The iconic Madison Square Garden saw an unusual rockstar on Sunday, different from the music legends and the sporting greats it has hosted in the past.
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to the stage before an 18,000-strong crowd, he was nothing short of the charismatic messiah for the Indian Americans. At the end of the day, many NRIs referred to the famous venue as 'Modison' Square Garden, and many Modi aides feel this speech will go down in history.
Shri @narendramodi 's speech at Madison will be remembered,recalled & referred to for a very very long time to come. Historic & noteworthy.
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) September 28, 2014
Here are the main highlights of Modi's speech.
Life-long Visas for PIOs, No Police Station Visits for Long Stays
Modi promised to wipe away perennial visa problems of NRIs in a bid to connect them closer to the country and contribute to its development.
He announced that Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders will get lifetime Indian visas and also promised a merger of PIO and Overseas Citizens of India schemes to facilitate hassle-free travel through common cards.
With an eye on increasing tourism to India, he also announced that American tourists will be given visa on arrival.
He assured to do away with police reporting hassles for those who stay back from home for long durations, thus giving a complete package for NRIs to come back to the country.
What's more, Modi also announced a 'Pravasi Diwas' for Indians who have settled abroad, callings them to join 'Pravasi Diwas' celebrations in Ahmedabad on 8-9 January 2015.
Calls for NRIs to Participate in India's Development
Modi won the hearts of NRIs, often seen as distanced from the country, and urged them to become stakeholders in the 'mass movement of development' in India, even calling for their support in his pet project of cleaning River Ganga.
From inviting them to contribute ideas for governance through the online portal MyGov.in, to thanking them for their support in the elections, Modi resounded with NRIs like no Indian leader has in decades.
The audience, of course, was hooked to every word, even giving the Indian Prime Minister a standing ovation, as chants of "Modi, Modi" filled the charged air.
India's Three Strengths – Democracy, Demography, Demand
Modi highlighted several of India's strengths long known but rarely tapped. While pushing the merits of democracy and India's young demography, Modi, true to his business-centric style, sold India's 1.25 billion population as one of the largest markets in the world with the highest 'demand'.
Modi has been persistently rooting for investments in India and wooing businesses to look at India's market, and this was yet another push in that direction, this time aimed to pool in rich NRI resources.
He reiterated his recently launched 'Make in India' campaign as well and skilfully called for NRIs to invest in India too.
Boosting India's Pride
Apart from his promises, Modi succeeded in building a chest-swelling sense of pride in the thousands of Indian Americans by assuring them of an 'India of their dreams', free of red-tapism, with business-friendly governance and cleanliness.
From referencing the successful Mangalyaan mission to invoking Mahatma Gandhi as an NRI himself, and from speaking of India's prowess in the field of Information Technology to confidently stating that the 21st century belongs to India, Modi struck all the right chords in his first address to the Indian American community in New York.