Africa-Press – Lesotho. Way back in 1997 when a few of us sat down to have tea with and talk to Narendra Modi, none of us could ever imagine that someday he would become the Prime Minister of India.
He had accompanied Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi to the International Ramayana Conference that was being held at the MGI, and we met for about half an hour before he was due to address the audience.
That was the first time ever that I heard him and was in awe of his oratory and his command of the language. Whereas the other speakers had used some English words and expressions, his whole speech was in pure Hindi.
That impressive encounter re-surfaced in my mind when he was announced as the BJP candidate for PM in 2014, and I have since followed his journey with great attention and interest.
In a way this was inevitable, because of my deep connection with my ancestral and spiritual Motherland. In 1965 I began my medical studies there on a Government of India scholarship and got married during my internship in New Delhi.
Profession and family connections meant that my links with India have constantly deepened and strengthened, as a result of which it is almost second nature to follow events taking place there from all angles.
India -US connects
Many of my classmates and internship colleagues planned to do specialist studies, and possibly settle in the US; eventually several did, so India-US matters were always a matter of both interest and concern.
One issue was the US support to Pakistan during what is known as the Bangladesh war of December 1971, when the US sent an aircraft carrier to the Bay of Bengal.
This didn’t sit well with Indian citizens. One day one of them gave a lift to a foreigner who was walking in Chanakyapuri, the diplomatic enclave in New Delhi. As the latter sat down, the driver asked if he was American. When he replied in the affirmative, the driver stopped the car and told him ‘Get down!’
I was in India in December 1995 when I read about the US having put pressure on the Russian company Glavkosmos to rescind its contract with India about supplying technology for the production of cryogenic fuel to be used in missiles. The result: Indian scientists went on to develop their own version of cryogenic fuel which they have been using successfully since.
The other sticking point in the US-India relationship that comes to my mind is the remark allegedly made by President Bill Clinton that I reproduce from memory, as reported in The Economist, when India exploded a nuclear bomb in 1998, namely ‘We will come down on these guys like a ton of bricks!’ The US had no inkling at all of the explosion after until after it happened.