Washington: Addressing a joint session of US lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today, “For my government, the Constitution is its real holy book.” He ended the 46-minute speech with a namaste.
Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet to this story:
- “In that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights,” the Prime Minister said, asserting that “India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one.”
- US lawmakers had said they wanted to hear the PM speak about India’s human rights record and how his government is protecting women and religious and ethnic minorities.
- The Prime Minister had his audience on its feet multiple times in standing ovation, also when he spoke on the need to delegitimize terrorism, saying “Those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice.”
- “Although its shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood,” PM Modi said in a pointed reference to Pakistan, without naming it.
- PM Modi said deeper U.S.-Indian security cooperation should isolate anyone who harbors, supports or sponsors terrorists, and separate religion from terrorism. “I commend the members of the U.S. Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains,” he said to much applause.
- The PM drew laughter when he smiled and said, “I am informed that the working of the U.S. Congress is harmonious. I am also told that 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 our Upper House.”
- There was more laughter when the PM said, “Siri tells us that India’s ancient heritage of Yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the U.S. It is estimated that more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball. And, no Mr. Speaker, we have not yet claimed intellectual property right on Yoga.”
- Making a strong pitch for a strong India-US partnership, PM Modi reiterated that “our relationship is primed for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place.”
- PM Modi is the fifth Indian leader to make a speech to Congress since 1985. He has visited the US four times after winning the national election in 2014 and has met seven times with President Obama.
- The warmth between President Obama and the PM has been discussed extensively in the US media. The President “has spent more time with Modi than with leaders of some of America’s closest allies,” said The Washington Post, which also highlighted that as Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Modi had been denied a visa to the US over the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002. “Instead of holding a grudge, Modi has embraced closer ties with the US,” the report said.