Sept 26 (Livemint) – President Joe Biden sat down with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday for important talks about the Indo-Pacific region. But first, the leaders caught up on the president’s own family ties to the subcontinent.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told US President Joe Biden that he has brought documents to prove that the Bidens in India were related to him, as the two leaders jokingly discussed the matter during their first bilateral meeting at the White House.
Prime Minister Modi replied in affirmative when Biden asked if he was related to the Bidens in India.
“Was I related?” the president asked when Modi informed him that he has brought along with him a set of documents from the investigations he did on the Bidens in India.
“Yes,” Modi told Biden.
“Mr President, you have talked today and spoken in detail about the Biden surname in India. In fact you had mentioned that to me earlier too. Well, after you mentioned that to me, I looked for documents,” he said.
“Today I have brought along a set of documents, maybe we’ll be able to take this matter market forward, and maybe those documents could be of use to you,” Modi said.
In his opening remarks, going off script, Biden referred to the Biden family in Mumbai.
“These are not part of my prepared remarks but when I was in Mumbai as vice president, I finished meeting with the equivalent of the chamber of commerce. And afterwards the Indian press asked me, do I have any relatives in India?” Biden smiled and Modi chuckled.
“And I said I’m not sure but, when I was elected as a 29-year-old kid in 1972, before I was sworn in, I got a letter from a person named Biden – last name – in Mumbai, from Mumbai. And I said, but I was never able to follow up,” he said.
“The next morning, I had a press conference going away, and the Indian press, some of these folks, said you have five Bidens in India. And although we never admitted it – jokingly – I’ve found out that there was a Captain George Biden who was a captain in the East India Tea Company in India,” Biden said.
The president then turned to Modi and quipped: “That’s hard for an Irishman to admit.”
He then said to the press: “I shouldn’t be so casual with you all. I hope you understand the humour in it.”
Biden then continued: “The end result was he apparently stayed and married an Indian woman and I’ve never been able to track it down, so the whole purpose of this meeting is for him to help me figure it out.” Biden smiled and there was laughter from people in the room.
Decades after he received a letter from someone by the last name of Biden from Mumbai, Mr Biden learned that his “great, great, great, great, great grandfather” had worked in the East India Company.