Modi may do a Madison Square in Houston

PM to combine diaspora event and energy diplomacy in the Texas city during his U.S. visit in June

May 16, 2017 10:31 pm | Updated June 22, 2017 05:11 pm IST - NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON

Diaspora destinations: Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden in New York in September 2014.

Diaspora destinations: Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden in New York in September 2014.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may mix diaspora diplomacy and energy diplomacy during his visit to the U.S. in June to meet President Donald Trump, with a proposal to visit Houston in Texas as well, several sources in New Delhi and Washington have confirmed to The Hindu .

After New York and California, Texas accounts for the most number of Indian-Americans in the U.S., and officials involved say the Prime Minister has been invited by local community leaders to address an NRI event of the kind he held in Madison Square Gardens in 2014 and in Silicon Valley in 2015.

Request from Indians

The invitation to visit Houston came in February, when a delegation of community leaders met Mr. Modi in Delhi, and requested him to plan his next “diaspora” event in Texas, where about 2,50,000 Indian-Americans live and work. At a meeting with Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Washington in March, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry put in a request for Mr. Modi to visit Texas, the centre of the American petroleum industry and the U.S. leader’s home state.

Another possible attraction in Houston is the NASA Johnson Space Centre, given Mr. Modi’s particular interest in space diplomacy, India-U.S. space cooperation and plans to launch a joint satellite in 2021.

The Texas visit is under serious consideration, it has been learnt, and a final decision is expected to be taken by the Prime Minister’s Office in the next week.

“Time is short, and we would need to make arrangements fairly quickly if the PMO decides to go ahead with the Houston diaspora event,” a BJP leader told The Hindu , adding that a senior functionary of the ruling party who coordinates such events will be travelling to the U.S. next week.

Curbs lifted

Prime Minister Modi is expected to travel to Washington D.C. in the last week of June, and dates are expected to be announced by the end of this month. While the visit will seek to emphasize the wide range of cooperation between the two countries such and defence and counter terrorism, fossil fuels will be an added component, as the Donald Trump administration is lifting restrictions on exploration and exports.

Officials say that in the new administration, Mr. Trump wants to showcase more U.S. exports and more investments and jobs in America as outcomes of his foreign policy; fossil fuel could be the sector that gives India-U.S. ties a new thrust. Thirty per cent of the increase in the world’s energy demand from now to 2040 is expected to come from India, and energy cooperation will be an increasingly key component of bilateral relations, Mr. Pradhan had said after his meeting with Mr. Perry.

Mr. Trump and Republican lawmakers have already set in motion a series of measures that will deregulate American oil, gas and coal sectors. Three Indian public sector companies — GAIL, Oil India and IOC — and Reliance have invested in U.Ss shale gas production, officials pointed out, adding that oil diplomacy, like Indo-U.S. defence, trade, and renewable enrgy could turn into the next “win-win” for the two countries.

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