Superstar Welcome to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

By Vinod Doshi, Monroeville, PA



And why not? After 67 years of dynastic rule, economic decline and rampant political corruption in India, the Indian-American Diaspora was eagerly waiting to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi, elected with an absolute majority in the May elections for the first time for any non-Congress government in India. The venue was Madison Square Garden in New York with a seating capacity of 20,000 people.
And what a superstar welcome it was! The head of the government of the world’s largest democracy was visiting the world’s most powerful democracy. No other foreign political leader in US history has received such a tumultuous welcome addressing a large and diverse audience (in the Indian context) of 18,000 people gathered in one place. History was made. It was an experience never to be forgotten.

Doshi Gang at MSG Picture

The event was conceived and managed by the Indian American Community Foundation with 400 US-based organizations as members. Actually 700 organizations had applied but only 400 were approved.

Our Pittsburgh Organization was called “”, with our group leaders Mr. Harilal Patel and Mr. Hitesh Mehta. Each organization was issued tickets depending on the interest shown. 110 people had registered from Pittsburgh but we were allotted only 83 tickets.  As a result, some people who had applied late could not be accommodated. Forty-eight of us went in a bus. Others made their own transportation arrangements.  We had to give full background information for security verification by the local organizer. Several thousand tickets were given out for free on a lottery basis. There were 10 applicants for each ticket given out in the  lottery. People who did not get a ticket — there were several thousands of them — saw the event live outside MSG or on the large screens at the Times Square. Furthermore, the event was also beamed live to forty university campuses nationwide.

The well-managed program was organized with financial support from various social, religious, political, educational, and cultural organizations and temples of all denominations throughout the country; and from individual community, political and industry leaders.

At the end of the fun-filled bus trip (arranged by Chetan Patel), we were dropped a couple of blocks from Madison Square Garden.  People were converging on the venue from all directions. Lines were very long, but orderly. Security was very tight. What was allowed inside and what was not was clearly conveyed to us in advance — no cameras and no note books. Smart-phone cameras were OK. At the entrance, they were checking our tickets against our photo IDs. The whole atmosphere was exciting with a lot of buzz. People were eager to see and hear India’s new prime minister. We received a white MODI T-shirt as a souvenir.

The Indian Diaspora at the Garden represented a wide cross section, and was reassuringly diverse in the Indian context. One could see a large number — roughly 1/3 of the crowd — of women of all ages. Youngsters too were there, many of whom were born and raised here.

Nearly 40 high-profile Congressmen and U.S. senators were there to hear Mr. Modi. Among them, the influential US Senator Chuck Schumer from New York and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Bob Menendez (NJ-D). And these members of Congress: Tulsi Hubbard from Hawaii, Joe Donnely, Jim McDermott, Sandford Bishop, Caroline Malorie and Sheila Jackson Lee. And the Indian-American Republican governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley too was there.

Among the business leaders and educators present were: Microsoft Head Satya Nadela; Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi; Nitin Nohara, Dean of the Harvard Business School; our own Dr. Subra Suresh – President of CMU, and Pradeep Khosla, the Chancellor of UC San Diego.
New phrases/expressions were heard: Modinomics, Modism, “Modi”son Square Garden, Moditva, Modi Movement, Modi Mania, Modi Magic, “Modi”fication, Pradhan Sevak (not Pradhan Mantri)… …
Some of the key Modi Mantras launched were: “Bharat Vikas,” “Swachha Bharat,” and “Make in India.”

As I entered the arena to go to my seat on the second level, I was awestruck to see the welcoming crowd of around 20,000 people – three floors of humanity, buzzing with Modi Mania: people eating, drinking and talking in small clusters, waving Indian flags and taking pictures with their smart phones.  Indian music was blasting away over the PA system. Last minute preparations at center stage were going on at feverish speed. People were wearing the white Narendra Modi T-shirts. The buzz was regularly interrupted by chanting of slogans like “Jai Ho”, “Vande Mataram” and shouts of “Modi …Modi’. The whole atmosphere was jubilant.

Riding on a wave of popularity, with a loud spontaneous outburst of Modi, Modi, Narendra“bhai” Modi entered the arena. The “Modi”son Garden was “Modi”fied–mesmerized by the Modi Magic. In his speech, Modi charmed everyone and connected extremely well with the audience.  It was a rousing and warm welcome indeed. Applause was spontaneous – I counted over 100 eruptions of them in his 1-hour speech.

Indian-Americans have been inspired by his work so far. His vision and mission for this visit seemed very clear – marketing India, and projecting a positive image of India among overseas political and business leaders and with the Diaspora.

He invited everyone to participate in this lofty mission of infrastructure and industrial development of India. “India is very different today,” he declared. Reassuring business leaders worldwide, he told them he had already taken “initiatives towards ending the policy of paralysis and dismantling the barriers to India’s growth.”

India has market, manpower and talent, so, “Come and make in India,” he declared. He wants to unleash India’s energy and drive for growth.
He came, he met and he conquered with his simplicity, honesty, sincerity, and with his progressive leadership and zeal to move India forward. There is now a greater optimism for improving US-India ties.
As I left the arena, I too was in awe of the Modi Magic. The echoes of his overall vision were ringing in my ears. The sincerity in his message was inspiring. I was happy to see in Modi’s message, an assured confidence for a brighter future for India.  ♦

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