Tunku Varadarajan in The Daily Beast:
When Barack Obama was made aware that Narendra Modi would be India’s next prime minister, the chances are that he moaned softly to himself…and cringed.
India’s voters had brought to power a man who is not permitted to visit the United States, having been denied a U.S. visa in 2005 on account of a State Department determination that he had violated religious freedoms in the Indian state of Gujarat. (Some 2,000 Muslims had died in riots that scarred Gujarat in 2002. Modi was the state’s chief minister at the time, and his critics hold him responsible for the deaths.) The visa ban was still in place when Modi was nominated last September to lead the Bharatiya Janata [Indian People’s] Party into the elections; and most awkwardly for Obama, the ban was still technically in place on the day of his victory. American diplomacy has been decidedly maladroit.
As if jolted awake by the obtuseness of his own State Department, Obama invited Modi to visit the U.S. “at a mutually agreeable time” when he called the Indian on Saturday to congratulate him on his triumph.
A meeting between the two men, when it occurs, could be fascinating to observe. Obama and Modi are from two different planets, and each, in his heart, is likely to have vigorous contempt for the other. The former is an exquisitely calibrated product of American liberalism, ever attentive to such notions as “inclusiveness.” He is the acme of political correctness (notwithstanding the odd drone directed at “AfPak”). Modi, by contrast, is a blunt-spoken nationalist, opposed to welfare, and to the “appeasement” of minorities.