US President Donald Trump’s visit to India has underlined two important things. First is the existence of a multi-faceted deep partnership between the two countries. Second, this partnership is yet to achieve its potential.
For a US president who views international relations as primarily transactional, the speech at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad was uncharacteristic of Trump. He emphasised the strategic relationship that Indian and American leaders have sought for years.
At a time when the United States’ relations with many of its allies seem troubled, Washington, even under the Trump administration, continues to signal that New Delhi remains its strategic partner of choice in Asia.
The Trump visit was, as expected, high on pomp, show, and symbolism beginning with the visit to Sabarmati Ashram, Mahatma Gandhi’s abode for decades. It was followed by Modi and Trump’s speeches at Motera Stadium, and then a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
That Trump paid tribute to his friend Modi instead of writing anything about Gandhi in the Sabarmati guestbook reflects his relatively superficial approach. But his Motera speech, written by professionals, highlighted three key aspects of the India-US relationship: shared values, economic potential, and strategic prospects.
The speech was aimed at pleasing an Indian audience with references to the country’s unique experiment with democracy, its economic potential, and its civilisational heritage.