1st letter 11-1

Indian Americans cheer as President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend "Howdy, Modi!" at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sept. 22, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Modi provides a refreshing contrast to international relations during the Nehru dynasty era. Modi has mastered the art of high level diplomacy. His diplomatic skills and personality have transformed India’s foreign policy fulfilling the self interest of India. In building close relations with the heads of state, he has formulated his personal strategy to work with the leaders of the Indian diaspora in the USA, Canada, U.K., Japan, Singapore, Australia, South Africa and the Middle Eastern countries.

Though the Indian diaspora are loyal to the countries they have settled they are displaying love of India and to its prime minister. The “Howdy Mody” spectacular event drawing 50,000 Indian Americans in Houston became an epoch-making event because Modi invited President Trump as his guest.

The Indian diaspora has organized rallies for Modi in various locations of the world and through their loyalty and political strength, Modi was able to create his own style of diplomacy. As a result, the diplomats in foreign embassies were just onlookers or honored guests at these Indian diaspora sponsored events.

We have seen that Prime Minister Modi has been highly successful in initiating, developing and nurturing personal relationships with heads of state. The photographs showing body language are a testament to his personality and likeability. Thus, he is creating not only his personal image but also reinforcing the image of India and the Indians through his diaspora. What Modi has achieved is quite novel because this was never done before.

President Trump was the first president of the U.S. to offer “closest ally” status to India on a par with the U.K. His words have been matched by deeds. Both India and the U.S. have been working together in defense, space, etc. The U.S. has offered to transfer 100% of all its technologies. India never enjoyed such a preferential treatment.

It was reported that Foreign Minister Jaishankar stayed in Washington, D.C. after the “Howdy Mody” event to attend the India-US Strategic Partners meeting. Failure of Indian diplomats to convince Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna of California made him join the Pakistan Caucus in Congress, which Indian Americans are protesting. This is disgrace for India and very disappointing. Khanna, along with Congresswoman Jayapal of Washington state, ganged up and convinced the Congress to sponsor and adopt a resolution against India on Kashmir.

There are approximately 100 Indian diplomats in the U.S. working in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and the Indian Mission to the U.N. These diplomats should be cultivating every elected official to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Dinners and cocktail parties are no substitute to educating and tutoring about India’s policies to the elected officials.

In Public Relations, P stands for Performance. R stands for Reporting. Though Prime Minister Modi performs at his highest levels, his diplomats and bureaucrats are failing India. Is there a brief fact sheet on Kashmir? If so, was it handed personally to each and every elected official? Does the Indian Embassy’s P.R. wing provide the American and Indian American media with material on Indian issues? Is there a White Paper on Kashmir?

Modi’s personal diplomacy and foreign policy should be played like an orchestra. This orchestra cannot be successful unless the Foreign Office officials in New Delhi and Indian diplomats abroad coordinate and orchestrate.

India has highly qualified and experienced diplomats and I respect them. The purpose of this article is to serve as a reminder to Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar and the Indian ambassador to the U.S. that they have to make sure they educate all elected officials on major Indian issues, be it Kashmir or investment or others. Failure of the Indian diplomats to compete with Pakistan’s diplomats have resulted in an anti-India resolution in Congress.

Ven Parameswaran

Scarsdale, New York

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