New Delhi/ Houston Sept 22: The three-hour “Howdy Modi: Shared Dreams Bright Futures” – an incredibly important event for the US-Indian relationship being held at sprawling NRG Football Stadium, Houston (Texas), the energy capital of United States – is a unique moment in world history as the leaders of the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy – President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will share a stage speaking to 50,000 Indian-Americans in a brief while.
First time the leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies are appearing together at such an event to share their resolve to build strong partnership. They will showcase the growing US-India geopolitical partnership, commitment to global peace and prosperity through entrepreneurship, hard work and sacrifice of the people of both nations. The presence of these two leaders is also a sign of the positive growing influence of Indo Americans and their invaluable contributions to Texas and the United States.
The mega event, the largest-ever gathering of Indian-Americans for an elected foreign leader visiting the US, other than the Pope is a “win-win” situation not only for both the leaders, but also for their countries.
The message is very loud and clear that US and India are natural allies and this relationship will get stronger as time goes by. Indian-Americans contribute on a per capita basis, the highest to political campaigns. It is in a state that is always significant for elections. It’s a win for President Trump to come to Houston to address this gathering in partnership with Prime Minister Modi.
Texas accounts for 10 per cent of India-US trade, about USD 7 billion worth of US goods and commodities are moved between Texas and India. Some of the largest companies are setting up their headquarters all over Texas, creating jobs and opportunities for Americans and Indian Americans. India is Houston’s fourth largest trading partner today just behind Brazil China and Mexico. It attracts largest influx of Indian population and investment. Houston is uniquely positioned towards this community summit as it is the energy, space and the medical centre capital of the world.
After Houston community summit, Modi and Trump are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday. The two leaders would be meeting for the fourth time in as many months. The meeting in New York is expected to set the tone of the bilateral relations between the two countries over the next few years. The two leaders are likely to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including efforts to address the growing bilateral trade disputes, potential defence and energy deals and peace process in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister’s address to the Indian community is the third address he is doing in the United States. His first was at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2014, the second at the SAP Center at San Jose, California in 2015.
After this community event Prime Minister is also expected to have a separate interactive session with the Members of the US Congress. After that he will leave for New York.
On the 23rd the Prime Minister has several multilateral events in the New York beginning with the Climate Summit organized by the UN Secretary General in the forenoon of the 23rd. Prime Minister is an early speaker and at this event he will showcase what India has done to address Climate Change issues and also India’s expectations and aspirations from the international community to address this very pressing problem.
This event is followed by another event also hosted by the UN Secretary General which is on Universal Health Coverage. The Government’s program of Ayushman Bharat is the world’s largest healthcare initiative and Prime Minister will be focusing on showcasing that at this event.
A third event on the 23rd of September is leader’s dialogue on Strategic Responses to Terrorists and Violent Extremist Narratives. This is a dialogue jointly hosted by His Majesty, the King of Jordan, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the President of France and the UN Secretary General and Prime Minister has been invited to speak at this event. Other speakers, there are other Heads of State and Government, very select, who have also been invited and these include the President of Kenya and Indonesia, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Chancellor of Germany and so on. This is an important event so these are three events on the 23rd that the Prime Minister will attend in the multilateral format.
On the 24th of September there will be a lunch hosted by the Secretary General of the United Nations and in the late afternoon India will organize its own event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in the UN. This event is titled, ‘Leadership Matters – Relevance of Gandhi in Contemporary Times’. Three launches are going to be done at this event as well.
The first is the Gandhi Solar Park which is the installation of solar panel on the rooftop of the UN headquarters from a grant of $1 million that India has given renewable energy and to showcase our commitment to the use of Solar Energy.
The second is the remote inauguration of the Gandhi Peace Garden at the State University of New York Campus at Old Westbury where a 150 trees have been planted in honor of Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary and third is the release of a UN postage stamp on Gandhi Ji.
The last event on that day is the award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ‘the Global Goalkeeper’s Goal’ award. This is at the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts.It is given every year to a world leader for achievement in a specific SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) and the previous winners have been Prime Minister Solberg of Norway and President Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia. This year the Gates Foundation is honoring the Prime Minister for his leadership in the field of sanitation through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
On the 25th of September morning begins with the keynote address at the opening plenary of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum after which Prime Minister will have a conversation with Bloomberg and this will be followed by an investment round table that is being organized i.e. the Government of India and Invest India together at which 40 major companies will be present including companies like JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, American Tower Corporation, Bank of America, MasterCard, Walmart and so on. The objective of this is to get feedback from industry about their business plans in India and to demonstrate government’s business friendly approach in attracting investment into India.
On the 27th of the September the Prime Minister will address the General Assembly. This will be the first time the Prime Minister will address the General Assembly in the High Level Segment after 2014. In 2015 he did visit New York but he did not engage in the high level debate, he was there for the release of the SDG goals. Besides these multilateral meetings Prime Minister will have several bilateral meetings with leaders across all continents. He will co-chair two important pluri-lateral leader’s meetings, both of which Prime Minister attaches importance to.
The first is on the 24th, this is India Pacific Island States Leader’s Meeting. 12 leaders of the Pacific Island states. The following day i.e. 25th the India CARICOM Leader’s Meeting. These are 14 members of the Caribbean community therefore he will interact in these two pluri-laterals with as many as 24 Heads of Delegation of the participating countries and he also, at the moment, intends to have about 20 other leader level bilateral meetings including the meeting with President Trump.
This is the Prime Minister’s first visit to the United States after re-election of the government and the Prime Minister is going to the UN General Assembly with solid achievements in the previous five years in Sustainable Development Goals. India’s intention therefore in participating this year in all the pluri-laterals is to showcase the progress that it has made in issues relating to Climate Change, Universal Health Coverage, Renewable Energy, Sanitation and so on.
Prime Minister is also of the view that it is also important to play the role that is expected of India in shaping the global agenda on many of these issues, both political and socio-economic. And in this context the Prime Minister will again reiterate a position that India has been saying for some time and that is multilateralism is at the center of the global politics and it should remain so but there has to be a reformed multilateralism.
Arrangements that existed or were determined half a century of more ago cannot be sustainable in the 21st century and therefore multilateral system which is reformed, which reflects the new reality, which reflects the fact that India has 1/7th of the world’s population, which reflects that many countries that were not independent in 1945 today play a bigger role than they did earlier, these must be reflected and this is what Prime Minister’s intention will be in all his meetings, both multilateral and bilateral.
Prime Minister will highlight the global relevance of Gandhi Ji in the 21st century, the universality of his message and the bilateral meetings will cover all continents, all regions from our neighborhood, immediate neighborhood, Prime Minister will meet with many of our neighbours as well as countries as far as Latin America. With the United States the engagement is with multiple stakeholders, obviously with President Trump, with Congressional leaders, with business leaders and with Indian community. And after Prime Minister leaves New York, the External Affairs Minister will stay back for a full-fledged visit to Washington DC to engage the United States and to meet with various political and economic figures there. The Prime Minister will depart from New York immediately after addressing the UN General Assembly in the forenoon of September 27.