Underlining that India and the US come from different circumstances and history, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that this visit is one of the “great positive transformation” and together they will demonstrate that “democracy is better and democracies deliver”.
Recalling Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Congressman John Lewis for their contribution towards “liberty, equality and justice”, PM Modi said, “democracy is one of our sacred and shared values. It has evolved over a long time and taken various forms of systems. Throughout history, however, one thing has been clear: democracy is the spirit that supports equality and dignity.”
“Democracy is the idea that welcomes debate and discourse, democracy is a culture that gives wings to thoughts and expression. India is blessed to have such values since times immemorial. In the evolution of the democratic spirit, India is the mother of democracy…Together we shall give a better future to the world and a better world to the future,” he said.
Modi, who addressed the joint session of the US Congress for almost an hour punctuated by applause and standing ovation for the second time, said, “When I was here in 2016, I said that our relationship is primed for a momentous future. That future is today.”
Recalling the “deeply disruptive developments” in the last few years, he said, “With the Ukraine conflict, war has returned to Europe that is causing great pain in the region….countries of the Global South have been particularly affected. The global order is based on respect for the principle of the UN charter, peaceful resolution of disputes and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“I have said directly and publicly, this is not an era of war,” he said recalling his words to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “but it is one of dialogue and diplomacy and we all must do what we can to stop the bloodshed and human suffering”.
He also took on China, as he said, “The dark clouds of coercion and confrontation are casting their shadow in the Indo Pacific. The stability of the region has become one of the central concerns of our partnership.”
“We share a vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo Pacific… A region where all nations small and large are free and fearless in their choices. Their progress is not suffocated by impossible burdens of debt,
where connectivity is not leveraged for strategic purposes,” he said.
Focusing his attention to the new sectors of defence and critical technology, he said, “We were strangers in defence cooperation at the turn of the century. Now, the United States has become one of our most important defence partner.”
“When I speak about India’s approach to the world, the United States occupies a special place. I know our relations are of great importance to all of you. Every member of this Congress has a deep interest in it. When defence and aerospace in India grow, industries in the state of Washington, Arizona, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Pennsylvania thrive.”
“When American companies grow, their research and development centers in India thrive. When Indians fly more, a single order of aircrafts creates more than a million jobs in 44 states in America,” he said.
“When American phone makers invest in India, it creates an entire ecosystem of jobs and opportunities in both countries. When India and the US work together on semiconductors and critical minerals, it helps in making supply chains more diverse, resilient and reliable,” he said.
He said, “we are united by a common vision and by a common destiny. When our partnership progresses, economic resilience increases, innovation grows, science flourishes, knowledge advances, humanity benefits. Our seas and skies are safer, democracy will shine brighter and the world will be a better place. That is the mission of our partnership. That is our calling for the century.”
“Even by the high standards of our partnership, this visit is one of the great positive transformations. together we shall demonstrate that democracy is better and democracies deliver. I count on your continuous support to the India US partnership,” the Prime Minister said.
In his speech, he also lauded the contribution of Indian Americans, including that of Vice President Kamala Harris.
“The Foundation of America was inspired by the vision of a nation of equal people throughout your history, you embrace people from around the world and you have made them equal partners in the American Dream…that are millions here who have roots in India. Some of them sit proudly in this chamber. And there is one behind me who made history,” he said, pointing towards Harris.
“I am told that the Samosa caucus is now the flavour of the house. I hope it grows and brings the diversity of Indian cuisine,” he said, drawing peals of laughter.
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Modi also said there can be “no ifs or buts” in dealing with terrorism and sought action against state sponsors of terrorism, in a veiled attack on Pakistan.
He said that more than two decades after 9/11 and more than a decade after 26/11 in Mumbai, radicalism and terrorism still remain a pressing danger for the whole world.
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“These ideologies keep taking new identities and forms, but their intentions are the same. Terrorism is an enemy of humanity and there can be no ifs or buts in dealing with it. We must overcome all such forces sponsoring and exporting terror,” Modi said in his 60-minute address in English.