Mr. Modi Goes to Washington

Mr. Modi Goes to Washington

Why you should care

Because depending on how Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama work together, we could be about to see a new sort of friendship on the horizon. One that shapes geopolitics.

Today, India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues on a diplomatic hot streak as he visits the White House to sit down with President Barack Obama. Just last week found him in the company of China’s Xi Jinping. Here’s what you should know about this historic visit — and why you should care about something that might seem like a mere handshake occasion.

Not long ago, Modi wasn’t even allowed to enter the United States

Prime Minister Modi, whose Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept into power in the spring, was denied a U.S. visa for the last nine years because of suspicions around his role in anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat state in 2002, when he was chief minister there. By the way — it turns out this is a common strategy used by the U.S. government against leaders it’s not a fan of. Read more about famous world leaders’ travel woes here.

Modi himself continues to be controversial, but many believe he’s a boon for big biz

Chief among the controversies is the riots and his role in them. But for those who support him, the hot topic is his plan to deregulate the Indian economy and encourage big biz to boom. OZY contributor and bi-continental businessman Prashant Agrawal writes that Modi could mean boons for infrastructure, manufacturing and even environmental protection. But getting his agenda through requires that he succeed with his “public-private partnership” model, a style of getting sh*t done that may not yield all that Indians hope it will. Uniting government with corporate innovation, reports OZY’s Michael Edison Hayden from Mumbai, will likely be a challenge for Modi.

Modi often speaks of the large Indian-American diaspora as all part of the Indian nation

And that diaspora is divided. Although he spoke to a crowd of 20,000 Indian Americans at Madison Square Garden yesterday, he’s controversial among many left-of-center Indian-Americans. And Indian-Americans are frequently leaning further and further left, reports OZY’s Pooja Bhatia.

All we can say is that it promises to be a spaghetti bowl of diplomacy ahead.

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