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Joe Biden’s Mumbai connection, forefathers stayed back in India

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Washington: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the United states for the first ever in-person meet with President Joe Biden, the two sat down for important talks about the Indo-Pacific region on Friday but before going official the two leaders caught up on the US president’s own family ties to the Asian subcontinent.

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Taking the American President by surprise PM Narendra Modi on Friday told 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.

PM Modi nodded in a big “yes” when Biden asked if he was related to the Bidens in India.

“Was I related?” the president quipped when Modi informed him that he has brought along with him a set of documents from the researches he did on the Bidens in India.

“Yes,” Modi told Biden.

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“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 forward, and maybe those documents could be of use to you,” Modi said.

In his opening remarks, going off script, Biden had 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 Mr 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.

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“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.

Mr Biden then turned to Modi and quipped: “That’s hard for an Irishman to admit.”

Interacting with the press he said, “I shouldn’t be so casual with you all. I hope you understand the humour in it.”

Biden then continued, saying, “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 the room was filled with laughter.

To note, it has been learnt that, decades ago Mr Biden had received a letter from someone by the last name of Biden from Mumbai, and it was at that time when he learned that his “great, great, great, great, great grandfather” had worked in the East India Company.

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