March 30, 2020
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Stars And Stripes With The Tricolour

Ties between India and US, the world’s largest democracies, have seen highs and lows, before showing a steady upswing in the past 20 years.

Stars And Stripes With The Tricolour

  • December, 1959:Dwight Eisenhower was the first US President to visit India in December 1959 at the height of the Cold War. Worried about China after the Korean War, he reached out to India in an attempt to halt the expansion of Communism. He also addressed Parliament.

  • Early 1960s to 1967: John F. Kennedy, though much admired in India, never visited the country. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, visited Pakistan in Dec 1967, but stayed away, since India was a supporter of the Vietnamese people’s struggle for liberation against US occupiers.

  • July-August 1969:Richard Nixon also visited India when he visited the subcontinent in August 1969, but his main preoccupation was engaging with its ally, Pakistan, which had helped the US start diplomatic ties with the Communists of People’s Republic of China

  • January 1978:President Jimmy Carter engaged with India’s first non-Congress government, led by Morarji Desai, in Jan 1978. Carter also addressed Parliament. A tentative engagement began between President Ronald Reagan and PM Indira Gandhi when they met at the North-South meeting in Cancun 1981.

Later, Rajiv Gandhi as PM also visited the US under Reagan but the latter never visited India. His obsession with Communism, the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, the resultant US dependence on Pakistan, perhaps prevented a trip to Delhi.

  • March 2000:The real warming up of ties began in the second half of the Clinton presidency when he visited India in March 2000, less than two years after India’s nuclear tests strained relatons. His talks with PM Vajpayee and visit to India was a grand success—paving the way for strong ties.

  • March 2006:George W. Bush, though unpopular across the world because of his Iraq invasion after 9/11, had a soft corner for India and wanted strong ties with the country, going out of his way to sign the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement when he visited India in March 2006.

  • November 2009 and January 2015:Despite initially ignoring India, Barack Obama, warmed up to India and visited the country twice, the only US president to do so. He also became the first one to be the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations. PM Modi struck up a personal rapport with him.

  • Modi and POTUS, June 2017: PM Modi’s visit to the US and his meeting with Trump, a most unpredictable US president, had kept all guessing. But they seem to have built up a rapport beyond expectations, laying the ground for cooperation between the two nations.
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