CHENNAI: As the meeting betwen Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US president Donald Trump makes headlines in the country, a few US-based publications have made some interesting observations about this much awaited meet.
Washington Post made a pointed reference to the Indian Prime Minister’s pitch for digital media while at the same time cracking down on internet services when trouble flared up regionally.
In an editorial the newspaper said, “We have another question for Mr. Modi: How does he plan to implement his vision of a “Digital India” when local Indian authorities are increasingly clamping down on Internet and telecommunications access across the country?
“According to the Software Freedom Law Center, state governments in India have taken to suspending broadband or mobile Internet services across districts for hours or even days at a stretch. The organization has recorded 81 separate incidents in which authorities have restricted Internet access since 2012. This number has risen markedly in the past year, with 22 shutdowns in 2017 and four in the first week of June alone.”
The Washington Post in another article said that the meet could be a ‘potential minefield’. The newspaper said, “Expectations for the meeting are so low that many India-watchers in Washington say Modi's best-case scenario might be simply reminding Trump that their countries share numerous interests, especially in combating so-called radical Islamic terror. Or, better still, the two might connect on a personal level, possibly preventing further public outbursts of derision from Trump.” They quoted author and economist Rajiv Kumar saying, “They could either hit it off amazingly or fall out completely. They’re both strong personalities, and both of them have a rather exalted opinion of themselves.”
The Los Angeles Times noted that the Indo-US relationship is likely headed for turbulence in the days ahead. “(Donald Trump and Narendra Modi) have more social media followers than any world leaders on earth. But beyond the personalities, there are signs that the US-India partnership - which grew closer under the Obama administration on issues such as climate change - could be headed for rougher waters,” the newspaper reported.
Among the issues that stick out, LA Times said, is the immigration issue, or rather as India sees it, the H1B issue. The newspapers’ columnists Shashank Bengali and Noah Bierman wrote, “India is not in Trump’s crosshairs like Mexico. But in April, Trump fired a warning shot by announcing a review of the H-1B visa program under which up to 65,000 skilled workers - many of them computer engineers from India -- enter the U.S. annually."
“Still, analysts don’t expect Modi -- a notorious glad-hander who famously bear-hugged Obama -- to confront Trump over immigration. It would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull,” the newspaper quoted Dhruva Jaishankar, a fellow at the Brookings India think-tank in New Delhi, as saying.
The TIME magazine in an article pointed out that Modi should not do ‘anything that might upset Trump’. The magazine said, “As they depart the U.S. after the meeting, Modi’s officials will be keeping a close eye on Twitter to make sure that the President doesn’t foil their plans for a controversy-free trip.” The magazine quoted Dhruv Jaishankar, saying, “Trump has this habit, sometimes even after a bilateral meeting has gone well, of a parting shot. He did this with [China’s] Xi Jinping, he did this with [Germany’s Chancellor Angela] Merkel. You can see for example a meeting that goes well, Modi gets on a plane to head out and Trump tweets something about, you know, ‘Great meeting with Modi but India needs to reduce its tariffs and stop taking money on climate change,’ or something like that.”
The Global Times US Edition in an opinion article said that Modi sought partnership not alliance with US. The newspaper indicating that the meet might not be great consequence, said, “India is neither an ally nor rival to the US. The Washington-New Delhi relationship is not as close as US-NATO ties, where spat often occured in two-way cooperation, and not as strained as its relation with China and Russia which are saddled with strategic competition and confrontation. Therefore Trump administration hasn’t given much priority to its ties with India."