How Narendra Modi wooed the US Congress

By Alok Soni|9th Jun 2016
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He did that in his first visit to US after assuming the office of the Prime Minister of India, repeated in 2015 and made sure that 2016 is bigger and better.

Known for his public speeches, Narendra Modi was expected to rock the US Congress today with his address. But little did US Senators and representatives expected that this a 45-minute speech would make them give as many as eight standing ovation to the Prime Minister of the world largest democracy. In this speech, Modi shared his experiences from his first visit to US where traveled coast to coast, covering more than 25 states of America. He spoke about the constitution of India, Yoga and acknowledged the contribution of three million Indo Americans.

Modi began his address praising the US Congress for encouraging and empowering other democracies across the world. Here’s how Modi’s historic address to US Congress wooed the congressmen and representatives:


Of shared beliefs

The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the American constitution. Founding fathers of the republic of India too shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India. There were many who doubted India when, as a newly independent nation, chose democracy. But, the people of India did not waver.

Today, across Indian streets and institutions, in its villages and cities, anchored in equal respect for all faiths; and in the melody of hundreds of its languages and dialects.

India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one.

The Constitution is the real holy book for the Indian government. And, in that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights.

While Thoreau's idea of civil disobedience influenced Indian political thoughts, Gandhi's non-violence inspired the heroism of Martin Luther King.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar studied at the Columbia University a century ago, and the impact of the U.S. constitution on him was reflected in his drafting of the Indian constitution some three decades later.

Also read: Modi and Obama push the framework for US-India cyber relationship

US Congress and India

Through the cycle of elections and transitions of Administrations the intensity of Indo-US engagements has only grown and the US Congress has acted as its compass in this journey.

In the fall of 2008, when the Congress passed the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, it changed the very colours of leaves of the relationship between the two nations. India will never forget the solidarity shown by the U.S. Congress when terrorists from across our border attacked Mumbai in November of 2008.


The partnerships

The genius of Norman Borlaug brought the Green Revolution and food security to India. The excellence of the American Universities nurtured Institutes of Technology and Management in India.

Today, S&T collaboration continues to helps India in cracking the age-old problems in the fields of public health, education, food, and agriculture. Ties of commerce and investment are flourishing and India trades more with the U.S. than with any other nation. The flow of goods, services and capital between us generates jobs in both our societies.

Defence purchases by India(from US) have moved from almost zero to ten billion dollars in less than a decade. The cooperation between India and US secures Indian cities and citizens from terrorists, and protects the critical infrastructure from cyber threats.

Related read: US firms have invested $27B since Modi came to power, keen to invest more

Cultural Connect

India's ancient heritage of Yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the U.S. of three million Indian Americans are a unique and dynamic bridge connecting the two nations. Today, they are among America’s best CEOs; academics; astronauts; scientists; economists; doctors; even spelling bee champions. They are America’s strength and the pride of India. They symbolize the best of both our societies.

Before assuming office of Prime Minister of India, Modi travelled coast to coast, covering more than 25 States of America. He realized then that the real strength of the U.S. was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions. Today, similar spirits defines India.

Narendra Modi’s dream

Modi’s dream is to economically empower one billion Indian citizens through many social and economic transformations, and do so by 2022, the seventy-fifth anniversary of India's independence.

Here’s what the to-do list of Modi includes:

  • A vibrant rural economy with robust farm sector;
  • A roof over each head and electricity to all households;
  • To skill millions of our youth;
  • Build 100 smart cities;
  • Have a broad band for a billion, and connect our villages to the digital world;
  • And create a twenty-first century rail, road and port infrastructure.

To achieve these goals in a limited time frame with a light carbon foot print, there has to be a greater emphasis on renewables.

Also read: Everything you want to know about Narendra Modi’s US visits

India - an ideal partner

As the U.S. businesses search for new areas of economic growth, markets for their goods, a pool of skilled resources, and global locations to produce and manufacture, India could be their ideal partner.

India's strong economy, and growth rate of 7.6% per annum, is creating new opportunities for the mutual prosperity of India and US. Today, for their global research and development centres, India is the destination of choice for the U.S. companies. Looking eastward from India, across the Pacific, the innovation strength of the two countries comes together in California.

Of Threats and Challenges

In Asia, the absence of an agreed security architecture creates uncertainty. Threats of terror are expanding, and new challenges are emerging in cyber and outer-space. And, global institutions conceived in 20th century, seem unable to cope with new challenges or take on new responsibilities.

In this world full of multiple transitions and economic opportunities; growing uncertainties and political complexities; existing threats and new challenges; an Indo-US engagement can make a difference by promoting:

  • Cooperation not dominance;
  • Connectivity not isolation;
  • Respect for Global Commons;
  • inclusive not exclusive mechanisms; and above all
  • adherence to international rules and norms.

India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region. A strong India-U.S. partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific. It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas.

The fight against terrorism

In South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat. In the territory stretching from West of India's border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS. But, it’s philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence.

Although it's shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India's neighbourhood. Refusing to reward those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains, is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions. The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels. And, the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight.

India and US need to deepen their security cooperation. And, base it on a policy:

  • that isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists;
  • that does not distinguish between "good" and "bad" terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism.

Terrorism must be delegitimized.


Benefits of India-US partnership

On their own, and by combining their capacities, India and US are responding to global challenges including when disaster strikes and where humanitarian relief is needed. India is one of the largest contributors of troops to UN Peace Keeping Operations.

Often, India and the U.S. have combined their strengths in science, technology and innovation to help fight hunger, poverty, diseases and illiteracy in different parts of the world. The success of this partnership is also opening up new opportunities for learning, security and development from Asia to Africa.

The protection of environment and caring for the planet is central to the shared vision of a just world. It also focuses on new ways to increase the availability and use of renewable energy. A strong US support for India’s initiative to form an International Solar Alliance is one such effort.

Also read: Two years in power – what PM Narendra Modi has done for startups

Embarking on a new journey

As India and US embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, the focus will not be just on matters routine but transformational ideas as well. Ideas which can focus:

  • Not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies;
  • Not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits;
  • Not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and
  • Not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world.

Modi concluded his address with the following lines of Walt Whitman,

The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.

(And to that, there is a new symphony in play)

[Image credits -]

What do you think of this address by the Indian Prime Minister? What are your views on Narendra Modi's US visit? Please let us know in the comments below.