All's well in India, says PM at 'Howdy Modi' rally; Trump hints about visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump at NRG Stadium, Sept. 22, 2019, in Houston for the 'Howdy, Modi' event | Photo: AP/PTI
“All’s well in India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an estimated 50,000 members of the Indian diaspora in Houston on Sunday at an event titled Howdy Modi and days after his government slashed corporate tax to address concerns of an economic slowdown.

The PM concluded his rousing speech by inviting US President Donald Trump, along with his family, to visit India soon, and the two leaders with their hands clasped, took a round of the stadium waving at the crowd in a gesture to convey the strength of their friendship to which both had alluded to in their respective speeches.

Earlier, addressing the Indian diaspora at the NRG Stadium in Houston, the US President hinted at visiting India as early as October, while Modi seemed to endorse his support for Trump’s re-election next year, and suggesting to the Indian-American community to do the same, by declaring “abki baar Trump sarkaar”. 

During his speech, the US President received loud cheers when he said India and the US were united in their fight against “radical Islamic terrorism”, which is likely to be interpreted as a message to Pakistan. Modi spoke of his government’s decision to scrap the provisions of Article 370, and received sustained applause, and asked the audience to give a standing ovation to all members of the two Houses of Parliament.

While not mentioning Pakistan by name, the PM said the decision has inconvenienced some people who cannot take care of their own country, who nurse and support terrorism. He said the time has come for a “decisive battle against terrorism and people who support terrorism”. He said the US President is standing against terrorism with all his strength, and asked people to give him a standing ovation.

The PM said the days of “incremental change” in India were over, and it has transformed rapidly in the last five years. He spoke of the various social welfare measures taken by his government and the objective to make India a $5-trillion economy.

On economy, the PM said India’s growth rate, despite the uncertainties in the world, was 7.5 per cent in the last five years, which he said was unprecedented for any government that has completed its tenure. He said it is the first time that such growth was achieved along with low fiscal deficit and low inflation. He said India is a now a favoured FDI destination, and elaborated on recent decisions to open up FDI in several sectors, including mining.

The PM said energy sectors CEOs, whom he met on Saturday, told him they were encouraged by the cuts in corporate tax. “Their feedback is that the cut in corporate tax has sent a positive message not just in India but among global business leaders. This decision will make India a competitive destination for business,” Modi said.

He said India now offers limitless possibilities to Americans to do business. “Our target of $5-trillion economy, the journey to build a ‘new India’ and the strong economic growth under President Trump’s leadership will give wings to these possibilities,” Modi said.

Modi said he is scheduled to have talks with President Trump over the next two-three days, and he hoped these will throw up “positive results”. He said Trump calls him a “tough negotiator”, but he himself is also an expert in the “art of the deal”. “I am trying to learn much from him,” Modi said, appealing the Indian diaspora to join in this “forward march” and become its “driving force”.

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