Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Washington on the second leg of his three-nation tour for his first bilateral meeting with US president Donald Trump on Sunday.
The two leaders are set to hold discussions on a set of "strategically important" issues. Modi arrived in the American capital early Sunday after a day-long working visit to Portugal, the first ever bilateral visit by an Indian PM to the European nation. Modi will interact with about 20 leading American CEOs followed by an Indian-American community event in the DC suburb of Virginia. The programme is likely to be attended by about 600 members of the community.
Firstpost's Nikhila Natarajan was at the scene:
Modi's visit to Washington DC evening coincides with a rare weekend when the US president is staying in the capital instead of wandering away to his favourite weekend getaways at one of his luxurious properties in New Jersey or Florida. Trump will be attending the wedding of Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Louise Linton. He returns to the White House almost around the same time that Modi will be entering the Willard Hotel next door. We bring you a diary of goings on from the most powerful zip code in America - 20500.
More local headaches for Trump
Hopes dim for Trump’s big legislation: The repeal of Obamacare with just 5 working days left before US Congress breaks for the summer recess. Five of Trump’s own party are opposed to the GOP health care bill and the math is fairly simple. With Democrats uniformly against the legislation, the Republicans can live with a maximum of two Senators going rogue, not more. Trump’s ability to swing votes inside the Congress in a tight fight is still untested. When Modi comes calling at 3:30 pm Monday, 26 June, it will likely be the only evening this coming week when Trump won't be focusing on the fires he is fighting on his most ambitious legislative move in his still young presidency.
PM hotel turns into a fortress
The red carpet at the White House is still a day away. Meanwhile, a line of orange trucks have been rolled out at the PM’s digs in Washington DC, chained to each other, filled with sand along the outer periphery of the historic Willard hotel, turning the location into a fortress in the span of one afternoon.
The lobby is crawling with secret service staff in their trademark black and black uniforms, traffic has slowed to a crawl on Pennsylvania Ave and cabbies are warning passengers of gridlock driving downtown. “Don’t know why but there’s too much traffic there, something big is going on.”
Little India at Willard
There’s something quaint and comforting about an Indian Embassy run media room in America’s capital city: The familiar sounds of conversations in regional languages, a walled garden full of foreign service bureaucrats who you rarely spot in large cohorts in a single space, dhoklas from Woodlands in Maryland piled high into large aluminium foil pans and a wall to wall row of desktop computers which now increasingly go untouched. Almost every hack comes bundled with an Apple Mac. Won’t be long before these media rooms turn lean and mean, with just phone juice, chairs and tables, just as the unending supply of masala tea and samosas from even a year ago has given way dip tea and whole grain sandwiches.
"Check social media, Ma’am"
Has PM left Portugal? Has his plane taken off? “Check social media, madam, follow MEA on Twitter, wahan sab kuch mil jaayega” is what you get from MEA staffers dotting Washington DC. It’s not just the news business that’s been upended by technology and social media platforms, it’s the entire supply chain that goes into journalism. Yet, real access will always matter.
Social media handles won’t give you red meat that a face to face does: That the White House official who briefed media on the Modi -Trump meeting had a prepared answer for every single question that the media popped. Social media also wont tell you who all that particular official has been meeting from the Indian side in the months before the Modi-Trump visit. There’s no substitute for shoe leather reporting, for everything else, there’s free media, cranking out a slightly different take on any story in 30 seconds flat.
How many Indians in the US? Here are the official White House numbers on it
The upside of ultra conservative ‘official’ briefings: You can feed fresh data to Google’s search result bots on hot buttons like H1B and Indians in America. The White House official who’s prepping Trump for the “very special meeting” updated us on the latest numbers for the diaspora here, with a White House stamp on it.
There are 4 million Indians living in America, the student population is 166,000 and they support number of Indians living in America is 4 million, contributing more than $5 billion in economic activity and supporting an estimated 64,000 US jobs. Two way trade between India and US is $114 billion, the two countries have signed $32 billion worth of long term energy contracts. #Facttanks rock.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jun 25, 2017 08:49:21 IST