Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi probably has good associations with New York City. In the fall of 2014, shortly after his election, he gave a rapturous speech at Madison Square Garden that drew more than 19,000 attendees. At U.N. headquarters, he’s often been an imposing, aggressive presence, especially during climate negotiations. He’s happy to stop at the city on diplomatic trips to the U.S., whether it’s to dine with Fortune 500 CEOs or schmooze with politicians. In spite of some protests at his last visit, the capital of American capital has been kind to Modi.
This continues to be the case even during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, billboards in a near-empty Times Square are going to blare images of the Hindu deity Rama and the Ram Mandir, a temple devoted to the figure that will be opening in the Indian city of Ayodhya on the same day. Modi will attend the lavish opening ceremony in the Uttar Pradesh city along with other prominent politicians and devout Hindus.