Biden and Indian Prime Minister Modi have embarked on a controversial state visit

Biden and Indian Prime Minister Modi have embarked on a controversial state visit

Rain did not deter Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival at the White House on Thursday even as his record of suppressing human rights and press freedom in his home country clouded his meeting with President Joe Biden.

Despite the drizzling rain, there was a festive atmosphere on the South Lawn as thousands of invited guests – most of them Indian-Americans – waved tiny Indian and US flags.

The crowd greeted the Prime Minister with shouts of ‘Modi, Modi’.

At a time when the White House is looking to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region, Biden, who campaigned for democracy against autocracy, must balance his desire to confront Beijing with Modi’s growing iron fist.

“I have long believed that the US relationship with India will be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century,” Biden said as he welcomed Modi to the White House in an elaborate ceremony on the South Lawn. Includes a military salute and fife and drum corps.

First Lady Jill Biden and President Joe Biden greet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House

President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi listen to the national anthem during a welcome ceremony for Modi on the South Lawn of the White House

Thousands of Indian-Americans were on the South Lawn, chanting ‘Modi, Modi’

Both men noted that their country’s constitution begins with ‘We the People’.

However, in his remarks, Biden did not directly address the controversy surrounding Modi’s rule back home. Instead he focused on the future and the relationship between the two nations.

“The decisions we make today will determine our future for decades to come,” Biden said.

The President paid tribute to the service of Indian-Americans, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who watched from the sidelines.

Modi thanked for the warm welcome.

“Friends, today’s donation reception at the White House is an honor and pride for India’s 1.4 billion people. It is also an honor for the more than 4 million people of Indian origin living in the United States. For this honor, I express my sincere gratitude to President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden,’ he said.

The White House has said that President Biden will not lecture Modi on human rights even though he will talk about it. The prime minister, in India, has cracked down on dissent and cracked down on his opponents.

Modi has been accused of marginalizing Muslims, the largest minority group in the Hindu country. Under Modi, violence against Muslims has become more common. And the prime minister has been criticized for supporting a law that makes it more difficult for Muslim immigrants to become Indian citizens.

The White House has also publicly argued that Modi’s visit is not about China.

‘This state visit is not about China. And it’s not about sending a message to China. “This is really about the bilateral relationship with India and fostering that relationship for the future, which we believe is very, very great,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.

But China will be an unspoken, underlying thread. The visit comes at a time when India has overtaken China to become the world’s most populous country.

Modi’s courting of the White House, and efforts to bring India closer on trade, climate and technology issues, has a broader goal of countering Beijing’s influence in the region.

People hold a picture for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s welcome ceremony

PM Modi has visited the US several times but this is his first state visit

President Biden hosted Prime Minister Modi for a private dinner at the White House on Wednesday night

Despite the rain, the White House had a festive atmosphere

Other presidents have also kept India close. Like Donald Trump, Barack Obama visited India during his presidency. Trump also attended the ‘Howdy Modi’ event with the Prime Minister in Houston.

To help the cause, the Biden White House is honoring Modi at a state dinner — the third in the Biden administration. And this will be Modi’s first state visit after five visits to the US since becoming prime minister in 2014.

Jill Biden unveiled a veggie-filled menu for the event on Wednesday and joked that she was in ‘suspense’ over whether President Biden would choose sea bass or stick with his veggie options.

Modi is a vegetarian and President Biden is known for his love of American classics such as spaghetti, peanut butter and jelly, and ice cream.

Thursday’s state dinner menu includes marinated millet and grilled corn salad, stuffed portobello mushrooms, saffron-infused risotto available upon request. Strawberry shortcake will be served for dessert.

President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi perform with a fife and drum corps during the welcome ceremony

It was drizzling during the welcome ceremony but it did not hamper the event

Four hundred guests will descend on the White House for the black-tie event, a large number for a state dinner.

Vice President Kamala Harris jokes with US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan as they wait to greet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The first brought in female chef Nina Curtis, a Sacramento, Calif., celebrity celebrated for her exceptional skill and creativity in plant-based cuisine, as the show’s guest chef.

‘With this official state visit, we are bringing together the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracy,’ Jill Biden said at the dinner preview.

The event will be held in a pavilion on the South Lawn. David Stark worked with East Wing for the design event, which incorporated elements of Indian and American culture into the decor.

The table flowers were a saffron color and included a mix of lilies, tulips and peonies, a favorite of the first lady.

Different sized candles sit within the plate, giving off a warm glow.

Stark said he worked with Jill Biden on the decorations.

‘She likes the feeling of being able to walk in the garden, her approach to being able to put together a still life at the table that feels very personal and doesn’t feel like the florist has come to town but feels like you’ve done it yourself,’ she says.

The mandap will be decorated in green and saffron, honoring the colors of the Indian flag. Decorations will include peacocks and bald eagles; mandala-style imagery found in traditional Indian art; and lotus flowers

Following the meal, violinist Joshua Bell and Penn Masala, a South Asian a cappella group founded by University of Pennsylvania students, will perform.

Guest chef Nina Curtis composes the menu; He holds the main course, which includes a stuffed portobello mushroom and creamy saffron-infused risotto.

400 guests will receive a copy of the dinner menu on their plate

First Lady Jill Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a science event

White House national security adviser Jack Sullivan said at a briefing that the president is expected to raise US concerns about democratic backsliding in India, but he will not lecture Modi on the issue.

“When the United States sees challenges to press, religious or other freedoms, we speak up,” Sullivan said, according to Reuters. He added: ‘We do it in a way where we don’t want to lecture or claim that we don’t have our own challenges.

‘Ultimately, Indians are going to decide where the question of politics and democratic institutions in India goes. It will not be determined by the United States,’ Sullivan said.

Biden has argued for the virtues of democracy over dictatorship. And Modi’s record on human rights could put the president in a tough spot as he welcomes the Indian leader with open arms.

The White House played down how Biden would handle Modi’s growing iron fist.

“When President Biden speaks to his counterparts abroad, he regularly raises our concerns. Certainly human rights are a concern for the United States and are a fundamental element of President Biden’s foreign policy, so I’ll just leave it at that,’ National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.

Protests are expected around the White House on Thursday.

And more than 70 members of Congress wrote to Biden on Tuesday, urging him to address human rights concerns with Modi.

“A series of independent, credible reports reflect alarming signs of shrinking political space in India, the rise of religious intolerance, the targeting of civil society organizations and journalists, and increasing restrictions on press freedom and Internet access,” the lawmakers wrote.

Jill Biden and White House Social Secretary Carlos Elizondo pose during a media preview ahead of Thursday’s state dinner.

The table is decorated with flowers and candles

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi participates in a yoga class during the celebration of International Yoga Day on the grounds of the United Nations Headquarters in New York

Modi embraces actor Richard Gere as they attend the 9th International Day of Yoga at the UN headquarters in N

Modi was once denied a visa to the US after riots in 2002 killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in Gujarat – the region where he was chief minister.

To ban Modi, the State Department invoked a little-known US law passed in 1998 that made foreign officials responsible for ‘serious violations of religious freedom’ ineligible for visas.

But after the 2014 elections, Modi was allowed to enter the US as Prime Minister.

Modi has been accused of marginalizing Muslims, the largest minority group in the Hindu country. Under Modi, violence against Muslims has become more common. And the prime minister has been criticized for supporting a law that makes it more difficult for Muslim immigrants to become Indian citizens.

Before arriving in Washington DC on Wednesday, Modi led the International Day of Yoga celebrations at the UN headquarters in New York.

He visited the National Science Foundation with First Lady Jill Biden on Wednesday afternoon and had a private dinner with the first couple that evening, featuring some of President Biden’s favorite foods, including pasta and ice cream.

Modi will also address the joint session of the Congress.

Modi is meeting several US CEOs during his visit to the US, including Friday’s reception. On Tuesday, he met Twitter’s Elon Musk in New York.

Biden and Modi are expected to announce various deals related to defense cooperation and sales, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and investment in India by Micron Technology and other US companies.

The war in Ukraine will also be on the agenda. India continues to buy oil and arms from Russia and has not publicly condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

For his part, Modi is pushing for a bigger role for India on the world stage. India, a member of the G20, will host world leaders for the group’s annual meeting in September. And Modi wants his country to get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

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