When the world’s greatest democracy, the United States, hosts the leader of the world’s largest democracy, India, the American electorate may witness a growing list of milestones between the two nations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host President Donald Trump at a rally in Houston on Sept. 22. The sold-out event should see 50,000 pack Houston’s NRG Stadium.
The visit occurs on the heels of a joint commitment between India and the United States to “strengthen bilateral and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six U.S. nuclear power plants in India,” according to a joint statement.
India continues to be a major global consumer of energy, as the third-largest purchaser of oil and consumer of other energy products the U.S. can sell. This substantive step forward develops positive conditions for India and America’s future as some of the globe’s leading powers seek to rewrite the framework of international politics post-WWII.
U.S.-Indian joint cooperation will play an important role in protecting and advancing America’s interests into the future amid a challenge by more totalitarian states to the global preeminence of democracies. The United States and India have several near and long term joint interests: countering various aspects of malign tactics employed in China’s economic expansionism, meaningfully growing its role in allying with the United States, Japan, South Korea, and other nations in establishing a sustainable peace with North Korea, moderating and managing its future relationship with a Russia that is increasingly hostile to the United States, NATO, and democracies generally.
In the near term, the United States seeks peace in Afghanistan. India can play a constructive role. Pakistan’s calculus for its Afghanistan policy, including its support of the Taliban and allowing a safe haven on its territory, has long included how it perceives threats India poses to Pakistan’s long term survival.
The importance of India working on a more positive relationship with Pakistan will bear consequence to future stability among some of the world’s greatest nuclear powers with China and Russia positioned relatively close to Pakistan and India. The United States has an interest in more constructive relations between India and Pakistan on various aspects of regional policies.
Generally, our future outlook involves considering whether democracies that cherish freedom, global stability and human rights will lead our world, or totalitarian governments that seek to upend international norms and bring democracies down around the world. India is an imperfect but rare democracy in a region of the world in which Russia and China aim to deepen their spheres of influence.
The cause of democracy will be very much on Trump’s mind when Modi visits. The image of the two world leaders sharing a stage in Houston will resonate across the United States. The 2020 elections may prove to be as close as the 2016 elections that put Trump into the White House. There are now an estimated 2.8 million Indians living in the United States. Indian-Americans have successfully taken to the American dream and way of life.
The Indian education system’s emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics have made Indian immigrants highly sought-after in the thriving U.S. technology sector. In 2013, India and China surpassed even Mexico as immigrants arriving legally in the United States.
Without question, given India’s strengths at home, Indians are emigrating to America because they share American values and see the United States as welcoming them to a new and bright future. Indian-Americans, like other descendants of South & Central Asia like Pakistani-Americans, Bengali-Americans, and Afghan-Americans are models for broadly successful immigration stories.
The prominence of Indian-Americans has risen along with their immigration to America. In addition to business leadership, philanthropic and academic achievements, Indian-Americans are making headway in American politics as well. Nikki Haley, the child of Indian immigrant parents, was twice elected governor of South Carolina, one of the most conservative states in the union.
Prior to being elected the first female governor of the Palmetto State, Haley served in both the South Carolina Statehouse and the United States Congress. Haley has built her career on being an outspoken conservative and proud defender of American history and capitalism. President Trump elevated former Gov. Haley to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a position she served with honor. She distinguished herself standing up for the values of freedom and democracy in that body, which is too often dominated by dictatorships and their satellite states.
While Indian-Americans have tended to lean left in voting, Haley’s success in South Carolina and her and President Trump’s close relationship has shown Indian voters they can be perfectly at home anywhere on the political spectrum. Indian-Americans’ self-reliance, strong family values and entrepreneurial spirit could make them natural GOP voters well beyond 2020 but their contributions to America are undeniable no matter their political affiliations. Indian-Americans could generally become a crucial swing voter bloc.
Trump and Modi have every reason to strike up a strong and mutually beneficial friendship. Both are encountering challenges of domestic politics that go with leading strong democratic nations, and both have big ideas for their nations’ role in geopolitics.
India needs more clean energy — Texas natural gas can provide it. America needs skilled workers and a market for our energy products — India can provide them. India and the United States have mutual strategic interests not just in Asia, but worldwide.
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