Washington, DC – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was welcomed with thunderous applause as he walked across the halls of Congress to deliver his joint address. Crowds on the balcony were yelling, “Modi! Modi! Modi!” as the Vice President and the Speaker of the House officially called the House into order. PM Modi was seen smiling and greeting the crowd with a namaskar and folded hands and went on to deliver his speech. At this moment, the room became dead silent as every individual was eager to hear his speech.
PM Modi started by thanking the members of Congress for giving him the honor of addressing Congress twice, as not many world leaders are always given such distinguished honor.
His speech focused on issues that touched upon the most critical aspects of US-India relations: Economic and Defense cooperation.
Although the level of economic cooperation between the US and India was already steadily rising, the PM’s visit seems to have resulted in more promising solid relations between the two nations than ever before. Everything ranging from trade to AI development was discussed, as there is an increasing shift of international companies, particularly US firms, relocating their manufacturing operations to India. Companies like Apple have already shifted en masse to India, as according to Bloomberg, a whopping $7 billion in manufacturing operations are already in place after its relocation from China to India.
Another point to note is PM Modi’s emphasis on the digitization of the Indian economy. He said, “In the last nine years, over a billion people got a unique digital biometric identity connected with their bank accounts and mobile phones. This digital public infrastructure helps us reach citizens within seconds with financial assistance. Eight hundred and fifty million people receive direct benefit financial transfers into their accounts. Three times a year, over [a] hundred million farmers receive assistance in their bank accounts at the click of a button. The value of such transfers has crossed three hundred and twenty billion dollars, and we have saved over twenty-five billion dollars in the process. If you visit India, you will see everyone is using phones for payments, including street vendors. Last year, out of every 100 real-time digital payments in the world, 46 happened in India. Nearly four hundred thousand miles of optical fiber cables and cheap data have ushered in a revolution of opportunities. Farmers check weather updates, the elderly get social security payments, students access scholarships, doctors deliver telemedicine, fishermen check fishing grounds, and small businesses get loans, with just a tap on their phones.”
PM Modi is right. Digital usage in India is growing at a fast pace. As over 12 million youth join the workforce every year, most of the upcoming generation will be more accustomed to using digital payments rather than cash transactions. It also strongly attests to the recent report by Mckinsey, which indicated that India is one of the fastest and largest growing markets for the digital economy. On top of PM Modi’s points, it strongly suggests that India led the digitization growth in a short amount of years. India, after all, is on track to become the third-largest economy by 2027.
PM Modi’s speech also emphasized the need for stronger defense ties between the two countries. In his speech, the PM noted, “The dark clouds of coercion and confrontation are casting their shadow in the Indo-Pacific. The stability of the region has become one of the central concerns of our partnership,” indirectly noting the threat of China’s expansionist efforts in Asia.
Under PM Modi’s leadership and its “Make-In-India” effort, India saw a significant fruition when the General Electronic Company (GE) can now manufacture fighter planes in India, which was decided right around the time of the PM’s official visit to the US. This sends a clear message to China that India’s military cooperation with the US is becoming more robust, as India’s defense capabilities have just seen significant growth. As a matter of fact, the first repair of a US Naval ship occurred in India in 2022, followed by several bilateral exercises between the two naval forces.