The unveiling of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s signature initiative, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings, and an address to the UN General Assembly is expected to mark his six-day visit to the US, which begins on 22 September, two people familiar with the development said on Sunday.
Modi’s first stop is expected to be Houston, Texas, where he is scheduled to meet top representatives of the US energy sector, according to one of the people cited above. This comes against the backdrop of India buying $4 billion worth of fuel from the US and looking to step up imports as well as invest in the US energy sector.
Modi is also expected to speak at an Indian community event christened “Howdy Modi" that is expected to be the “largest gathering" for a foreign leader visiting the US other than the Pope.
Modi has previously addressed two Indian community events in the US at the Madison Square Garden in New York in 2014 and the Silicon Valley in 2016. Both the events were attended by more than 20,000 people.
More than 50,000 people have registered for the event on 22 September, with many more on a wait list, according to Texas India Forum, the Indian community group organizing the event. There is speculation that US President Donald Trump could join Modi at the event that is also expected to be attended by 60 US lawmakers, including John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamurthy, Tulsi Gabbard, Brad Sherman, and governor Eliot Engel of New York. If Trump does attend the Houston event, the two leaders could sit down for a bilateral meeting. If not, a Trump-Modi bilateral meet may take place either in New York or Washington.
On Sunday evening, Modi will go to New York, where he is expected to attend the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, 23 September. The Prime Minister is expected to attend at least two events on the sidelines of the UN session focusing on terrorism and global health. He is also to be the keynote speaker at the Third Annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum in the city.
At least a dozen bilateral meetings have also been lined up on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, before he addresses the session on 27 September, his third address since 2014.
Analysts say that Modi’s schedule is in line with India’s international profile, its leading power aspirations, its economic relationship with the US, and its ties with the international community. “India has multiple issues on its agenda" and does not have a single issue focus, said former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal.
This is in obvious contrast with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose stated intention is to address the UN General Assembly with Kashmir as the focus. This comes against the backdrop of tensions between India and Pakistan over New Delhi revoking a provision of the Constitution and integrating Kashmir more closely with the rest of the country. Pakistan has been raising its dispute with India over Kashmir at all possible international fora, since 5 August, when New Delhi declared Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to be two Union territories.
“For Pakistan, Kashmir is the be all and end all of its existence. Kashmir has ramifications for its army and for terrorist groups based there. For Pakistan, Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of Partition. For India, that is not the case. The prime minister’s programme sends a strong message about the huge difference in the agendas of the two countries and their relations with the rest of the world," Sibal said.