While intense speculation about the bi-lateral relationship has dominated the commentary/ analysis apropos the first Modi-Trump meeting on Monday (June 26 ), there is a wider domain that beckons, which will be the litmus for the perspicacity and global vision that the two leaders can bring to the table.
PM Modi and POTUS Trump represent the world’s largest and oldest democracies – a strand which merits recall – though this description is deemed to be clichéd. They both owe an allegiance to their respective constitutions which enjoin them to practice fidelity in word and spirit to the normative benchmark of an equitable , liberal, democratic order.
History reminds us that during World War II and post Hiroshima, the US supported the removal of the colonial shackle that India was subjected to – and whatever transgressions and excesses their domestic critics may pillory them for – in the current global political arena – these two leaders symbolize this democratic impulse. And it behooves them to acknowledge this Holy Grail and rise above the limited transactional agenda in their first meeting.
Two other issues that merit prioritization in the current flux and a lack of consensus about how to steer the global comity towards a ‘new world’ are climate change and the scourge of jihadi terror ideologies. India and the US have reviewed and outlined their respective national policies on both issues. However a major disruption was caused by the Trump decision to take America out of the carefully arrived at Paris climate agreement – and make invalid allegations against India. The Beltway acknowledges the invalidity of this charge and PM Modi has the opportunity to apprise Mr. Trump about his own conviction as regards climate change and the contours of collective responsibility.
It is more coincidence than design that the first Modi-Trump meeting is taking place at the end of Ramzaan. And the blood-splattered run-up to Eid this year which includes the destruction of the al-Nuri mosque in Iraq and the daily terror attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan provide both the context and urgency to quarantine this malignancy. The world that is envisaged in 2020 and beyond must aspire for a terror free global environment – where democracies renew and restore their inherent vitality and commitment to an equitable socio-political global order.
(The author is a noted strategic analyst and Director, Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi.)