All eyes were glued to the coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, September 28th 2014, addressing the Indian American community at the iconic Madison Square Garden. The India diaspora gave a spirited reception to Modi in New York. Madison Square, is the same place where various legends have performed earlier, be it in sports, concerts, political and social events. Narendra Modi is indeed a rock star, the first of his kind in Indian history, when a Prime Minister of our country had received an overwhelming welcome in a country like the United States. On Sunday, he was a celebrity from all angles. It was his third day in the US, in his 5-day tour to the country. He was on his navratri fast but that did not deter his spirits. He arrived in Madison Square dressed in a yellow kurta and peach waistcoat. The Madison Square Garden was packed with more than 18,000 strong audience. The NRI community from around the country and Canada came to have a glimpse of NaMo and hear him speak.
Overwhelming Response from the Audience
Outside Madison Square Garden, it seemed a festival was going on. People were seen doing a bit of Garba — a Gujarati folk dance. The event was organised by the Indian American Community Foundation, a newly-established group. The whole event had the feel of an election rally or party convention.
“Modi! Modi! Modi!” the audience chanted. The audience waved at his poster and quoted his slogans. He got a heroic welcome from the audience that also surprised the 36 American elected officials, including several senators, who were there to welcome him on a personal note. There were many who could have stayed at home and watch him on TV. But no, it was a historic event and they wanted to be there. Loud cheers were heard as the PM’s image appeared on a big screen. The crowd went wild when the PM arrived.
The anchors Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American Miss America and Hari Sreenivasan, Sr. Correspondent PBS, could not do much to hold the attention of the audience as they were more keen to watch Modi. There were various cultural events organised for the day to welcome Modi. Dancers performed the garba, a traditional dance from Gujarat, an artist painted a picture of Narendra Modi while singer Kavita Krishnamurthy sang ‘Vaishnava Jan’ who was also joined by her violinist husband Dr Lakshminarayana Subramaniam. There was also Ambi Subramaniam, enthralling the crowd with his violin strings. India American kids performed to Bollywood numbers and artists showcased Indian culture. But all these programmes were nothing compared to the one-hour inspiring speech Modi gave to the crowd, and that was the highlight of the entire event at Madison Square Garden.
Prime Minister’s Speech
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech was telecast live with English subtitles to big television screens at Times Square. He made his speech from a rotating stage at Madison Square Garden. He impacted the whole world on Sunday with his path-breaking speech. NaMo addressing the Indian community thanked the NRI audience for giving him support to make him the PM, with an assurance that he won’t let them down. He impressed a whole generation on Sunday. He focused on skill development, talent pool, 3D Mantra, and India’s bright economic prospects. Some of the highlights of his speech were:
- Holders of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards would be given life-time visas.
- The Indian community staying in the US for a long time would not have to report to police stations at regular intervals.
- Problems faced by non-Indian American spouses to get visas will be solved soon.
- PIO and Overseas Indian Cards would become one soon.
- US tourists will be given visa on arrival.
- Outsourced diplomatic services will be expanded.
- His 3D mantra was “democracy, demographic dividend and demand”. Highlighting the 3D mantra, he said that these are the three things that only India has and no other nation, and it is time now to take this 3D mantra to India’s path of success.
- As an example of India’s talent pool, Modi cited ISRO’s successful MOM. He said that more focus is on skill development, to harness the talent of Indian youth, to make sure that people are skilled to be job creators.
- He spoke extensively of his government’s initiatives for the economy, about Jan Dhan Yojana, ‘Make in India’, Swatchh Bharat’ mission and ‘Housing for All’ etc.
Modi also said that the Government has a huge responsibility and he promised that he and his party will work their level best to improve the economic conditions of India. He said, “Even the poorest of poor want change, and I assure that we will never let people down.”
At the end he said, “America is the oldest democracy in the world, while India is the largest. The whole world has come and inhabited America, while Indians have gone and inhabited the entire world.”
Strange is the irony of fate. In 2005, when Modi, was the chief minister of Gujarat, he was denied visa to the US when he wanted to address Indian Americans from the same New York stage. On Sunday, he was repeatedly interrupted by cheers and applause in his speech by the audience. He is indeed a living legend, a global leader.