India Today

Coming Up Trumps

IF US president Donald Trump believes he owes his success to always thinking big, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does it by thinking even bigger. When Trump, who represents the world’s most powerful democracy, and Modi, who heads its most populous one, hugged each other at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad at a public event telecast live, the roar of the 130,000 people assembled there was heard not just in India, but also in the US and across the world. The meticulously choreographed welcome organised for Trump on his first state visit to India sent out a message that reams of official joint statements would never have been able to convey as effectively—that India and the US had firmly cemented what they now termed as a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.

The positive outcome of Trump’s two-day official visit was, in many ways, a triumph of Modi’s unique, highly personalised style of diplomacy and the pragmatic and decisive foreign policy he has advocated to secure India’s position as “the standard-bearer of the South”, as foreign minister S. Jaishankar put it. Modi has honed that quest into an art form since he became prime minister in 2014 and continues to do so in his second term. Trump not only acknowledged Modi as “an exceptional and terrific leader and a true friend”, but also said that “India is going to be a tremendous player—it already is—now. You can play an important leadership role in shaping a better future as you take on greater responsibility for solving problems and promoting peace throughout this incredible region”.

Dealing with Trump remains India’s toughest ask and, as the trip showed, Modi navigated the India-US relationship well. In office since January 2017, Trump has proven to be the world’s

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