‘Howdy, Modi’: Key Highlights of PM Modi & Trump’s Speeches, ICYMI

If you missed the actual speeches, we’ve cut through to the key takeaways and put them all in one place.

3 min read

An endorsement for President Trump, criticism of Pakistan’s stance on Article 370, reaffirmation of India’s linguistic diversity and a contrarian speech by Majority House Leader Steny Hoyer –– ‘Howdy, Modi’ in Houston, Texas was a mega event which had it all. PM Modi addressed the Indian diaspora, along with President Trump and US politicians like John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Here are the key takeaways from the PM Modi-President Trump spectacle in Houston.

1. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s Nehruvian Callback

Steny Hoyer, the second-most powerful democrat in the House, seemed to offer a counter-narrative while standing next to PM Modi and welcoming him at the event. He said,

“India, like America, is proud of its ancient traditions to secure a future according to Gandhi’s teaching and Nehru’s vision for India as a secular democracy where respect for pluralism and human rights safeguard every individual.”

The speech, with its references to Nehruvian secularism and Gandhi, seemed to offer a narrative counter to the tide of effusive praise at the event.


2. PM Modi Bats for Trump

In a few months, President Donald Trump faces the Republican primaries. At the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event, PM Modi unabashedly batted for him with energetic praise. While introducing Trump, PM Modi spoke of how “Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar” had become popular with Indians. PM Modi said,

“We have met a few times and every time he has been the same, warm, friendly and accessible. I admire him for something more; a passion for America, a concern for every American, and a strong resolve to make America great again.”

President Trump too, pitched himself to the Indian diaspora, repeatedly establishing the shared heritage between the two countries in his speech. The Indian diaspora in the Houston area alone are 150,000 in number, and Texas will be an important state in the Senate race in 2020 – the Indian diaspora is on Trump’s mind with that on the horizon.

Back in India, Congress responded to PM Modi’s support for President Trump by saying that with his speech, he had violated the principle of not interfering in any other country’s election.


3. Trump’s Biggest Hit? When He Talked ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ & ‘Illegal Immigration’

Trump’s most popular comment of the night was when he asserted US’s tough stand on ‘radical Islamic terrorism’, which led to loud cheers from the crowd and a standing ovation from PM Modi and many in the audience. President Trump said, “We are committed to protect innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”

Trump’s allusion to India’s NRC through a strong line against illegal immigrants also got him a big cheer from the crowd. He said,

“India and US also understand that to keep our community safe, we must protect our borders. Border security is vital to the United States. Border security is vital to India, and we understand that”

4. PM Modi’s Pitch for ‘Diversity of Languages’

At a time when BJP President Amit Shah caused a furore with his comments on Hindi imposition, PM Modi supported India’s diversity of languages. When asked to respond to the big question, ‘Howdy, Modi?’ he said, “When you ask me ‘howdy, Modi?’, I tell you India is doing great.” He then went on to repeat the same in several Indian languages. He also said,

“Our various languages are an important identity of our liberal and democratic society. For centuries, our nation has been moving forward with dozens of languages and hundreds of dialects. Diversity is the foundation of our vibrant democracy.”

5. Snub to Pakistan on Article 370

Days before PM Modi is set to speak at United Nations General Assembly, PM Modi criticised Pakistan for its stance on India’s abrogation of Article 370.

He targeted Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan, without directly naming them. Calling for a ‘decisive’ battle against terrorism, PM Modi said, "Article 370 encouraged terrorism and separatism in Jammu and Kashmir," asserting that its nullification will allow development and prosperity in the region and end discrimination against women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

“Where do you find conspirators of 9/11 and 26/11 terror attacks?" he asked, in an oblique reference to Pakistan.

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