With two powerful, tall leaders, both known for their mass appeal, the mega Howdy Modi event proved to be an even greater success than the earlier such events at New York, San Francisco, and London. The presence of several senators and congressmen that included the house majority leader and the Mayor of Houston, added further weight to the 50,000 plus Indian diaspora. The television news channels from India reveled in covering the event for hours.
And there was such enthusiasm on the part of the diaspora! As President Trump mentioned, around four million of the NRIs in the US, are among the prosperous sections of US immigrants. Many of them have pursued higher education and trained in the US, are among the creamy layers of American society. It shouldn’t, therefore, be much of a surprise in presenting their precious talents through several cultural events. Around 600 are estimated to have prepared for this event weeks ahead. It proved a grand extravaganza.
Prime Minister Modi and President Trump reinforced the depth of their friendship. They both expressed their interest in expanding trade and investments as also their determination to tackle cross-border terrorism. For Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, landing in New York just hours earlier, the contrast of receptions extended should have been galling. Even more, should have been the strong references of Prime Minister Modi on doing away with Article 370 and to terrorism originating in Pakistan: “the whole world knows where the threats from the 9/11 terror attacks to the 26/11 Mumbai strikes led. The time has come for a tough, decisive fight against terrorism and those who support terrorism.”
Soon after landing at Houston the previous evening, Modi met with the top leaders of the US oil industry concentrated in Texas. These included the senior leaders of American oil majors. Petronet LNG, the large importer of liquified natural gas (LNG) in India, announced its decision to invest $ 2.5 billion in Tellurian Inc., to import annually five million tonnes of LNG for 40 years.
President Trump mentioned that America had emerged as the largest producer of oil and natural gas. There have been significant developments in the global oil scene: the drone attack on the largest oil field and refinery of the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, had resulted in a drastic cut in global supplies. Add to this the sanctions on Iran, another large oil producer.
India’s balance of trade with the US has been in favour of India with a large surplus of Indian exports over imports from the US. President Trump is understandably keen to balance this.
India should not just be content to expand the import of oil and CNG from the US. The latter has achieved leadership in these sectors by a sharp focus on shale oil and gas. American technology and investments could be accessed for producing shale oil and gas in India.
For some 25 years from independence, American oil giants Exxon and Caltex had a thriving business in petroleum products in India. The Indira Gandhi government nationalised these companies in the 1970s. Other large American oil companies like Chevron and Amoco sold off their investments. The Howdy Modi event should pave the ground for getting these large oil companies to invest in oil and gas exploration, refineries…in India.
President Trump also referred to the Tiger Triumph, the first joint tri-service military event, scheduled for November: “Our relationship today is stronger than ever before,” Trump pointed out. “Very soon, several defence deals would be signed between India and the US to bolster security relationship.”
In a separate article, we have suggested leveraging such close relations knit by Prime Minister Modi with several global leaders for investing in India for building in quick time large infrastructure projects with easy funding options.