PM Modi in the US: Standing ovation at US Congress, power walk at White House state dinner

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a state visit to the United States of America, got multiple standing ovations during his address to the joint houses of the US Congress, while the state dinner hosted in his honour at the White House saw a veritable power walk of top business leaders, including Indian-origin people who are now household names in the US.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi greets the gathering at the US Congress. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@narendramodi

Modi was welcomed to the White House by President of the United States of America Joe Biden, First Lady Dr Jill Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.

At the US Congress, members of the house flocked around him.

Then, at the state dinner, the attendees included the top Indian industrialists Mukesh Ambani, with philanthropist wife Nita, and Anand Mahindra; and the best-known Indian-origin business leaders in the United States, such as Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, and Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. 

Designer Ralph Lauren, whose dress was worn by First Lady Jill Biden, was among the attendees, too.

Narendra Modi with Joe Biden and Jill Biden at the White House state dinner. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@narendramodi177
Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff at the state dinner. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@KamalaHarris

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is welcomed to the White House by President of the United States of America Joe Biden, First Lady Dr Jill Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. Photo courtesy: Instagram/whitehouse

Before the Indian prime minister’s address to the US Congress, as he first shook hands with the politicians, chants of “Modi, Modi, Modi” went up in the house.

Narendra Modi shakes hands with Kamala Harris at the US Congress. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@narendramodi

Senator Mark Warner from Virginia, a Democrat and co-chair of the Senate India Caucus along with Senator John Cornyn, was among the prominent faces near Modi. The prime minister shook hands with the vice-president and, after being formally introduced to the US Congress, he began his address.

Modi received applause from his very opening sentences, in which he said “Namaskar” to the gathering and spoke of the “great honour” of addressing the US Congress and the “exceptional privilege” of doing so twice — he was here in 2016. The prime minister said that for this honour, he extended “the deepest gratitude on behalf of 1.4 billion people of India”, drawing thunderous applause.

Modi with Congressman Brad Sherman. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@BradSherman
Modi with Congresswoman Nikema Williams. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@RepNikema

Addressing the gathering, Modi said that he felt the “warmth” of about half the members, who were there in 2016, and the “enthusiasm” of the other half, whom he was seeing for the first time.

During the course of his speech, Modi said, “Standing here seven Junes ago, that is the June when [the musical] Hamilton swept all the awards, I said that the hesitations of history were behind us. Now, our era is at [the] crossroads; I am here to speak about our calling for this century.”

What he said next brought Modi a standing ovation: he referred to the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and “another AI, America and India”.

The prime minister spoke for about an hour, and approached the end of his speech with a poetic line: “Our trusted partnership is like the sun of this new dawn that will spread light all around.”

Modi then read out a line in Hindi from one of his own poems, and translated it in English for the gathering. The essence of the verse was that the rising sun would piece through the dense clouds and dispel the forces of darkness.

After speaking for a few more minutes, as Modi thanked the house and stepped off the dais, there were chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai (Victory to Mother India)!”

Following the speech, Senator Warner said, “Prime Minister Modi’s address to Congress today emphasised the strong friendship that has been built between our two countries, fostered by a range of close economic ties and shared opportunities. I’m pleased to see President Biden and Prime Minister Modi utilise this visit to continue to deepen the bonds between our countries and expand our co-operation on defence, trade, technology, and innovation.”

Narendra Modi and Joe Biden at the White House. Photo courtesy: Instagram/whitehouse

Also read: PM Modi in US: Visit spurs US Senate bill on stronger defence ties through NATO Plus

Warner, who is working to include India in the NATO Plus grouping for better defence ties, said, “It’s also more important than ever — in the face of rising global authoritarianism — that we respect and reaffirm the shared values that form the foundations of our respective nations, such as democracy, universal human rights, tolerance and pluralism, and equal opportunity for all citizens.”

The address by Modi was boycotted by lawmakers Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, and Jamaal Bowman, as a mark of protest.

—With inputs from Press Trust of India