PM Modi addresses US Congress, calls America 'indispensable partner', says terrorism is being 'incubated' in India’s neighbourhood

Addressing a joint sitting of US Congress, PM Modi described America as an 'indispensable partner' and stated that a strong India is in the US' strategic interest.

PM Modi addresses US Congress, calls America 'indispensable partner', says terrorism is being 'incubated' in India’s neighbourhood
Pic Courtesy - ‏@MEAIndia

Washington: With Pakistan obviously in mind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said terrorism is being 'incubated in India's neighbourhood' and pressed for action without making any distinction against groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Taliban and ISIS who share the 'same philosophy of hate, murder and killings'.

Addressing a joint sitting of US Congress, he also described America as an 'indispensable partner' and stated that a strong India is in the US' strategic interest.

In the course of his 45-minute speech, he covered all major aspects of the growing relationship between India and the US, particularly strategic ties and civil nuclear cooperation, and emphasised that the two countries should leave "constraints of the past" behind as the "foundations of the future are firmly in place".

Dressed in trademark white kurta pyjama and grey-coloured half-jacket, PM Modi was warmly received by the American lawmakers who interrupted his address more than 40 times to cheer him, a few times by standing. 

"In every sector of India's forward march, I see the US as an indispensable partner,” PM Modi said, adding, "Many of you also believe that a stronger and prosperous India is in America's strategic interest."

He said India could be an ideal partner for US businesses searching “for new areas of economic growth, markets for their goods, a pool of skilled resources, and global locations to produce and manufacture”. 

“India's strong economy, and growth rate of 7.6 per cent per annum, is creating new opportunities for our mutual prosperity,” the Prime Minister said. 

“Transformative American technologies in India and growing investment by Indian companies in the United States both have a positive impact on the lives of our citizens.” 

He also pointed out that today India was the destination of choice for American companies for their global research and development centres.

The Prime Minister thanked the US Congress for passing the India-US civilian nuclear deal in 2008.

“In the fall of 2008, when the Congress passed the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, it changed the very colours of leaves of our relationship,” he said.

Turning to the Indian economy he said that his to-do list by 2022, the 75th anniversary of India's independence was ambitious. "My to-do list is long and ambitious. But you will understand. 

“It includes a vibrant rural economy with robust farm sector; a roof over each head and electricity to all households; to skill millions of our youth; build 100 smart cities; have a broad band for a billion, and connect our villages to the digital world; and create a twenty-first century rail, road and port infrastructure,” PM Modi said.

PM Modi, who invoked Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his speech, said India and the US, the world's largest and oldest democracies, had learnt a lot from each other's philosophies and practices, making them "natural allies".

"As we deepen our partnership, there would be times when we would have differing perspectives. But, since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision-making and diversity in our perspectives can only add value to our partnership," he said, adding "So, as we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine but transformational ideas."

He said these ideas should focus "not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies; not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits; not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world.

"And, important for the success of this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities. When we do this, we will realise the full promise of this extraordinary relationship." 

Underscoring that both India and the US share the vision of peace and prosperity of the world, the Prime Minister said "globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat" and it must be fought at many levels" as the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win defeat it.

"In the territory stretching from West of India's border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS. But, it's philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence," Modi said.

"Although it's shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India's neighbourhood," he said an apparent reference to Pakistan.

He said those who believe in humanity must come together to fight against terrorism as one and speak against this menace in one voice.

"I commend the members of the US Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains," Modi said, adding "Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions."

He was clearly referring to the blocking of sale of 8 F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan by the US Congress recently.

Emphasising that "terrorism must be delegitimized", he said, "The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation."

He said the cooperation should be based on a policy that "isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists; that does not distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism."

The Prime Minister noted that both the countries have lost civilians and soldiers in combating terrorism and highlighted how the US stood by India in the aftermath of terror attack in Mumbai in November 2008, which originated from Pakistan. 

Highlighting India's growth of 7.6 per cent and the immense opportunities it offers, the Prime Minister said, "in every sector of India's forward march, I see the US as an indispensable partner."

He noted that many Americans believe that a stronger and prosperous India is in the strategic interest of the US and said, "Let us work together to convert shared ideals into practical cooperation. There can be no doubt that in advancing this relationship, both nations stand to gain in great measure."

As the US businesses search for new areas of economic growth, markets for their goods, a pool of skilled resources, and global locations to produce and manufacture, India could be their ideal partner, Modi said.

PM Modi also hailed the achievements of the Indian diaspora in the US.

“Connecting our two nations is also a unique and dynamic bridge of three million Indian Americans,” he said. 

“Today, they are among your best CEOs, academics, astronauts, scientists, economists, doctors, even spelling bee champions.”

The Prime Minister described the Indian Americans as the strength of the US and the pride of India.

He also brought in yoga, and much to everybody's amusement, said that though there were 30 million practitioners of this ancient Indian physical exercise, India has still not claimed intellectual property right over it.

That Modi was not lacking in humour became evident when he compared the functioning of the US Congress with the chaos in Indian Parliament.

“I am informed that the working of the US Congress is harmonious,” he said much to everybody's laughter. 

“I am also told that you are well-known for your bipartisanship,” he said.

“Well, you are not alone. Time and again, I have also witnessed a similar spirit in the Indian Parliament, especially in our Upper House.”

PM Modi concluded by quoting Walt Whitman - "The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal."

Later the PM tweeted saying - "Honoured and privileged to address a joint meeting of the US Congress."

(With Agency inputs)

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