In a compelling address that lasted almost an hour to the US Congress, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched on an array of topics, repeatedly earning applause and several standing ovations from the US Congress members, including Vice President Kamala Harris.
A brief summary of the main points from PM Modi’s address:
Fostering ties with the Indian American community:
Modi made sure to highlight the significance of the Indian American community, communicating the value they bring to the United States.
In an homage to American history and diversity, Modi stated, “The very fabric of America was woven by the vision of a nation where all are seen as equals, and throughout your history, you’ve opened your arms to individuals from around the globe, creating a melting pot where all can partake in the American Dream. Among you, there are millions with roots tracing back to India, including some members of this esteemed chamber. Behind me, history has been made.”
Modi humorously mentioned the Samosa caucus, adding, “I trust it will continue to grow and enrich the house with the diversity of Indian cuisine.”
Politics, Polarisation, and National Priorities:
As a leader of another democratic country, Modi empathized with the complex dynamics of American politics while emphasizing the importance of unity for national interests.
Modi acknowledged, “I comprehend the struggles and interplay of pressure, persuasion, and policy. I understand the clash of ideas and ideologies. Yet, it’s heartening to witness you coming together today to celebrate the ties between two global democracies, India and the United States.”
He continued, “Although a contest of ideas within our borders is inevitable and necessary, it’s vital we present a united front on the international stage.”
Praising Democracy and its Values:
Modi praised the principles of democracy, a topic he has faced questions about, in a country grappling with its own challenges. He paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. for their work towards “liberty, equality, and justice”.
Modi asserted, “Democracy is a cherished, shared value. It has developed over centuries, taking on various forms and systems. One enduring truth is that democracy promotes equality and dignity. Democracy encourages debate and discourse. It’s a culture that fosters freedom of thought and expression. India has been fortunate to uphold these values since time immemorial. In the evolution of the democratic spirit, India is the cradle of democracy.”
Celebrating 75 years of independence:
Modi commemorated India’s independence and the significance of freedom from foreign rule.
Modi said, “In the past year, India celebrated 75 years of independence. We marked a notable journey of freedom following a millennium of foreign rule. This was not just a celebration of democracy, but also of diversity, of our constitution, and of our commitment to social empowerment. Not just of competitiveness and cooperative federalism, but also of unity and integrity.”
Modi showcased the diverse culture of India and its respect for all faiths.
Referring to India’s rich tapestry of languages, dialects, and food, Modi said, “Despite our vast diversity, we speak with one voice. We are a home for all faiths, and we celebrate them all. Diversity is an inherent part of our society.”
He spoke of the global curiosity to learn about India’s development, democracy, and diversity. Modi proudly stated, “Everyone wants to understand India’s path and achievements.”
Highlighting Economic Opportunities:
Modi emphasized the potential of the Indian economy and society, and the opportunities they present.
He proudly recounted, “When I first visited the US as Prime Minister, India was the world’s 10th largest economy. Today, it is the fifth largest and it’s poised to become the third. As India grows, so does the world.”
Modi discussed the important role women play in India’s development, in the armed forces, and in leading the country towards a better future.
Stating, “Today in India, women are at the forefront of our march towards progress…They serve in our Army, Navy, and Air Force. They’ve also led us to Mars with our Mars vision…I believe that empowering women transforms the nation.”
Youth and Technology:
Modi emphasized the role of youth in spearheading the technology revolution in India. He discussed mobile payments, apps, data science, and quantum computing.
Modi stated, “In India, you will find everyone, from street vendors to tech entrepreneurs, making payments via their phones. Last year, nearly half of all real-time digital payments worldwide happened in India.”
Modi underlined the importance of respecting and caring for the environment, highlighting India’s commitment to the Paris agreement and sustainability.
Modi said, “We view the Earth as our mother. In Indian culture, we deeply respect the environment”.
From yoga to vaccines, India’s contribution to global well-being was highlighted.
Modi stated, “We extend our assistance to others in times of disaster, just as we would for our own people. We share our resources with those in need, focusing on building capabilities, not dependencies.”
Modi called for decisive action against terrorism and its state sponsors, in a likely reference to Pakistan.
He said, “Radicalism and terrorism continue to pose a grave threat to global peace, even two decades after 9/11 and more than a decade after 26/11 in Mumbai. These forces constantly shift identities and forms, but their harmful intentions remain the same. Terrorism is a scourge on humanity and there should be no ambivalence in dealing with it.”
Way Forward for India and the US:
Modi underscored that although India and the US have different histories and circumstances, they are united by a common vision and destiny.
He concluded, “Every Indian Prime Minister and American President has taken our relationship further, but the task before this generation is to reach even greater heights. When our partnership flourishes, economic resilience is enhanced, innovation blossoms, science thrives, knowledge expands, and humanity benefits. Our seas and skies become safer, democracy shines brighter, and the world becomes a better place. This is the mission of our partnership. This is our calling for the century.”