Narendra Modi Visa Issue

Caller One

Hi, this is Jay Kansara. I work with the Hindu American Foundation. I know Toby well. Hi, Toby.


Toby Chaudhuri

Hey, Jay. How are you?


Caller One asks Toby Chaudhuri, Co-Founder and CSO of SocialxDesign: I’m doing great.


Narendra Modi Visa Issue: Headlines

Narendra Modi is probably one of the most contentious figures in global politics.

The Hindu American Foundation didn’t endorse Narendra Modi, but we definitely felt that the conversation was very imbalanced here in the United States, especially around the issue of his visa.

There are certain organizations that were really lobbying the US Government.

They had a particular bend ideologically.

I haven’t gotten a clear answer from anyone at the State Department, in a public forum or anyone on the Hill when I asked, who is to say that these organizations won’t gain that type of traction again to bend the dialogue in another way that is clearly detrimental to US-India relations?

If you have any insight on that, I would really appreciate it.


Toby Chaudhuri

It’s worth thinking about this in a couple of ways.

Jay, I want to make sure it’s clear that when I speak about this, I’m not speaking on behalf of the administration or any other entity except for myself.


Narendra Modi Visa Issue: Social Issues

I think the question is really about social issues, if I’m hearing it correctly.

I think there is no debate at this point, from my perspective, that the rule that kept Narendra Modi from coming to the US was administered strangely.


Narendra Modi Visa Issue: Religious Tolerance Commission

It was from this archaic Religious Tolerance Commission that was looking at anti-Christian activity around the world and Narendra Modi after some of the religious riots that were happening in Gujarat as an example to show that they were making a list that transcended Judeo-Christian faith. Narendra Modi was the only person on that list.


Narendra Modi Visa Issue: Timing

It seems like after that list was made, it wasn’t really expanded on. This also happened at a time when Narendra Modi was a regional figure. He wasn’t a national figure.


Narendra Modi Visa Issue: Obama Administration

I don’t see any forces really pushing to revive that list. I think that President Obama and Secretary Kerry did a lot to recount.

They pulled out the full suite of what they could to invite the Prime Minister to come to the US.

He’s now under a different status where a visa is not a problem. It should also be noted that the denial of the visa happened in the Bush Administration and not in the present administration.


Narendra Modi Visa Issue: Focus on Bigger Picture

There are a lot of layers to this. The bigger issue here is, how is Narendra Modi going to lead as Prime Minister?

There is no question that he’s already started to reach out to leaders throughout South Asia and Pakistan around his official swearing in.

This leaves some signals to bear. It’s really important for him to transcend some of these social issues and focus at this moment in time on the economic issues that are facing India and the world.


Narendra Modi Visa Issue: Moving On

I think that there is probably some concern. Some folks are seeing his administration and not seeing a huge representation of some minorities in the BJP Party, which is now overwhelmingly the majority in Parliament.

The question is going to be:

  • How do they lead around issues that matter?
  • What does the new world order look like?
  • What does defense look like in that region?
  • What is the economic commitment going to look like?

I think that’s probably the most important piece of it. I don’t see any US organizing against Narendra Modi personally. I think that you will see folks who are trying to make sure that the conversation is where it needs to be had.


Caller One

Thank you.


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The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Toby Chaudhuri.

The entire interview transcript is at: Toby Chaudhuri NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – Current State of Politics in US and India

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

Listen to the entire interview on Blog Talk Radio: NetIP Spotlight