Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US is a watershed moment in ties between the two countries. The signing of major business and defence deals, state reception at the White House and an address by Modi to the Joint Session of Congress, underline the convergence of commercial, economic, strategic and technology interests between the two countries. The visit reinforces India’s heft as a rising economic and strategic power not to speak of its soft power as a pluralist, democratic society.

The latter is borne out by the fact that India’s 4.5 million diaspora, the second largest immigrant community in the US, has made a mark for itself — in the US’ scientific institutions, universities, Silicon Valley, politics, government and other businesses. The Prime Minister’s visit deepens the level of engagement between the two largest democracies and their governments, institutions, businesses and people. Underlying the high voltage optics — which included Modi interacting with Elon Musk and the respective CEOs of Apple, Google and Microsoft, besides other creme de la creme of US public life — there was some serious deal-making involving both the government and private players, covering a gamut of technologies, health and defence. These signal a strategic shift in Indo-US ties.

To take just a few examples, Micron Technology Inc will invest more than $800 million towards a $2.75-billion semi-conductor assembly and test facility in India. In a strategic sense, it signals the push for alternative supply chains to the China-Taiwan complex. To actualise this strategic goal, Lam Research will train 60,000 Indian engineers. Likewise, a ‘critical minerals partnership’ is aimed at “diversifying and securing our critical mineral supply chains” for EV batteries — again an area where China’s control is pronounced. The underlying theme of the joint statement is that the US seeks a big role for India in the Indo-Pacific — as a countervailing force to China. It downplays differences on the Ukraine-Russia conflict. It is not insignificant that a major defence deal involving technology transfer has materialised, where GE will produce jet engines in India for HAL’s Tejas aircraft. The space sector tie-ups are a recognition of India’s space expertise.

Meanwhile, the resolution of “six outstanding WTO disputes”, three initiated by the US and three by India, will help India’s steel, aluminium and renewable energy industries. According to the Commerce Ministry, 70 per cent of the steel exports and 80 per cent of aluminium exports to the US will benefit from a duty rollback. Meanwhile US exports of almonds, apples and the like will gain from India’s withdrawal of retaliatory duties. Big gains also were posted in the ‘softer’ areas. H-1B and L visa holders are likely to be able to renew their visas in the US, without being required to return here. New US consulates will be opened in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Clearly, Indo-US ties needed this reset.