From ties, technology to trade: Narendra Modi, Joe Biden give new dimension to Indo-US partnership

·6 min read

The crucial bilateral meeting between US president Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi commenced on a warm note as both acknowledged the deep ties that the countries share.

The two leaders discussed a wide range of priority issues, including combating COVID-19, climate change and economic cooperation.

In the meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi redefined the contours of India-US ties through the 5Ts -- Tradition, Talent, Technology, Trade and Trusteeship.

Both Biden and Prime Minister Modi have spoken over the phone multiple times and have attended a few virtual summits, including that of the Quad in March hosted by the US president. The last telephone conversation between them took place on 26 April.

On Indo-US ties

Prime Minister Modi, who is visiting the US for the seventh time after assuming office in 2014, described Friday's bilateral summit with Biden as important as they're meeting at the start of the third decade of this century.

"Your leadership will certainly play an important role in how this decade is shaped. The seeds have been sown for an even stronger friendship between India and the US, Prime Minister Modi told Biden. Biden said the relationship between India and the US, largest democracies in the world, is "destined to be stronger, closer and tighter. "We are watching a new chapter in India-US ties, he added. Modi said this decade will be shaped by talent and people-to-people linkages. I am glad the Indian diaspora is making an active contribution towards the US' progress." During the meet Biden also said that US would celebrate Gandhi Jayanti, to which Prime Minister Modi said that Mahatma's 'trusteeship' concept would be important for the planet in times to come.

"This sentiment of trusteeship is going to assume more and more importance globally, but also between the relations between India and the United States, and it is these ideals that Padma Gandhi espoused when he talked about transition of the planet, and where the responsibility of global citizens is only going to go up," Modi added.

Trade and technology

Modi also noted that trade would be an important factor in Indo-US ties in the coming decade, that much had to be done in the area.

Earlier this month, the US embassy had tweeted that US-India trade in goods showed an increase of 40 percent in June 2021.

The US remained India's top trading partner for the second consecutive fiscal in 2019-20, which shows increasing economic ties between the two countries. According to the data of the commerce ministry, in 2019-20, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at $ 88.75 billion as against $87.96 billion in 2018-19.

Modi speaking to Biden said: "We find that the trade between our two countries are actually complimentary. There are things that you have and there are things that we have, and then we in fact complement each other. I find that the area of trade during this decade, that is also going to be tremendously important."

Modi also brought out the importance that technology would play in boosting ties. "The most important driving force in the world today, would be that of technology and the technology that is going to be for the service and for the use of humanity. I find that opportunities for this are going to be tremendous," Modi added.

COVID-19 and climate change

Modi also raised the topic of the coronavirus and praised Biden for his handling of the pandemic.

"After assuming change you have taken very unique initiatives on climate change, COVID-19 pandemic and Quad," Modi told Biden.

In July, the US announced an aid of $25 million from the Biden administration, through USAID, to support India's Covid-19 vaccination programme.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken while making the announcement had said that the funding will contribute to saving lives by strengthening vaccine supply chain logistics, addressing misinformation, vaccine hesitancy, and helping to train more health care workers.

"There are few relationships more vital than the one between India and the US. The COVID-19 disease has hit both countries very hard and the US will not forget the aid and assistance India provided early in the pandemic," Blinken had said.

When it comes to climate change, in April, the two leaders launched the India-US Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. The US pledged to cut emissions by 50 to 52 percent of its 2005 levels by 2030. This is double the 2015 goal set by former President Barack Obama.

Funny business!

US President Joe Biden also spoke about his possible India connection during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recalling a story about a man with the Biden surname writing to him when he was first elected as a senator in 1972.

Recalling the incident when he was in Mumbai as the US vice president in 2013, Biden said that he was asked about if he has any relatives in India.

"I said I'm not sure but when I was elected as a 29-year-old kid in 1972, before I was sworn in, I got a letter from a person named Biden, last name, from Mumbai. I was never able to follow up," he said.

He said that the next morning, the press told him that there were five Bidens living in India.

Elaborating more on this, Biden jokingly said, "There was a Captain George Biden in the East India tea company.

That is hard for an Irish person to admit. I shouldn't be so casual. I hope you are able to understand the humour. The end result was that he apparently stayed and married an Indian woman."

"I have never been able to track it down so the whole purpose of this meeting is to help me figure it out," Biden said, triggering laughter among those present in the meeting room, including Prime Minister Modi.

After sharing a few laughs, Modi retorted to Biden that he had brought along a set of documents. "Maybe we'll be able to take this matter market forward, and maybe those documents could be of use to you," the prime minister said.

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With inputs from agencies

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