HOWDY, MODI! Shared dreams, bright futures

HOWDY, MODI! Shared dreams, bright futures

India Post News Service

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the US from September 21 to 27 during which he will address the annual UN General Assembly session and have a series of bilateral and multilateral engagements in New York, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said.

Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Modi will also attend an Indian community event in Houston during the visit.

‘Howdy, Modi!’, the Indian-American community summit, will be hosted by the Texas India Forum, a Houston-based non-profit. The event is expected to be attended by 50,000 people, including influential US lawmakers and political leaders.

President Donald Trump will be visiting Houston for this event with India’s Prime Minister at NRG Stadium. The White House says President Trump will use the “Howdy, Modi! Shared Dreams, Bright Futures” event to “emphasize the strong ties between the people of the United States and India” and reaffirm the two countries’ strategic partnership. The joint event shows “the personal chemistry and friendship” between Trump and Modi, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian Ambassador to the US, told AFP.

“These are two leaders who are used to thinking outside of the box,” he said, describing the joint appearance as “unconventional and unique.”

“The event will also reflect the strong bipartisan support there has been for US-India relations,” he said, describing Indian-Americans as an “organic bridge” between the world’s two largest democracies.

“Houston is one of the most diverse cities in America and has many advantages including a central location and access to global trade routes, a trained and talented workforce, and a business-friendly regulatory environment, making this region an ideal partner for business and commerce,” said Bhavesh Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell.

In 2019 to date, India is Houston’s fourth-largest trading partner, just behind Brazil, China and Mexico. From 2009 to 2018, trade between Houston and India averaged $4.8 billion annually and was valued at $7.2 billion in 2018.

The audience will have the chance to hear Modi’s vision for India and the US-India partnership. The address will have a simultaneous English translation available via smartphone, the organizers said.

Modi will be honored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He will be presented with the 2019 ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’, which, according to the Foundation, is a “special recognition” that celebrates a political leader who has demonstrated a commitment to the Global Goals through impactful work in his or her country and/or globally.

He will also be honored for his leadership of the Swachch Bharat Mission, which he had launched October 2, 2014. The ambitious mission aims to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage in the country by this year as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. So far, 90 million toilets have been built to eliminate open defecation by October 2, 2019, and currently 98 per cent of India’s villages have rural sanitation coverage instead of 38 per cent four years ago.

As the world commemorates Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, Modi will also host a special event ‘Leadership Matters: Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World’ September 24 in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber in the UN Headquarters.

He will also be the keynote speaker at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum September 25. Sources said that after Modi’s keynote address, there will be a Q&A session with the Indian leader moderated by Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies Founder Michael Bloomberg.

The Forum gathers global business and government leaders to discuss innovative and collaborative ways to solve the new challenges to global economic growth, the organization said.

During his visit to New York, Modi will also inaugurate the ‘Gandhi Peace Garden’, an innovative initiative to commemorate Gandhi’s 150 birth anniversary this year. Under this initiative, the Consulate General of India in New York, Long Island-based NGO Shanti Fund and the State University of New York – Old Westbury have entered into an agreement to plant 150 trees. The garden is dedicated to the memory of Gandhi and is a crowd-sourced project, with people adopting trees in the memory of their loved ones. The garden is in an open site within the 600-acre campus of the University.

This will be Modi’s third major address to the Indian-American community after he became the prime minister in 2014 and the first after his re-election in May. The previous two were at the Madison Square Garden in New York in 2014 and the Silicon Valley in 2016. Both the events were attended by more than 20,000 people.

Some four million Americans trace their origins to India and the community is among the most educated and prosperous in the United States. The average Indian-American household earned some $100,000 in 2015, nearly double the US average, according to the Pew Research Center.