Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently was given US Honour “Legion of Merit” by Donald Trump. On 22nd December, India’s ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu accepted the award on the behalf of Prime minister from the US National security advisor Robert O’Brien at the White house. The prestigious award is specified for his leadership in upgrading strategic partnership and India turning into a global power.
The award is considered as one of the highest military Honour and is generally given to the Head of state or the government, but this is the first time ever when US presented the award to Indian Prime Minister. Indo-US relations have emerged into a “global strategic partnership” based on global issues, democratic values and increasing convergence of interests. Indian government emphasized on good governance and development in first two summits that held between Prime minister Narendra Modi and president Barack Obama in 2014 and 2015 respectively, that developed a partnership among two countries. The motto introduced by Indian government “ChalienSaathSaath: Forward together we go” and “SanjhaPrayas, Sab ka Vikas” (Shared Efforts, Progress for All) carried the vision agreed to follow by both the countries during summit.
India-US relations has always been talk of the town. Be it the political relations, strategic consultations, defense cooperation, trade and economic or counter terrorism and internal security. Ruhi Kurele, a political consultant and a former journalist by profession who was previously associated with Indian Political Action Committee, had a talk with Eat News. On receiving “Legion of Merit” by Indian Prime Minister, she said, “I see the recent award as an acknowledgement of the efforts by the two countries to build stronger ties and also give out a message of stronger Indo-US ties. India is a major defense partner of the US and both the countries have deepened cooperation on maritime security, interoperability and information sharing in the last few years.” Ruhi Kurele added, “The other two leaders who have been bestowed with the legion of merit are premiers of Australia and Japan, the two countries which are part of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad along with India and US. This shows the US commitment at countering China.”
She also mentioned that in 2018, legion of merit of America was also given to former chief of the Army General Dalbir Singh Suhag, in the same year in which India placed orders worth billions of dollars of state-of-the-art military equipment from the US, started the first tri-services exercise, ‘Tiger Triumph’, between the two countries.
Under his leadership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received several international awards. From Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Afghanistan, Palestine to Russia, United Arab Emirates, The United Nations Environment Programme. This somehow impacts on global image of the country. Ruhi Kurele shared her opinion on this, “The mood at home along with bilateral relations of India will drive Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image at the global level. The global awards are a testament to the popularity of Narendra Modi in and outside the country. In my understanding, Awards give a push to popularity but don’t give drive to the global image.”
Later, commenting on Indo-US relations, she agrees that it’s a clear effort put by United States administration to build a strong relationship with India. “The United States needs India to counterbalance China and values India as a military and trade partner”, according to her.
India and America relations has never been static. Although President Donald Trump always openly appreciated Narendra Modi and talks about their friendship, he also never missed a chance to show America as a super power. A fresh instance is, when President Donald Trump in April warned India, that the US may retaliate if it did not export anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine. And now the question is, coming of a new elected president Joe Biden and his administration, will it make relations better with India? Ruhi Kurele quoted Eat News, “Military cooperation, trade relations and a friendship between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have improved Indo-US ties. I expect Joe Biden to continue supporting India as the US fears the rise of China. Although the Biden administration might not want to mingle in the internal issue of India, I believe these issues can act as roadblocks.”
She further added, “Both Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are likely to be more critical of India’s human rights record. Kamala Harris, whose mother was an Indian, had indicated earlier that she is concerned about Kashmir. Mr. Biden’s campaign documents also showed his disappointment in the Citizenship Act.” Whereas Donald Trump when asked, denied to comment on Citizenship Act of India and called it as an internal matter of India which should be handled by the country itself.
No doubt in past few years, Indo-US relations have got better and expanded not only on strategic partnership but also on issues such as international terrorism. And which is now bothering other countries including China. According to a report by Indian Defense Review, China factor will continue to impact Indo-US relations in the near future as both the countries are worried about Chinese designs in Asia and the world. Both India and US will be eager to shape strong political, security and economic relations with each other. Both the democracies will continue to involve more countries with same viewpoint.
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