The Kiwi-Indian community is buoyed by the first-ever meeting between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, and the prospects of their individual charisma transforming the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The much-awaited meeting between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi had happened in Manila on Tuesday, November 14, on the sidelines of East Asia Summit.

Mr Modi had described his meeting with the New Zealand Prime Minister as “wonderful” adding that they discussed deepening economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries.

"Wonderful meeting with PM @jacindaardern. We discussed deepening economic and cultural cooperation between India and New Zealand," Mr Modi wrote in his twitter post.

Mr Modi also congratulated Ms Ardern on becoming the Prime Minister and discussed steps to expand bilateral relations across sectors.

Jacinda-Modi magic waiting to happen

While Ms Ardern, the new heartthrob of the nation who is currently on a mission to re-brand New Zealand at the international stage by speaking out loud and clear on issues that she is passionate about, Mr Modi had been ahead of her in a similar journey of re-branding his country, India, at the world stage.

In that respect, both leaders probably share a similar intent and therefore another converging interest, among the bucket of interests that both nations share with each other. 

The bilateral relationship between NZ and India is bound by the common threads of commonwealth, cricket and people to people engagement and currently also defined by the protracted talks on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

However, there are wide expectations within the Indian diaspora in New Zealand, and a sincere belief among many key stakeholders within the government and beyond, on both sides, that this relationship can grow exponentially in the near future.

In this regard, one key element that could transform this relationship irreversibly is by having a passionate-charismatic political leadership at the top.

This, when added to the placement of diaspora firmly at the driving seat of bilateral relationship can have a transformational impact.

Currently, both these conditions appear to be nearly met, with two charismatic leaders at the top and a vibrant diaspora longing for the betterment of relations between the two countries.

To make it better, both Ms Ardern and Mr Modi had invited each other for a bilateral visit to their countries.

Now it’s for their respective foreign offices to work out and plan a mutual state-visit of the two leaders – a prospect that is always welcomed by the Kiwi-Indian community.

And going by the instinct, a visit by Mr Modi is long due to this part of the world.

It is important to note that the benefit of having such passionate and charismatic leaders at the top of two countries’ political leadership, is that they are capable of taking bureaucratic hurdles out, even if perceived ones, from the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Indian media more generous than NZ media about the Jacinda-Modi meeting

Another key observation post this Jacinda-Modi meeting in Manila is that local Indian media was more generous in reporting about the meeting.

Many prominent English daily newspaper of India have reported about Mr Modi’s meeting with Ms Ardern with some specially mentioning about 37-year-old Ms Ardern being the youngest female Prime Minister in the world.

A similar attention was missing in the NZ mainstream media, despite Indian-origin people representing a meaty 6 per cent of the total NZ population.

Probably, signalling that the size of the population [of the diaspora] alone was not enough to incite a more meaningful reporting from the mainstream media about the first-ever meeting between the two Prime Ministers.