Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an impressive debut in America with his speech at the Madison Square Garden here on Sunday afternoon.
In an address aimed at pleasing the Indian-American community, Mr. Modi played his card of development and good governance, and said he wanted to make the people of India a partner in the country’s development.
Serving his old and tested cocktail of “development, information technology and demographic dividend,” he said the people of India had elected him for performing “bigger tasks.”
Mr. Modi received applause very early in his speech when he alluded to India’s IT power by making a joke about how India had suffered a “devaluation” from being called a country of “snake charmers” to a nation of “mouse charmers.”
Mr. Modi cited his government’s achievements, especially the recent mission to Mars and said he was committed to fulfilling the aspiration of every Indian.
“My dream is that by 2022, which is the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, no one in India should be without a home,” he said.
He announced that every person holding a PIO (Persons of Indian origin) card would get a life-long visa for India.
The streets of New York wore a festive look on Sunday morning as thousands of Indians, many wearing traditional Indian outfits, gathered at the Madison Square Garden to listen to Mr. Modi.
Others came in groups, wearing Modi T-shirts and carrying placards with welcome messages.
By the time the event started at 11 am (local time), most of the seats at the venue were filled. Many enthusiastic groups occasionally broke into chants of “Vande Mataram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai.”
A group of Muslims, wearing traditional sherwanis and skullcaps, and hijabs, were seated in one of the front rows, waving enthusiastically as cameras repeatedly focused on them.