LOS ANGELES, CA – That Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the US by storm in his recent visit. and more than achieved his goal of bonding with the diaspora is now history. To Modi’s US supporters who had passionately campaigned for him it was a reaffirmation of faith while the fence-sitters were forced to make a choice...
India Journal spoke with a cross section of SoCal Indian-Americans some who had travelled to New York to be part of the 20,000 who heard the PM speak at Madison Square Gardens and to others who followed his every move on varied media platforms.
Vijay Telkikar, Gopal Chaturvedi, Viajy Patil where among the SoCal delegation who got front row seats at Madison and later got to interact with the PM at a special invitation dinner hosted by the Indian Embassy in New York at the Taj Pierre Hotel on Sept 28. As Telkikar apty put it “ the experience was ‘Fantabulous.’Breaking it down he added “it was fabulous, humongous and gorgeous. PM Modi invoked pride among us Indian-Americans by telling the world that Indians do not play with serpents any more they play with the mouse and with it they can turn and spin planet earth.” Madison became ‘Modi-is-on’ as Modi arrived on the Circular Garden of World Politics. All in the delegation were impressed with Modi’s reference to ‘India’s Three Vital D’s. Largest Democracy,Young Indians’ Demographic Dividend, Largest middle class with largest Demand. These 3 D’s exist only in India and no other country. Therefore India is an International Investor’s Paradise, Modi concluded.
Vijay Patil , General Secretary of Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) Los Angeles Chapter, felt humbled and fortunate to be among the 20,000 who attended. He thought it a great honor that Modi was the first Indian PM who was welcomed by some 40 US Congressmen, Senators, Governors including Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Governor Nikki Healy and California Congressman Ed Royce, and got a grand welcome from Indian delegations from all states to boot! The positive energy at the venue was palpable. All differences seemed to melt as a huge Muslim delegation was seated beside the OFBJP one. Modi hit it off with all when he promised to make ‘India of your dreams’ an India where the system was working and which offered a level playing field for all. This brought the loudest cheers and applause. Patil was pleased to have met and interacted with other prominent leaders from India including Vijay Jolly, in charge of the Overseas BJP.
For Gopal Chaturvedi it was the ‘greatest event.’ What impressed him most was Modi’s focus on the role of the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) to serve the native land. and his appeal to the wealthy and skilled NRIs to give back their talent and experience to a country that nurtured them. Giving Mahatma Gandhi as an example Modi described him as the greatest NRI who returned back to India to serve. This was highly inspiring to all present. Even at the dinner event Modi went all out to find out from those who met him what more he could do to help NRIs.
Harry Sidhu, Former Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem and 2016 Candidate for California State Assembly, who was also present at the dinner event, said Modi urged all present that every Indian-American should send five non-Indian friends to visit India, explaining that tourism can generate income for cabbies, auto-rickshaw drivers - “even tea sellers” - a reference to his origins from selling tea to leading his party in election victory.
As a longtime California business owner and public official, Sidhu welcomed Modi’s emphasis on the importance of improving tourism, job creation, and economic development opportunities. “ The PM understands business, and I share his enthusiastic approach that will benefit U.S./India relations,” he said.
The impression Modi made even on those who did not see or hear him in flesh and blood but just ‘virtually’ was immense.
TV Asia along with Lions Club of Little India, FICSC, OFBJP-LA and COLAIAPA organized a live telecast of the Prime Minister’s speech at the the Amaya Restauran in Buena Park which was attended by a sizeable audience who enjoyed and cheered their Prime Minister every step of the way . At the end high tributes were paid by the show organizers Dilip Butani, Sunil Tolani, Raj Nangia, Amrit Bhandari and Maninder Singh Sethi.
For Rangaesh Gadasalli of FIA ..one thing that surprised the media and the press was that Narendra Modi proved them wrong. All the press in India and all the anti Modi front in US had ruled him out and he won a historic victory in India and got a historic reception in the US, one thing about the US is always right, they respect the mighty and powerful.
OFBJP – California Coordinator, P.K. Nayak said Modi’s visit was inspirational not only to the Indian-Americans but to US political leaders and corporate top brass as well. Modi represented India strongly and firmly making us all proud.
Avijit Datta an entrepreneur from Brea said“Modi had little choice as to what the content of his speech should be. I believe it pretty much achieved that. The content was fiery and full of promise. It was meant to titillate and it did. It was aimed at mollifying the NRI and succeeded in igniting the American Indian community’s patriotic zeal while reinstating a strong sense of hope and pride within them. The strategy was to address the small, yet significant, issues like cleanliness implying anti corruption and housing that go to build a nation’s backbone. He did that well and displayed a good understanding of what he felt the audience wanted to hear. The danger, though, is the old political strategy of over committing and thus opening oneself to failure and loss of confidence amongst his people. The loftier the promises, the harder they fall. Building “an India of our dreams” is a good line and bound to evoke feelings of pride and patriotism but also has the downside of promising beyond what can realistically be delivered. I personally would have liked to see more balanced objectives to have been set which have a realistic chance of being achievable in the next few years.” Another entrepreneur Rashi Bahri said the PM’s visit has galvanized the NRI community like no Prime Minister before him, re-affirming our pride of being Indian and representing India in the world.. For Vinay Mittal, a businessman from Chino Hills Modi’s speech was not flowery with lofty language or goals, but simple, down to earth, and practical which focused on small evolutionary changes not the revolutionary.
Uma Mani, a house wife from Norwalk said she was proud to be an Indian and so proud to have Modi as the Prime Minister of India. Alia Shah, a student said she was greatly impressed with Modi’s speech and how he presented India as a progressive country to the US. For writer and author Hiro Badlani Modi’s visit was like a whiff of fresh air. Modi conducted himself with grace, dignity, and confidence. His oratory remained as usual his main asset. New Yorker Neeta Bhasin, has had the opportunity to meet former Prime Ministers Morarji Desai , Atal Bihari Vajpayee and . I K Gujral during their visits to the US. She has now added Modi to the list. Making it clear that she did not belong to any political party, she said she believes in supporting those who are willing to do good for the country. Knowing Modi’s humble back ground and listening to his speech, Bhasin said she was convinced that he will change the image of India in the US and in other countries. “My belief in him and in his integrity, strengthened when I met him personally at the dinner hosted by Ambassador of India Dr. S Jaishankar. Although, he was fasting for Navratri, he met 750 people personally, spoke to them and had a picture taken with all of them. Hats off to him!”.