» News » Comfort, candour, convergence define our ties: 20 things Modi said in the US Congress

Comfort, candour, convergence define our ties: 20 things Modi said in the US Congress

Last updated on: June 09, 2016 10:12 IST
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IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledges the applause at the joint meeting of the United States Congress, June 8, 2016. The prime minister was greeted by three minutes of applause as he entered the chamber. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered an impassioned speech before the joint sitting of the United States Congress on Wednesday morning local time, a speech that was interrupted multiple times by American Congressmen with a standing ovation and which was peppered with references to American icons like Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman and Norman Borlaug, even baseball.

Modi's speech, delivered in English, lasted almost 50 minutes.

The prime minister, clad in a white <en<kurta-pajama and a grey jacket, walked through the central aisle of Congress greeting members and acknowledging their welcome with a handshake. On reaching the podium, he folded his palms in a Namaste to the House.

Some of the points Modi made in his address to the US Congress.


This temple of democracy has encouraged and empowered other democracies the world over. It manifests the spirit of this great nation which, in Abraham Lincoln's words, was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.


On landing in America, I paid tribute at the Arlington cemetery where your bravest soldiers rest after sacrificing their lives to protect freedom and liberty. India knows what their sacrifice means, because our soldiers have fallen in distant battle fields for the same ideals. Threads of freedom and liberty form a strong bond between our two democracies.


The idea that all citizens are equal is central to the American constitution. Our founding fathers too believed in it and sought individual liberty for every citizen.

India lives as one, grows as one, celebrates as one. For my government, the Constitution is the real holy book. 800 citizens of my country exercise their franchise every five years. But all 1.25 billion citizens of India have freedom from fear.


The genius of B R Ambedkar was nurtured in the time he spent in Columbia University a 100 years ago. Our independence was ignited by the same idealism that marked your struggle for freedom. No wonder former prime minister A B Vajpayee called us 'natural allies'.


Our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candour, convergence define our relationship today. The US Congress has helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership.


I am informed that the working of the US Congress is harmonious. I am also told you are well-known for your bipartisanship. Well, you are not alone. Time and again I have also witnessed a similar spirit in the Indian Parliament, especially in Upper House. As you can see, we have many shared practices.


It is estimated that more Americans want to do yoga than to throw a curve ball. And no, we are not claiming intellectual property rights on yoga.


Connecting our two nations is a dynamic bridge of three million Indian Americans (standing ovation). Today they are among your best CEOs, academics, astronauts, doctors, even spelling bee champions (standing ovation). They are your strength. They are also the pride of India. They symbolise the best of both our societies.


My understanding of your great country began much before I entered public office. I had travelled coast to coast, covering more than 25 states of America. I realised then that the real strength of the US lay in the dreams of its people, and the boldness of their ambitions. Today a similar spirit animates India. My dream is to economically empower Indians through social and economic transformation, and to do so by 2022, the 75th anniversary of our independence.


My to-do list is long and ambitious. A vibrant and strong agricultural sector. A roof over each head and electricity for all. To skill millions of our youth, build hundred smart cities, have broadband for a billion people and to connect our villages to the digital world. Create a 21st century rail and road infrastructure. These are not just aspirations, but goals to be reached in a finite timeframe (standing ovation).


In every sector of India's forward march, I see the US as an indispensable partner. Many of you also believe that a stronger and prosperous India is in America's strategic interest. Let us work together to convert shared ideals into practical cooperation.


There can be no doubt that in advancing this relationship both of us stand to gain. India's strong economy and growth rate are creating a new opportunity for our mutual prosperity, through transformative US technology in India and growing investment by Indian companies in America.


The 21st century has brought great opportunities but also its own challenges. While some parts of the world are islands of growing prosperity, others are mired in conflicts. Threats of terrorism are expanding and new challenges are emerging in cyber and outer space. Global institutions conceived in the 20th century seem unable to take on new responsibilities.


Our engagement can make a difference by promoting cooperation not conflict, connectivity not isolation, inclusive not exclusive mechanisms, respect for global commerce and norms. A strong US-India partnership can anchor peace and prosperity from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, from Asia to Africa.


Not just in Afghanistan, but in South Asia and elsewhere, terrorism remains the biggest threat. From the west of India to the African coast different terror outfits with different names exist, but all share the same, common philosophy. Its shadow is across the world but it is incubated in India's neighbourhood.


The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels, and the traditional tools of diplomacy and military are not enough to combat this threat. Those who believe in humanity must come forward to fight against it as one and to speak against in one voice (standing ovation).


We are working together to create a better future for not just ourselves but for the whole world. As we deepen our partnerships, there would be times when we would have different perspectives.


As we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine, but on transformation of all ideas, ideas which can focus on not just creating wealth but also creating value for our societies. Not just on immediate gains but also long-term benefits. Not just on solving best practices but also shaping partnerships.


It's important for the success of this journey to view it with new eyes, new sensitivities, and when we do this we will realise the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.


I would say it is time for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us, and foundations of the future are firmly in place. In the lines of Walt Whitman, the orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal. And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play.

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