” ‘Howdy Modi!’ Event in Houston, TX – ‘Shared Dreams and Bright Futures’ ” – September 22, 2019.
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.