Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India will receive a lavish welcome on Thursday in Washington, where he will address a joint session of Congress and be feted by President Biden and the first lady in a state dinner at the White House — only the third state leader to be hosted by the current administration.
Swirling around the pageantry of a momentous visit for U.S.-India relations, seen as an affirmation of India’s rise as an economic and diplomatic power, will be weighty questions of geopolitical alignments with regard to China’s economic influence and Russia’s military aggression, as well as the erosion of India’s secular democracy under Mr. Modi. How much if any of that will be publicly addressed by the two leaders is unclear.
The visit is a significant diplomatic prize for Mr. Modi, who was once denied a visa to the United States for his role in religious riots in his home state, and as prime minister has increasingly consolidated power and edged his country closer to one-party rule.
The visit has big implications for U.S.-India relations as President Biden seeks to shore up an alliance against Russia’s aggression and China’s economic influence.
Announcing Mr. Modi’s state visit, the White House press secretary said the occasion would celebrate “the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together.” Like his predecessors, Mr. Biden has leaned into the hope that India, the world’s most populous democracy and the fifth-largest economy, will serve as a counterweight to China’s growing global economic heft. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen last year visited India as part of the administration’s push to shift global supply chains away from its political and economic adversaries.