‘Howdy, Modi!’ event: PM Narendra Modi kicks off US tour with a $1 trillion meeting
Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his fourth visit to the US on Saturday with a “Howdy Houston?” tweet and a roundtable with 17 CEOs of energy companies that were together worth $1 trillion and had operations in more than 150 countries, including India, which they want to grow.
The Prime Minister also met local Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and Dawoodi Bohras and tweeted a “special” shoutout to the Kashmiris given, perhaps, the context of the revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.
On Sunday, Modi will take the stage during the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event with US President Donald Trump in a unique joint appearance for both leaders, with a sports arena packed with an expected 50,000 people, many of whom were arriving from all over the United States till within just hours of its start.
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“It’s a big deal — “bahut badi baat hai” — for the two leaders to share the stage,” said Rakesh Kumar, a software developer from North Carolina.
Kumar has taken hopping flights across states to reach Houston in time, but without much hope of making it into the stadium, because he registered late, and is now among the 7,000 waitlisted.
Modi hit the ground running Saturday.
“It is impossible to come to Houston and not talk energy!” he wrote on Twitter about this roundtable, his first official business after landing in Houston early in the afternoon. “Had a wonderful interaction with leading energy sector CEOs. We discussed methods to harness opportunities in the energy sector,” Modi said.
Energy ties have been growing between India and the US, which is now the world’s largest producer of energy and India is a growing client with annual buys in the range of around $4.5 billion.
Indians are going beyond merely buying American energy, to actually grow a stake in it. Petronet LNG, an Indian state-private partnership, signed an MoU with Tellurian, a Houston-based oil company.
The Indian company will “invest $2.5 billion in Tellurian’s proposed Driftwood LNG export terminal, in exchange for the rights to 5 million metric tons of LNG per year over 40 years,” the spokesperson for external affairs ministry, Raveesh Kumar, said.
Prime Minister Modi will leave for New York shortly after the “Howdy, Modi!” event for a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings including a second meeting with President Trump for bilateral talks on Tuesday. There is an event later that day to mark the 150th birth anniversary Mahatma Gandhi, and, finally, his address to the UN General Assembly.
Officials have said India is looking to launch its more substantive and focussed effort to forge new partnership going far beyond the usual BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), G-4 (India, Germany, Japan and Brazil) and IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) that have met every year ritualistically.
The Prime Minister will be hosting, for instance, the first-ever summit with leaders of the Caribbean countries.
The New York leg of Modi’s visit could also see an escalation in Pakistan’s rhetoric on Kashmir, with Prime Minister Imran Khan at the helm of “Mission Kashmir”, as his officials have described as Pakistan’s single-point agenda for the 74th session of the world body.
India plans to ignore them until it can’t.