No one would mistake them for better of mates.
But U.S. President Joe Biden, the son of blue-collar Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who rose from tea vendor’s son to premier, have developed a relationship primarily based on mutual respect of their scrappy backgrounds and a pragmatism concerning the shared challenges their two international locations face.
Biden is internet hosting Modi for a state go to this week as he appears to be like to tighten his relationship with the chief of a nation of 1.4 billion that the U.S. administration sees as a pivotal power in Asia for many years to come back. The pomp-filled go to will mark the 2 leaders’ tenth in-person or digital engagement since Biden grew to become president in 2021. They’re anticipated to satisfy once more in September in India on the Group of 20 summit.
The U.S.-India relationship is difficult. There are deep variations over Russia’s struggle in Ukraine and India’s human rights document.
But the frequent engagement between the leaders is seen by each side as a mirrored image that, no matter their private dynamics, Biden and Modi see the U.S.-India relationship as a defining one within the face of an more and more assertive China and monumental challenges posed by local weather change, synthetic intelligence, provide chain resilience and different points.
“They get along well personally, but even more important, I think both realize it is in the interest of the U.S. and India to advance the relationship,” stated Arun Okay. Singh, a former Indian ambassador to the U.S. “For both Biden and Modi, there is a convergence of interests and you can see both leaders are invested personally in moving ties ahead.”
Biden and Modi have not developed the form of tight bond that former President Barack Obama had with Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh.
Singh was the primary chief that Obama honored with a state go to throughout his presidency. In his post-presidency memoir, “A Promised Land,” Obama heaped reward on the previous Indian premier as “wise, thoughtful, and scrupulously honest” and credited Singh because the “chief architect of India’s economic transformation.”
Nor will Biden and Modi be co-headlining raucous stadium rallies like Modi and former President Donald Trump did together in Houston and Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Trump likened Modi to Elvis Presley for his star appeal at a joint rally in Houston in September 2019 that drew about 50,000 to NRG Stadium. The two leaders more than doubled that crowd about five months later with a massive rally at a cricket stadium. In Ahmedabad, Modi praised Trump as a “unique friend of India” and Trump called Modi “an exceptional leader.”
Even with out huge rallies, although, the Biden White House says there’s nonetheless loads of proof that the U.S.-India relationship is rising.
Trade between the U.S. and India in 2022 climbed to a document $191 billion. Through the Quad, a global partnership of the U.S., Australia, India and Japan, the international locations launched a plan in 2021 to donate 1.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Indo-Pacific.
Earlier this yr, the 2 international locations launched the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies that units the trail for collaboration on semiconductor manufacturing, growing synthetic intelligence, and a loosening of export management guidelines that might permit U.S. protection contractors to switch essential know-how. U.S.-based General Electric is now awaiting approval from the administration to provide jet engines in India.
“I think with Biden you don’t have these explosive warmth moments,” stated Richard Rossow, chair of U.S.-India Policy Studies on the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “But the tenor and pace of engagement has escalated quite a bit.”
The two leaders — Biden, a center-left Democrat, and Modi, a Hindu nationalist main the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party — aren’t precisely minimize from the identical political fabric. Still, the leaders have linked over one another’s comparatively humble beginnings, in keeping with a senior Biden administration official.
The prime minister was the third of six kids born to Damodardas Modi, who ran a small tea store on the native railway station within the tiny city of Vadnagar, within the western state of Gujarat. The household struggled to make ends meet, which meant Modi had to assist his father run the store. Biden, who has been in elected workplace greater than half his life, usually speaks of his father’s personal struggles to keep up a foothold within the center class as shaping his personal worldview.
Both leaders appear to understand one another’s “scrappiness,” said the official who was not authorized to comment and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Biden-Modi relationship isn’t without tension. Biden last year publicly called India’s response to the war in Ukraine “shaky.” India abstained from voting on U.N. resolutions condemning Russia and refused to join the global coalition against Russia. Since the start of the war, the Modi government has also dramatically increased its purchase of Russian oil.
Human rights groups and press freedom advocates are also pressing Biden to publicly raise concerns with Modi about democratic backsliding in his country. Modi has faced criticism over legislation amending the country’s citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalization for some migrants but excludes Muslims, a rise in violence against Muslims and other religious minorities by Hindu nationalists, and the recent conviction of India’s top opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, for mocking Modi’s surname.
But in the leadup to the trip, Biden administration officials have sought to focus on the countries’ “shared values” and India’s essential position find options to among the largest issues dealing with the world.
“If you need to make a dent within the vitality transition, it’s not even remotely doable to do this with out India,” Amos Hochstein, a senior White House adviser, advised U.S. and Indian enterprise leaders at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering forward of Modi’s go to. Hochstein added, “I think what brings Prime Minister Modi and President Biden together is great ambition.”
Biden and Modi have had their lighter moments.
When Modi got here to Washington in September 2021, he introduced with him paperwork about individuals with the final identify “Biden” in India.
“Are we related?” Biden requested. Modi with out lacking a beat responded jokingly, “Yes.”
At the Group of Seven summit in Japan final month, Modi greeted Biden by wrapping him in a decent hug that grabbed headlines round India.
Nirupama Rao, a former Indian ambassador to the United States and China, says Modi has an “aptitude and a talent” for the softer expertise of politics. It’s one thing that the Indian premier and Biden share, she stated.
“This state visit, I think, affords an opportunity and provides the backdrop perhaps for Mr. Modi to develop a very good understanding with President Biden and vice versa for Mr. Biden,” Rao stated.
Pathi reported from New Delhi. AP journalist Tracy Brown in Washington contributed to this report.