HOUSTON (Diya TV) — ‘Howdy, Modi!’, the historic event that the Indian American community held its breath for, is over. If you are wondering why Houston, it might have to do more with American politics than Indian. There is a reason, the leader of the largest democracy decided to join the leader of the oldest.
In signature style, both leaders talked about everything the crowds wanted to hear and ended with a spontaneous victory lap around the massive NRG stadium, not leaving each other’s hands for a moment.
Celebrating friendships and cultural ties between the two countries holds the promise of better economic and diplomatic relationships. So in that way, this was a unique event to boost relations between the U.S. and India.
In a two-part production, equal importance was given to cultural events as well as the political razzmatazz.
Less ‘optics’, more culture
“This is a cultural, social, and political event. Coming from a nonprofit background, I wish people get together more like this,” said Sattie Persaud, founder of World Heritage Cultural Center, whose Global Ambassador, Alyssa Raghu, sang the US national anthem to kick off the festivities.
“There are generations after generations of cultures that get lost in the sea of all the different cultures in the United States,” Persaud said.
In fact, exploring these generational routes was the theme of a skit that 19-year-old Tejal from UT Austin was a part of. She said that practicing Bollywood fusion dance with her troupe was “a matter of self-identity—trying to balance two cultures, and benefit from both.”
There were no pyrotechnics and calisthenics to surprise the audiences, rather a pride of the familiar. Students from universities across the U.S. presented classical, folk, and fusion dance and music pieces. It started with a Gurbani, then the show meandered from classical dances of India to acapellas, from country music and guitars to dhol-tasha.
And then in an ecstatic moment for the crowds, PM Modi came on stage. He met a congressional delegation from across the country. Soon enough Trump joined in.
The bonhomie of an electoral base
Houston was no accident. The traditionally ‘red’ state of Texas has most recently seen some bursts of blue. It boasts a whopping 38 electoral college votes out of 538.
For the first ten minutes PM Modi enthralled crowds just by speaking of the great achievements of President Trump. Crowds chanted “Modi”, “India”, and “USA”. “You (President Trump) had introduced me to your family in 2017, and today I have the honor to introduce you to my family,” said PM Modi, pointing to a cheering crowd. President Trump returned all the adulation back. He commended the “hardworking” Indian American community while drawing parallels between the conservative core values of the two countries.
“This historic Modi-Trump mega show may help Trump get a majority of the 4 million Indo-American votes,” said Dr Randeep Suneja, a prominent cardiologist and humanitarian based in Houston.
Once Modi was done donning praise for the President, Donald Trump took the stage to address the capitvated 50,000 Indian Americans and wento on to acknowledge the contributions of the community, saying “we are proud to have you as Americans”. The Indian American vote bank for Trump was certainly ticking upwards.
PM Modi and the audience gave President Trump a standing ovation as he called out “radical, Islamic terrorism.” He went on to oddly correlate India’s efforts to protect its borders with his own efforts to stop immigration from America’s southern borders.
“We want to promote excellence, self-determination, and enterprise, as opposed to a culture of victimhood and entitlement,” explains native Texan and attorney Sanjay Narayan. He is also a board member of the Texas Asian Republican Assembly of North Texas. “Illegal immigration is deeply unfair to millions of wonderful legal immigrants, who work hard, pay their taxes, follow our rules, and obey our laws,” he said.
The Trump administrations, increasingly administrative strictures and requirements for visa and citizenship granting processes have disappointed the foreign workers of the Indian community. Despite Indian diplomacy and lobbying by major corporates, no breakthrough results have been achieved.
“I am firmly against illegal immigration, but I want a welcoming legal immigration policy,” says Narayan. This is largely the position of Republican party leaders across the U.S.
Welfare and farewell
Modi came back up on stage, this time for an almost hour-long speech in Hindi. His talk was broadly organized around two points: welfare and farewell.
He spoke of the many successes of his government over the last few years—some substantiated by numbers, rest by rhetoric. That was the welfare part.
Finally, in his farewell to redundant policies and practices, PM Modi talked mostly about his government’s measures to reduce corruption. Then, what really roused the crowds, was his assertive farewell to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that ended the temporary special status of Kashmir in India. This was the zenith of an uproarious audience at “Howdy, Modi!”
“Article 370 has truly made him the most decisive, fearless, and greatest PM that India has ever seen,” said Dr. Suneja.
The crowd was enthralled. Modi walked up to Trump and hand-in-hand, Trump and Modi went around the stadium, waving at the cheering crowd. The walk, seldom witnessed in international diplomacy, was a sign for Indian American voters. Northern California head of the Overseas Friends of BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) Chandru Bhambra, noted “Just only by standing with a Most Powerful Leader of the world Prime Minister Modi, Trump will transform most of the Indian Voters into his fold.”
Anti India Protests
Less than a mile outside the venue, a significant assembly of protestors stacked their placards and rolled up flags of Khalistan and Azad Kashmir. Chanting “Azadi” (freedom), the protestors held placards that read “Free Kashmir” and “Modi is Hitler”. Claiming the ‘majority muslim’ region of Kashmir needed to be “Free” from India’s Hindu nationalist regime.
15 percent of the Indian population is Muslim, and 19 districts in India have a Muslim majority. To many Indians, this is an internal matter and the issue of Article 370 is one that grossly misunderstood.
Earlier in the year, in an exclusive interview with Diya TV, Consul General of India in San Francisco, Ambassador Sanjay Pandya, explains the Indian governments prespective.
“We the people,” are the first three words in the Constitutions of India and the USA. Those words were the binding theme of the summit as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, President Trump, and PM Modi brought it up at different times to emphasize the importance of Indo-U.S. relations.
“We the people” will continue cultural exchanges, and trade and continue to vote in these two vibrant democracies
Rishi Sunak joins PM race to replace Boris Johnson in U.K.
LONDON (Diya TV) — British Indian Politician Rishi Sunak has officially joined the race to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. If Sunak is elected, he would become the UK’s first Asian Prime Minister.
Sunak, 42, started his career as a politician in 2015 as he became a member of Parliament after working for Goldman Sachs and 2 hedge funds up to that point. He officially became chancellor in February 2020. While serving the chancellor position, his response to the COVID-19 pandemic has received acclaim as he launched multiple emergency spending programs to combat the economic downfall while Britain was on lockdown.
Sunak resigned from the Chancellor position recently due to the conflict between him and Johnson. Shortly after, he jumpstarted his campaign to be Britain’s Prime Minister and supplant Johnson. While has gotten support from Conservative lawmakers, his reputation did take a hit this year.
During the pandemic, Sunak was caught and fined for breaking Britain’s lockdown rules which did not sit well with citizens. This could make a difference when it comes to voting for the new leader of the country. However, the general consensus is that Sunak should garner a lot of support from lawmakers and citizens alike as he looks to make history.
Shinzo Abe dies after being shot at campaign speech in Nara
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has passed away at the age of 67 after being shot in an assassination attempt during a campaign speech in the city of Nara. The assassination took place at approximately 11:30 Japan Standard Time on July 8. Abe was reported to be in a state of “cardiopulmonary arrest” after the gunfire and he passed away due to his injuries.
Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and throughout his time in office, he strived to improve the Japan-India relationship and he handily achieved this goal through improved security cooperation. Japan was also able to connect with and form bilateral links with the United States, Australia and India under his control. Abe’s initiative to make these strategic links ultimately deepened the respective relationships between the foreign countries for the long term.
On the day he was fatally shot, Abe was making a speech on the behalf of a Democratic Party candidate as the upper house elections were quickly approaching. Abe was shot from behind him up to 3 times and he collapsed on the spot. He was transported to the local hospital but showed no vital signs. Thereafter, Abe passed away.
The shooter has been taken into custody, being caught in the act, and has been identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old local of Nara. US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel released a statement on the shooting, stating the United States was “saddened and shocked.”
Sharks make Mike Grier the first Black GM in NHL history
SAN JOSE (Diya TV) — There is a changing of the guard in San Jose and one that has made NHL history.
The San Jose Sharks have formally announced Mike Grier as their new General Manager, making the 14-year NHL veteran the first African-American to hold such a position over the NHL’s lengthy history. After the resignation of former GM Doug Wilson and the relieving of previous head coach Bob Boughner and his coaching staff, wholesale changes were bound to happen. The franchise, still without a Stanley Cup, hopes to move in a new direction and regain the success they once had.
Grier is part of a family of sports executives as his father, Bobby, has worked as a director of scouting and player personnel with the NFL’s New England Patriots while his brother, Chris, is currently the GM of the Miami Dolphins. The new Sharks GM will follow in his family’s footsteps after playing professional hockey for more than a decade.
As a member of the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks, Grier played a total of 1060 games across 14 years. After retiring in 2011, he sought out coaching roles with the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, before ultimately getting the monumental callback from the San Jose Sharks which would change NHL history.
One of the primary tasks for Grier as a GM will be finding a new head coach for a franchise in search of stability on the bench. From there, the rebuild will be strenuous with many current Sharks players getting older with the need to infuse younger talent. The Sharks will be picking at 11th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, affording Grier the opportunity to select a potential franchise cornerstone.
After being sunk in no man’s land, the Sharks decided to make a large-scale change to create a new identity and reach the goal of lifting Lord Stanley for the first time.
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