Obama greets Modi in Gujarati, Kem Che!

  • Modi impresses America
  • Has dinner with US president
  • Breakfast with corporate honchos
  • Swears to liberalise Indian economy
  • Dinner diplomacy yields rich dividends

Washington, September 30: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accorded a warm welcome by the US President Barack Obama when the former visited White House for dinner on Monday. Obama greeted Modi with “Kem Che”, a Gujarati for “Hello”.

The dinner diplomacy that Obama and Modi launched appears to have brought the two countries closer. Meeting a foreign dignitary twice in one visit at the While House is rare and Modi was given a special treatment by Obama by meeting him twice on consecutive days, on 29th and 30th of September.

For a person who was denied a visa to visit the US in 2005 on the grounds of human rights for the communal riots that took place in his home state of Gujarat three years earlier, the red carpet welcome he got in his trip to the US as India’s Prime Minister is a reversal of tidings for Modi.

Modi gifted Obama with a copy of Bhagavat Gita and a tape of the speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. The book on Gita contains Mahatma Gandhi’s interpretation of the celestial song.

The dinner at White House was attended by India’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Foreign Secretary John Kerry beside the US Vice President Joe Biden. The US First Lady was absent.

In a joint statement after the dinner the heads of state said, “They would work together on a transformational relationship as trusted partners.” The US is very keen on expanding the business and security ties with India. It wants India to grow as a counterbalance to the increasingly belligerent China in Asia. Modi and Obama have declared that they would work towards reducing the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction. They would jointly work to increase jobs and enhance the quality of life of their citizens.

There are a number of areas in which India and the US do not see eye to eye. For instance, India refused to follow the suggestion given by the US that Iran should be boycotted. India continues to import oil from Iran even today. India did not vote on the same lines as the US in the UN on a number of occasions. But still India and US have many common aspects to build on. Obama has reiterated his support to India in its bid to become permanent member of US security council. Writing a joint editorial is a concept which is offered to close allies by the US. Obama and Modi have decided to write joint editorial. India is important for the US for strategic reasons and the US is most important for India for strategic and economic reasons. Both the countries realize this commonality and hence the “Modi Meets America” hype.

Corporate honchos assured of liberal regime

Earlier in the day, Narendra Modi met with 11 CEOs of US companies. He expressed his resolve to further liberalise Indian economy by removing cobwebs of corruption and red tape. American CEOs expressed their reservations and fears of doing business with India. They said the most troubling roadblock in India is in the path of acquisition of land. Modi had cleared most of their doubts. He said India is open-minded. “We want change that is not one sided. I have been discussing about it with citizens, industrialists and investors”, said Indian Prime Minister.

Modi assured the corporate honchos that there would be no retrospective taxes. He also promised to clean the past and lay the path for a clean present and future. He said he would take advantage of the Supreme Court rulings in recent times indicting governments and people in power. He would treat the rulings of the apex court as opportunities to create a clean and proactive administration. Modi said infrastructure development is a big opportunity. The CEOs were given tea packets from Tea Board of India as gifts by the PM.

The CEOs appeared to have been impressed by the way the PM answered their questions and cleared their doubts. It was a very positive way of responding to genuine misgivings. “He was not at all like all the other politicians we are used to hear”, said Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Dout Oberhelman, according to Reuters.

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