Is it Diwali time for India-US relations? Clearly, there is a lot to cheer about, and the reassuring Diwali message from US President Donald Trump should light up the spirit of his “friend,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a gesture reaffirming his commitment to deepening India-US relations, the flamboyant American president, along with his daughter Ivanka, celebrated the Hindu festival of lights – Diwali – at the White House. The Diwali bash was attended by many prominent Indian-Americans , including Nikki Haley (US Ambassador to the UN), Seema Verma (Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) Ajit Pai (Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission) and Shalabh Kumar of the Republican Hindu coalition. A video of the Diwali celebrations at White House was posted on the president’s Facebook page.
Strong connect with Modi
In his Diwali message, Mr Trump was effusive in praise of Mr Modi, whom he hosted at the White House only a few months ago, Indian-Americans and the people of India. “As we do (celebrate Diwali) so, we especially remember the people of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy,” Mr. Trump said in a post on the social media site.
He also underscored how greatly he valued his “very strong relationship with Prime Minister Modi.” When Mr Trump hosted Mr Modi at the White House in June, he had said that India had a true friend in the White House. “During my campaign, I pledged that if elected, India would have a true friend in the White House. And that is now exactly what you have – a true friend.”
Expressing his appreciation and gratitude to the over 3 million Indian-Americans for their multi-faceted contributions to the American society, he said: “You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve bravely in our armed forces and as first responders in communities throughout our great land.”
He added that by celebrating this holiday in the People’s house, he wanted to “reaffirm that Indian-Americans and Hindu-Americans are truly cherished, treasured and beloved members of our great American family.”
Trump boost for India-US ties
In hosting the Diwali celebrations at the White House, Mr Trump was continuing the tradition followed by his predecessors. But given the upswing in India-US relations during the first few months of his administration, despite initial apprehensions about policy volatility, there is a lot to cheer about how this vital relationship is shaping up.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US in June and his first meeting with Trump had set an ambitious, multi-layered agenda for upscaling India-US relations across the spectrum. Mr Trump’s Afghanistan policy has brought much cheer in diplomatic-strategic circles in India as he not only pitched for a bigger role for India in stabilising the violence-torn country, but went beyond his predecessors in calling off Pakistan’s bluff and escalating pressure on it to crack down on terror outfits. His tweet last week on developing better ties with Pakistan has sparked some worries in New Delhi, but hopefully the Diwali spirit will dispel darkness and continue to light up the course of India-US relations.
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