Venue : NRG Football Stadium, Houston, Texas.
Host. : Texas India Forum (TIF), a Houston based non-profit body.
Chief Organiser : Eminent Indian American leader from Indiana, Bharat Barai.
“Largest live audience (about 50,000 + ) ever for an invited foreign leader visiting U.S.A. other than Pope Francis” – said, Jugal Malini, member of the Texas India Forum (TIF) which is the main organizer of the event. This is also PM Modi’s third major address to the Indian community, the first at Madison Square Garden, NYC, in September 2014, and the second in Silicon Valley in 2016 – both of which attracted around 20000 each.
Salient Points :
In an era when people gain key political information through digital delivery systems (FB, Twitter, YouTube, Internet, other social media platforms) the meet at this event between President Donald Trump and Indian PM, Narender Modi, took on the characteristics of an avant gardist appeal through a “direct communication system” in the nature of a public gathering.
This will be viewed as an enhancement of citizen’s access to quality policy information straight from the horse’s mouth.
It is a credit to both the leaders that would have attracted millions of citizens in America, India and many other parts of the world.
This has the potential to take decision making by the people, by the administrators, and by the leadership to a new level hitherto probably not experienced.
This act alone can shape and strengthen the power of political engagement between the two countries in future.
The following 5 aspects need mention here :
1. Both President Donald Trump and PM Modi are the most powerful and popular political leaders as reflected by the amount of attention that they respectively draw from political supporters/opponents, media, analysts, and common people.
2. Both President Donald Trump and PM Modi are champions of people mobilisation, resources, and programs translating ideas into actions.
3. Both President Donald Trump and PM Modi are champions of advancing policies while influencing everyone under their control.
4. Both President Donald Trump and PM Modi are champions of Twitter feed reaching out to their base personally and successfully.
5. Both President Donald Trump and PM Modi are champions of open and inclusive spirit of governance.
Congressional members welcomed Modi first on stage.
Key to Houston was presented to the PM by the Houston Mayor.
Senators Ted Cruz and J Cornyn highlighted the spirit of coordination and peace while welcoming the PM.
Steny Hoyer’s (House Majority Leader) reference to Abraham Lincoln’s words of “malice towards none” and Jawaharlal Nehru’s “wipe the tear from every eye” in combination to form “malice towards none, and wipe the tear from every eye” emphasizing it three times as representing the shared dreams, futures, and vision of both America and India was contextual and inspirational. US is proud of Gandhi’s teachings and Nehru’s vision – he recounted at least thrice. Back in India, this reference would have certainly emboldened the spirit of a good segment of political class and people.
President Donald Trump drew attention to the pride he holds for the 4 million Indians as Americans who brought enormous benefits to the nation. Alluded to the three words – “We the People” – commonly enshrined in the Constitutions of both the nations. He also lauded India’s efforts to bring a huge number of citizens out of poverty. Fulfilling his role for the growth of his nation through striking partnership with India was his big takeaway. Making a strong pitch for investments in America even while drawing effectively the interests of JW Steel in Ohio, and tracing the LNG exports to India ; NBA basketball tournament in Bombay ; Defence equipment and deals ; Space cooperation ; while emphasizing that these exports increase freedom and security for India, was his masterstroke in marketing. Border Security is important to keep the community safe and it is vital for both India and America is his style of justifying his actions to protect the Southern border. President Donald Trump effectively used this forum to promote forcibly and clearly what is essential for America and American interests.
PM Modi while claiming that India aims high and achieves higher said India is challenging and changing to mark its way to a new India. Building toilets for the poor ; providing gas connections to the needed ; ease of doing business ; making data availability at the lowest rates ; simplification of tax returns ; availability of most services online ; are the ones he touted as achievements of his government in 5 years. Admiring Trump’s resolve to fight against terror with full force, he tried to find his way to garner support. Main focus of his speech was highlighting the accomplishments of his government in the last 5 years and he successfully attempted that. He said that people of Jammu and Kashmir were now provided the same rights that people in other states enjoyed. He also placed India as the best destination for FDIs.
The meet and the extravaganza probably had a unique mission to get nationalistic, democratic, with united focus on development, peace, and welfare into their common political agenda even while expecting to persuade others with similar wavelengths (of interest) to take the message clearly on board.
The conversation between President Donald Trump and PM Modi must have fulfilled the first step of ” rebuilding trust and friendship” between the two great democracies in the world that was planted and nurtured during George W Bush – Manmohan Singh era. If it did, it would have signalled a major, major accomplishment.
Whether this event really marks the high point of relations between India and U.S.A. is what the world will be keenly observing.
” Dieu avec nous”
Monday, September 23, 2019 – 12.59 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit: “Ab ke bar, Trump ke sarkar ” – PM Modi in his speech.
” Third Democratic Primary Debate – Restless Energy and Substantive Arguments ” – September 12, 2019.
The Third Democratic Primary Debate was held tonight.
Venue : Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas.
Hosted by : abc News in partnership with Univision.
Candidates : Former VP, Joe Biden ; Sen Elizabeth Warren ; Sen Bernie Sanders ; Sen Cory Booker ; Sen Kamala Harris ; Sen Amy Klobuchar ; Mayor Pete Buttigieg ; Former US rep Beto O’Rourke ; Former US HUD Sec Julian Castro ; and Entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Issues Discussed : Healthcare ; Racism and Gun Control ; Immigration ; Foreign Policy; Afghan War ; Climate Change ; and Education.
Background : First debate after Labor Day, First debate of the Fall, First Democratic Primary with only 10 candidates, First after August mass shootings and Dorian hurricane.
Moderators : George Stephanopoulos ; Linsey Davis; David Muir ; and Jorge Ramos.
Salient features as I observed :
1. Aspects and perspectives that may not have occurred to the minds of citizens were clearly brought out by the moderators through their questions astutely.
2. There is no clear winner in this debate, while everyone scored points enhancing and consolidating their position(s). Even overall.
3. Elizabeth Warren defended her position on issues with aplomb. She was precise, powerful, and clear. Her appeal to the hearts and emotions of the people was solid and effective.
4. Joe Biden maintained a neutral facial expression through the ordeal, kept his voice even , and never shouted or showed aggression. His arguments were positive. His gestures were quite natural without any sign of nervousness. Maintained his standing in terms of popularity.
5. Bernie Sanders’s arguments sounded appealing and believable. He also engaged in providing some pauses during his speech that enhanced the importance of his points. He protected his position among the candidates well.
6. Best rebuttal : Sen Amy Klobuchar’s recall and narration of two incidents when she investigated seriously with billboards and other tools to track the shooter leading to imprisonment was convincing enough to the question of her record for 8 years as prosecutor. Her rebuttal clearly supported her skills in resolving issues positively.
7. Julian Castro attacking Joe Biden asking him to recollect his words “two minutes ago” (indirectly alluding to the age factor ?) lacked civility and may not have been viewed by the observers in good taste. His performance, nevertheless, in this debate is commendable.
8. There has been no interruptions ; no serious aggression and no offense ; and almost nil attacks seriously. The Debate went on in a smooth and well controlled fashion.
9. Sen Amy Klobuchar’s emphasis during the discussion on Climate Change, specially spelling out assertively and authoritatively what she’ll do on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, 4, 5, 6 – like rejoining the Paris Accord ; implementing gas mileage standards .. .. – without depending on the Congress was very powerful and seemed coming from the bottom of her heart. Her description of the challenge as the “existential threat” also stood out as an excellent move. It is bound to make a perceptible impact on the voters.
10. To the final question of how they will recover from their setbacks in life :
Joe Biden said, ” Never explain, never complain when you are down ; Find your purpose when you get up.”
Elizabeth Warren said, ” Resilience is what matters most “.
Bernie Sanders said, ” I have taken on every powerful interest in this country with courage of conviction”.
Kamala Harris said, ” Don’t you let anybody tell you who you are, you tell them who you are”.
Pete Buttigieg said, ” Trust should be reciprocated well.”
Andrew Yang said, ” Allow oneself to live human values and aspirations “.
Cory Booker said, ” Don’t give up on people; trust the power of people “.
Beto O’Rourke said, ” Differences are viewed as foundations to our success and strength “.
Amy Klobuchar said, ” Motivation to public service is special; lead with grit “.
Julian Castro said, ” Try to win the Trust of public faith “.
Conclusion : This has been a debate living up to the right dose of ” ethical appeal, emotional appeal, and logical appeal ” while providing the right and persuasive arguments by almost everyone on the stage.
” Dieu avec nous “
Friday, September 13, 2019 – 9.49 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere ” – Sen Cory Booker.