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Modi wave hits New York
October 1, 2014, 3:26 pm

In an Wall Street Journal Op-Ed titled, Unleashing India’s energy and Drive’, which was published a day before his trip to the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote: “There is a high tide of hope for change in India… A young nation with 800 million people under age 35, India is brimming with optimism and confidence. The young people’s energy, enthusiasm and enterprise are India’s greatest strength. Unleashing those attributes is my government’s biggest mission.”

The Prime Minister went on to write: “We will pursue this mission by eliminating unnecessary laws and regulations, making bureaucratic processes easier and shorter, and ensuring that our government is more transparent, responsive and accountable. It has been said that doing the thing right is as important as doing the right thing.”

“We will make our cities and towns habitable, sustainable and smart; and we will make our villages the new engines of economic transformation. ‘Make in India’ is our commitment—and an invitation to all—to turn India into a new global manufacturing hub. We will do what it takes to make it a reality.”

Mr. Modi pointed out that “India will pursue its dreams in partnership with our international friends. History tells us that India’s natural instinct is to be open to the world. India will be open and friendly — for business, ideas, research, innovations and travel. In the coming months, you will feel the difference even before you begin your travel to India.”

Prime Minister Modi’s speech to a crowd of at least 6,000 ‘global’ citizens in the heart of New York and his address to thousands of Indian-Americans in Madison Square Gardens, reflected the views aired through the op-ed.

In New York during a four-day blitz of meetings with dignitaries, CEOs of preeminent US corporations and Indian-American community representatives Mr. Modi delivered a power-pitch on the untapped potential of India’s growth opportunities. He told the captains of American industry, who may have concerns regarding investing in India, “India is open-minded. We want change, change that is not one-sided.”

While the Prime Minister was reported to have answered some tough questions about his government’s plans to reform and attract more foreign investment he also pitched for ramping up investment in India, particularly in infrastructure, and spoke of his favorite theme of ‘Make in India’ for partnerships with US companies.

Apart from trade-related matters, two issues that featured high in the prime minister’s trip to the US were international terrorism and relations between India and Pakistan. In his speech before the UN General Assembly, delivered in Hindi, the prime minister made an impassioned plea for a global cooperation on terrorism. He called on the world body to speedily adopt a comprehensive international convention of terror, so that no country could differentiate between “good terrorism and bad terrorism.”

He also spoke of India’s ‘push for peace’ in the region, saying he wanted “serious dialogue” with Pakistan in an “atmosphere free of violence.” Mr. Modi avoided a direct retort to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s harsh language earlier at the UNGA, choosing instead to call on Pakistan to understand its own duty in creating an atmosphere for talks. Sticking to a more restrained line, Mr. Modi added that the focus of the Indian government, when it came to Kashmir, was on providing relief to the victims of the recent floods there. “Not just in India, but we have offered help with whatever means we have to those affected by the floods in Pakistan as well.”

India and the US on Tuesday, 30 September, issued a vision statement “Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go” promising that their ‘strategic partnership’ would work to combat terror threats and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The statement, released prior to the private dinner that President Obama arranged for Prime Minister Modi, also said that the Indo-US partnership will be a ‘model’ for rest of the world.

It said US-India strategic partnership is a joint endeavor for prosperity and peace, and through intense consultations, joint exercises and shared technology, their security cooperation will make the region and world safe and secure. “As leaders of two great democratic nations with diverse traditions and faiths, we share a vision for a partnership in which the United States and India work together, not just for the benefit of both our nations, but for the benefit of the world,” the White House said releasing the statement.

“Together, we will combat terrorist threats and keep our homelands and citizens safe from attacks, while we respond expeditiously to humanitarian disasters and crises. “We will prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and remain committed to reducing the salience of nuclear weapons, while promoting universal, verifiable, and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament,” it said.

Asserting that the US and India will have a transformative relationship as trusted partners in the 21st century, the White House said, “Our partnership will be a model for the rest of the world”. According to the vision statement, the two countries will support an open and inclusive rules-based global order, in which India assumes greater multilateral responsibility, including in a reformed United Nations Security Council. 

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