Prime Minister Modi: The 21st Century Belongs to India


September 30, 2015

By Geeta Goindi

Top: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the gathering at the Community Reception held in his honor at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA. Below left, he greets US lawmakers, from left to right, Congressmen Eric Swalwell, Ami Bera, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, and Ed Royce. Photo credit: PIB India

September 30, 2015

By Geeta Goindi

Top: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the gathering at the Community Reception held in his honor at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA. Below left, he greets US lawmakers, from left to right, Congressmen Eric Swalwell, Ami Bera, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, and Ed Royce. Photo credit: PIB India

San Jose, California – In a sequel to his rock star reception at New York’s Madison Square Garden a year ago, on September 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told some 18,000 people who packed the SAP Center on Sunday that this century belongs to India.

Wearing a white kurta with churidaar topped by a beige jacket, he pointed out that while earlier the focus was on Asia, the world now believes “the 21st century belongs to India.  Today, people in every corner of the world look at India with trust and optimism”, he said.  Referring to BRICS, which represents the major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, he proudly proclaimed, it is the ‘I’ in the group that is standing tall.

Clearly, the Indian leader is a master orator and he held a huge crowd engrossed with his speech, in Hindi, which spanned almost an hour and provided a fitting finale to an impressive weekend visit to Silicon Valley, the high-tech hub of the world!

The Prime Minister lavished praise on the Indian-American community which continues to set a shining example in America!  Scarcely a week goes by when an Indian-American is not in the news for some brilliant accomplishment!

 “India has a new identity in the world and the credit goes to the Diaspora”, Modi declared.  “It is the magic of your fingers.  You have used your computers to change India’s image”.  In a veiled message, he warned, the country that does not change will become irrelevant in the 21st century.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US elected officials at the SAP Centre in San Jose, CA. Seen from left to right are: Mayor of San Jose Sam Liccardo, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Congressman Mike Honda, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Congressmen Ed Royce and Jerry McNerney, Prime Minister Modi, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen John Garamendi and Ami Bera. Photo credit: PIB India

Among the special guests at the SAP Center reception were influential lawmakers: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard and Loretta Sanchez; Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce, Congressmen Mike Honda, Ami Bera, Jim McDermott, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Eric Swalwell; and the Mayor of San Jose Sam Liccardo.

Addressing the gathering, Modi underscored, “The two major challenges facing the world today are terrorism and global warming”.  He disclosed that he has written to world leaders imploring them to identify terrorist countries and their supporters.  “The definition of terrorism should be stated in black and white”, he said.  “There is no good and bad terrorism.  It is against humanity!”

India, he averred, will forge ahead because it is a young nation: 65 percent of the population is below the age of 35.  It is destined to make progress, he said, noting that today, it is the fastest growing major economy in the world.

Calling on Indian-Americans to contribute their skills for India’s progress, Modi denied the notion of a brain drain. Expressing confidence that brilliant members of the diaspora will one day benefit India, he called it a “brain deposit”.  Did anybody ever think that this brain drain could become brain gain?, he asked.

Touting his ‘Digital India’ initiative, he spoke about the penetration of technology.  Now, Indians from all walks of life have a cell phone, he said.

The Prime Minister commended their generosity, noting that 30 lakh people have voluntarily surrendered their gas subsidy.  “This is the strength which will take the country forward”, he said.

He announced to the crowd in California that beginning from December 2 this year, Air India will offer a direct flight from Delhi to San Francisco three times a week.

Both at the outset and conclusion of the community reception, he paid tribute to freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his 108th birth anniversary and exhorted the gathering to chant, “Veer Bhagat Singh Amar Rahe”!

Sikhs came to California in the 19th century as farmers and settled here, he noted.  The Ghadar Party was formed by Punjabi Indians in the US and Canada which aimed to secure India’s freedom from British rule, he recalled.  Citing examples of Indians connected with California, he mentioned that Dhan Gopal Mukerji was the first graduate of Stanford University in 1914, and Dalip Singh Saund was the first Sikh American elected to the US Congress in 1956.

Clockwise from top left: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing some 18,000 people who packed the SAP Center in San Jose for the Community Reception held in his honor; Prime Minister Modi with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and Congressmen John Garamendi and Ami Bera (right); Indian playback singer Kailash Kher performing at the reception

The SAP Center program opened on an entertaining note with traditional dances of India, followed by Indian playback singer Kailash Kher belting out his signature songs, much to the delight of the audience.

In a statement welcoming the Indian leader to California, Congressman Royce said, “With Prime Minister Narendra Modi in office, we have the opportunity to reinvigorate US-India relations and bring our partnership to new heights”.

The powerful lawmaker believed that Modi’s “visit to Silicon Valley will undoubtedly bring the US and Indian tech sectors closer together, helping to deepen our strong and growing economic ties”.

 “Yet, we still have much room for growth”, he stated.  “In order to reach this potential, it is critical that we move forward on a high standard Bilateral investment Treaty which would remove significant barriers to investment and reduce uncertainty”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets US lawmakers backstage in San Jose's SAP Center, at the Community Reception held in his honor. He is seen with, clockwise from top left: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce; Congressmen Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi (center); and Congressman Jim McDermott. Photo credit: PIB India

The lawmaker added that the visit “is about more than deepening our commercial relations.  It’s about building ties between the people of our two countries.  There is no better bridge between our two countries than the Indian-American community, and I applaud the Prime Minister for his outreach to this thriving community”, he said.

Congresswoman Gabbard, the first and only Hindu legislator serving on Capitol Hill, noted that Prime Minister Modi’s visit “has been focused on technology and innovation and how they can be leveraged to empower people in both of our countries.  There are many different areas and sectors where the United States and India’s growing friendship will cover mutually beneficial ground”, she said.  “Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to the United States has allowed us to continue to strengthen those bonds and explore new opportunities for us to work together”.

Earlier, Congressman Garamendi, co-chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, delivered a letter to Modi urging protection of religious freedom in India.  The lawmaker represents one of the largest Indian-American communities in the US including a substantial Sikh population.

 “Many of my constituents are deeply concerned about the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities in India”, Garamendi said in a statement.  “I am grateful that my position in Congress afforded me the opportunity to bring up these concerns to the leader of the world’s largest democracy”.  Noting that “religious freedom and access to justice are rights we cherish here in America”, he emphasized, “Everyone in the world deserves the same access to these fundamental rights”.

Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM