The Modi-Obama Summit: A Leadership Moment for India and the United States

Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.

From September 27-30, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in the United States on his first visit to the United States as his country’s leader. While in New York, he will address the United Nations General Assembly, give a speech to the Indian diaspora at Madison Square Garden and meet with stakeholders in the relationship, including private sector, diaspora and civil society leaders. In Washington, D.C., on September 29-30, he will meet with President Obama, Vice President Biden and a number of other senior administration officials, as well as Congressional leaders to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues on the India-U.S. agenda.

Even before he came to office, Prime Minister Modi called India and the U.S. “natural allies,” stating, “It is in the interest of both the nations to develop further on our relationship.” President Barack Obama, in turn, outlined the task ahead for both leaderships: to work together “to fulfill the extraordinary promise of the U.S.-India strategic partnership.” In advance of the two leaders meeting in Washington, the Brookings India Initiative, which consists of the Brookings India Center in New Delhi and the India Project at Brookings in Washington, put together a briefing book that highlights some areas of promise in the partnership and suggests ways to translate those opportunities into outcomes.

Taking advantage of the breadth of expertise available at Brookings, the briefing book contains 28 memos by over two dozen Brookings scholars. These memos are divided into three sections:

  1. The overview section offers an overall perspective each from Washington and New Delhi on the India-U.S. relationship.
  2. The “scene-setter” memos offer glimpses of how India and the United States view some crucial foreign policy issues, their inclusion reflecting the fact that each country’s perceptions and actions vis-à-vis third countries will have implications for the other, as well as for the India-U.S. relationship.
  3. The third section covers a range of issues on which India and the United States are or could be cooperating, including in the foreign, security, economic, energy and social policy realms.

Editor’s Note: Brookings does not take institutional positions on policy issues and each memo in this briefing book solely reflects the views of the Brookings scholar(s) who authored it.