater interoperability and cooperation between the two nations’ armed forces. 

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Furthermore, growth in numerous joint military exercises, such as the Malabar naval exercise, have grown in scale and complexity under Modi’s tenure. These exercises enhance the operational readiness of both militaries and are crucial for maintaining maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. 

Modi’s focus on modernizing India’s military and diversifying its defense procurement away from traditional suppliers like Russia to include more U.S. equipment will likely accelerate, fostering a deeper strategic partnership.

While Modi’s reelection heralds a continuation and potentially an intensification of the robust partnership between the United States and India, some challenges need to be addressed. Modi’s assertive policies, particularly those related to social and religious issues, have drawn criticism domestically and internationally.  

Moreover, trade negotiations have sometimes been contentious, with disputes over tariffs and market access. Modi’s government has shown a willingness to protect domestic industries, which occasionally conflicts with U.S. trade interests. Resolving these issues will require careful diplomacy and a willingness to find mutually beneficial solutions.

While challenges remain, the strategic importance of U.S.-India relations under Modi’s leadership cannot be overstated. For the United States, Modi’s reelection represents a reaffirmation of India as a crucial ally in an increasingly multipolar world.

(Top photo, Narendra Modi / Facebook.)

Mandar A. Pattekar MD is a retired physician, community organizer, and a volunteer Hindu spiritual care provider.

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The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
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