Ummid Assistant

Applications open for Manmohan scholarship at Cambridge

Opportunities for Indian students in US

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Four US lawmakers step into Indian political turd

Sunday March 31, 2013 08:06:48 PM, Mayank Chhaya, IANS

Related Article

In US, nothing comes for free: BJP on 'sponsored' business delegation

The BJP Saturday clarified that neither the US nor "any" state government in India sponsored the visit of the US business leaders delegation that met Gujarat Chief Minister   »

Organisers of US group that met Modi sought $16,000 a seat


Four US lawmakers, who are among a group of visitors specially chaperoned to meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, have stepped right on it. By it, I mean political turd. The smell on their shoes may not last long but while it does, it would be fairly foul.

Thanks to professional colleagues Hemant Bhrambhatt and Ashok Easwaran, publisher and editor respectively of Hi India, a Chicago-based South Asian weekly newspaper, an ongoing India visit of the four Republican lawmakers and businesspeople has been somewhat upended.

The delegation consisting of Congressman Aaron Schock, Congressman Marlin Stutzman, Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis and Congresswoman Cathy M Rodgers along with a bunch of businesspeople was taken to meet Modi. The details of the visit, according to Hi India, are following:

-- The organizers had canvassed for participants in the trip at prices ranging from $3,000 to $16,000.

-- The trip was sponsored by a political action committee (PAC), the National Indian American Public Policy Institute (NIAPPI) founded by Shalabh Kumar, a Chicago businessman. An invitation circulated by NIAPPI in preparation for the trip said it was "limited to (an) elite group of American businesspersons".

-- The group has already met Modi in Ahmedabad and invited him to visit the US. On the schedule of an extensive trip is a stay at the Lake Palace in Udaipur, a visit to Karnataka as guest of the state government, a visit to the Taj Mahal, the tiger reserve at Ranthambore, a night at the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and a dinner hosted by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. A 'Bollywood Extravaganza' has also been included for the guests.

-- The cost options given in the invitation were: '7 star trip' (business class travel, private air charter in India) $16,000 per person, '4 star trip' (commercial travel in India with visits to the palace excluded) $10,000 per person, and economy option-with all travel and hotel expenses borne by the individual- $3,000 per person.

Quite predictably, the story by Hi India has been grabbed for political exploitation. The Congress Party has been quick to latch on to the story and drop dark hints of wrongdoing here. In the process, they have said things which are come close to being libelous. For instance, Congress Party spokesman Rashid Alvi said it was a "shame that the Congressmen were paid for getting a visa and certificate of development for Modi".

"One feels ashamed over this kind of news. It is an insult to a nation. The Congressmen were given Rs 9 lakh (Rs. 900,000 which is a rough equivalent in rupees of $16,000) each so that America can give him (Modi) visa and a certificate of development.

"This is unfortunate. If the money had been spent in Gujarat for the poor and development, then it would have been much better," he said.*

While there are very legitimate questions to be asked about who paid for the junket and whether the US lawmakers may have walked into some ethics questions, it is reckless to conclude straightaway, as the Congress spokesman seems to do, that they were "given" $16,000 "each."

"All I would say is that our trip here was signed off by the appropriate authorities in our government... and specifically by the House of Representatives. I would simply say that three members of Congress don't just leave the country," Congressman Schock has been quoted as saying.

"So I am not going to get into all the nuances. Certainly some people do not like the fact that we are here... perhaps some people do not agree with what we are saying here... but certainly as American members of Congress we have a free right to come over here," Schock said.

"I have checked appropriate boxes necessary to make this trip legitimate and well within all the rules and accordances of US Congress," he said.

NIAPPI's Shalabh Kumar has said, "There is a very strong House Ethics Committee that disapproves or approves visits by Congressmen to other countries".

"So an organization like NIAPPI, that is a think-tank, sponsors visits, and trade people who want to go and establish business," Kumar said.

The assertion by Congressman Schock, who is known as much for his absolute political certitudes as he is for his youthfully ripped abs (he is only 32 years old), has to be viewed with seriousness when he says the trip was "signed off by the appropriate authorities in our government... and specifically by the House of Representatives."


If that is indeed the case, the visit acquires a different dimension. The approval by the House of Representatives can then legitimately be conflated by Modi's well-oiled PR machine to claim that political views about the chief minister in American political circles may be changing in his favor.

For Modi and the BJP, there is some gain to be made by flaunting such visits as the chief minister test waters before he possibly emerges as his party's prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 parliamentary elections. After recent decisions by Britain and the European Union to end their unspoken boycott of the chief minister, the US remains a sticking point for him.

On the face of it, Modi may not be particularly perturbed by the continuing ban of a US visa for him in effect since 2005, he has to be equally conscious that when it comes to his national and international aspirations he cannot afford to be dismissive about it. He has to make amends at some point and it is in that context that such visits as the one organized by the NIAPPI play a part his rehabilitation among mainstream political circles in America.

Schock's response does not necessarily settle the question of who paid for the visit but he is right in saying that members of the US Congress do not just leave the country. There is a clearly defined set of rules that governs such trips and they have to be ethically unquestionable. Nonetheless, there have been cases of lawmakers accepting freebies and running into ethics violations.

It is instructive how all the four lawmakers are Republicans, a party that has considerable ideological convergence with Modi and the BJP when it comes to advocating entirely unfettered business-friendly policies as well limited government.


Mayank Chhaya is a journalist and author based in Chicago. The views expressed are personal and not of IANS. He can be contacted at





Home | Top of the Page


Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of

Comments powered by DISQUS


More Headlines

Soon after becoming BJP Vice President, Uma rakes up Ayodhya dispute

Modi reinducted into BJP parliamentary board; Varun, Uma on key posts

Sri Lankan Tamil party seeks UN probe into deaths

NIA to establish Liyaqat's credentials, says top cop

Roof over roads to tap solar power?

Right to Education haunted by teacher shortage?

Six lakh Delhiites refuse to pay 'inflated ' water, power bills

Why Spamhaus Internet attack was good

Boston students become Muslim for a day

Woman with one leg out to conquer Everest

Cut salt intake, exercise to avoid high BP

Brain imaging can help predict criminal's behaviour


Top Stories

Expatriate exposes pathetic condition of Indian Muslims living in Middle East

They are no better than their counterparts back home, he says, wants from the govt. to rip off their NRI status

With the news that Saudi Arabia has started implementing its new labour law reserving 10 percent of jobs for locals consequently  »

Indians in Middle East remit home over $35 billion every year

NRI deposits in Kerala stands at Rs.62,708 crore


  Most Read

Boston students become Muslim for a day

Non-Muslim students at Boston University have volunteered to spend a day wearing headscarves as part of the university’s March’s Islam Awareness Month in a trial to correct misconceptions about  »

In US, nothing comes for free: BJP on 'sponsored' business delegation

The BJP Saturday clarified that neither the US nor "any" state government in India sponsored the visit of the US business leaders delegation that met Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi this week. At the same time  »

Organisers of US group that met Modi sought $16,000 a seat


  News Pick

Why Spamhaus Internet attack was good

It's been a few days since the worst denial-of-service attack in the internet's three-decade history. A 300-gigabit-per-second torrent of traffic flooded the networks of Spamhaus, and the Internet's major switches in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. It was like a million cars trying to get    »

Narendra Modi’s strange bedfellows in Washington DC

From 2009 to 2011, I worked in the US House of Representatives as a senior foreign policy aide where I often organized the overseas trips for a member of Congress. The Congressional calendar is divided broadly in two  »

Protest over 'bogus' Assam silk turns violent, seven injured

At least seven people, including two policemen, were injured after a group of weavers and locals clashed with security forces at Sualkuchi in Assam over the sale of Banarasi silk in the name of Assam silk Saturday.  »

Indians vote like cattle and elect criminals: Markandey Katju

India is not a full-fledged democracy as 90 percent of its people vote like sheep and cattle, Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju  »


Picture of the Day

President of India Pranab Mukherjee released a Commemorative Postage Stamp on Late Yashwantrao Chavan, at the concluding ceremony of the birth centenary celebration of former CM of Maharashtra, Late Yashwantrao Chavan, in Mumbai on March 23, 2013. Union Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Sharad Pawar is also seen.


Recommend the story to your friends



RSS  |  Contact us


| Quick links



Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant



Science & Technology



About us




Government Schemes










Contact us


The Funny Side

Education & Career Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.