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The History of US Presidential Visits to India

50 years since the first visit of a US president in India, it will be of utmost importance to see what President Donald trump’s visit brings in favor of India, even if we remove the chances of major trade deal between two countries for now as indicated by the US President himself.

INDIA. EISENHOWER's Official Visit. US president Dwight D. Eisenhower with NEHRU in New Delhi. 1959.

Looking at the ridiculous amount of money that the government spent on the preparations for the 2-day trip of US president Donald trump, one might think he is the first US president to ever come to the country, But that’s not the case. India has had the pleasure of hosting many notable US presidents. If you look back at the India-US relationship, you will undoubtedly find that the relationship between the two Nations is way warmer now than it was in the early decades of independence.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

In the December of 1959, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s visit to India came amidst the cold war between United States and the Soviet Union. This trip did a lot to better the estranged relationship between India and United States as before the trip the US was under the impression that India was taking the side of communist Soviet Union in the ongoing cold war. However, India had joined the non aligned movement thus deciding to not take sides and remain neutral in the cold war. During the Eisenhower’s goodwill tour, he addressed the parliament, went to Raj Ghat and took a trip to Taj Mahal. He was the first serving us president visiting the country.

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon’s visit to India in 1969 was nothing short of a disaster. This one-day trip did nothing to mend the ties between the nations and only turned for worse. The sour relationship between Nixon and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was very prominent during the trip.

Jimmy Carter

9 years after Richard Nixon’s visit, us president jimmy carter came on a 3-day trip to India received by then Prime Minister Morarji Desai and then president Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. During the trip he visited a small town near Delhi and left a lasting impression. The village was later renamed as ‘carterpuri’ honoring his visit. The purpose of his trip was noticeably clear – ‘convince Indians to give up their nuclear ambitions’, which much to his disappointment didn’t happen. He became infamous for getting caught by the microphones while muttering to his team that India should be given a ‘cold and blunt message’ on its nuclear ambitions.

Bill Clinton

In 2000, Bill Clinton visited India, 22 years after jimmy carter. Accompanied by his daughter Chelsea Clinton, his 5-day trip was the longest stay by any previous us presidents. Also, unlike other presidents, his visit included many cities beside Delhi, Agra including Jaipur, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Every place he went, he was greeted by an enormous crowd. His speech at the parliament was met with a thunderous applause. This trip came a year after when in 1999 during the war between India and Pakistan, US for the first time had supported India.

George W. Bush

George W Bush accompanied his wife for their trip to India in 2005. Regardless that his trip was a short one, it was however a landmark in the nuclear deal. United States and India signed a civil nuclear cooperation initiative. While India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place its civilian resources under international atomic energy agency (IAEA), US agreed to end the nuclear ban on India and work toward full nuclear cooperation with the country. At a time when the US president was being criticized worldwide for invading Iraq in 2003, this deal was surely a high point for him.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama participates in a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, India, Jan. 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Barack Obama who visited India twice during his term as the president of United States, first came to the country in 2010 with his wife Michelle Obama hosted by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He backed India’s long held ambition to become a permanent member of the United Nations security council. Further into his trip, Obama announced a $14.9 billion in trade deals with India. As the President and the first lady went on with the trip, people were enraptured by them. They also visited an NGO and met with some underprivileged kids. The next visit of president Obama took place when he was invited as a chief guest of India’s 66th republic day celebrations.

Now 50 years since the first visit of a US president in India, it will be of utmost importance to see what President Donald trump’s visit brings in favor of India, even if we remove the chances of major trade deal between two countries for now as indicated by the US President himself.

 

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.

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