Many of the reports on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US are breathless and ignorant, and in some instances verge on the ridiculous. In part, this has to do with how Modi is perceived by his numerous bhakts — and there is no dearth of such ‘devotees’ in the media. On the other hand, his energy and at times over-the-top style results in a sensory overload and in one missing the wood for the trees.
Then, of course, is the twist that comes with state visits — they have to be huge successes and so incremental advance is projected as a breakthrough. Phrases like ‘indispensable partner’, ‘priority partner’ and so on are used liberally in joint statements to dramatise the effect.
So it is with the US visit. In substance, what it achieved was all-round advance in issues ranging from climate change, clean energy, civil nuclear and defence cooperation to science and technology, cyber security and intelligence sharing. But to be honest, there was no one area that stood out and in which a real breakthrough was achieved.
Modi is being credited with things he didn’t do. For instance, take the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), to which India is gaining entry thanks to the Supreme Court, which allowed the Italian marine charged with murder to go home, pending his trial. In response to the court’s order, the Italian government lifted its hold on India’s ascension to the MTCR. Claims that Modi’s visit will now lead to cutting-edge weaponry coming to India are equally misleading.