Speech in US Congress: Modi cruised along a one-way traffic, unlike Nehru in 1949

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"You will see that though India may speak to you in a voice that you may not immediately recognize, or that may perhaps appear somewhat alien to you, yet that voice somewhat strongly resembles what you have often heard before."---Jawaharlal Nehru in his address to the US Congress in 1949.

"Connecting our two nations is a dynamic bridge of three million Indian Americans (standing ovation). Today they are among your best CEOs, academics, astronauts, doctors, even spelling bee champions (standing ovation). They are your strength. They are also the pride of India. They symbolise the best of both our societies."---Narendra Modi in his address to the US Congress in 2016.

Modi in US

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the joint session of the US Congress on June 8 [See his speech in video below] earned him 10 standing ovations and 69 rounds of vociferous applauses. For a man who was denied visa by the world's oldest democracy for a decade, it was a complete turnaround and also cemented a new doctrine in India's foreign policy: We have left the past behind and decided to embrace a fresh future. [3 reasons why Indo-US relation is flourishing under Modi like never before]

nehru and modi

Modi's multicultural effort to win an apprehensive USA's heart

Modi hardly left out anybody or any issue that mattered in his determined will to usher in a new dawn in India's foreign policy. From Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King to Bhimrao Ambedkar to Swami Vivekananda---Modi presented the story from the angle of diversity and multiculturalism to strike a chord with the audience who belongs to a democratic set-up. Like the former BJP prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Modi treaded the same path to convey the message that India and US are "natural allies".

Modi didn't lose sight of the pragmatic aspects either

The Indian prime minister, however, did not miss out the practical benefits of strong Indo-US ties while focussing on the story of the ideals. He indirectly dragged in Pakistan by raking up the issue of terrorism and advised the US Congress to deal with those who harbour the threat in an unsparing manner. He did not forget to thank the US Congress to support India in the wake of 26/11.

He also reminded India's role in reconstructing a war-ravaged country like Afghanistan (Modi visited the Asian country during the same trip and inaugurated a strategically important dam there) besides backing a stronger India to benefit the US's cause in Asia (again an indirect reference to China).

Modi found a conducive atmosphere to speak against terrorism after India got the green signal to join the MTCR club.

The Indian prime minister also pitched his voice for more US investment in India besides giving the message that India is not intolerant as many across the Atlantic are seeing it of late.

Modi cruised in his speech because India's first post-Independence-born PM has no baggage to carry

Modi's engagement with the US Congress was absorbing because he had no baggage to carry. Contrary to this, when Jawaharlal Nehru had addressed the same audience 67 years ago, there were a lot of obstacles on the way towards the alignment of the interests.

In 1949, the then PM Nehru had a lot of concerns while addressing a US audience

Nehru had an experience of an colonised state on his mind and represented a zeal to build a newly independent nation by maintaining an ideological equidistance from the West (although he propagated non-alignment but India was never too distant from the erstwhile Soviet Union for which Nehru had great admiration).

Modi, being the first prime minister of India who was born after 1947, the reality presents a completely different picture. He has no compulsion to abide by non-alignment principles in a world which witnesses a one-way traffic.

India had hesitation to get closer to US earlier because of Cold War challenges

Moreover, while Nehru's times had seen the US warming up to Pakistan and vice-versa because of the Cold War which ultimately saw the Kashmir problem getting integrated with the bipolar world politics, Modi's times have seen a rising India rubbing shoulders with the US while a stagnant Pakistan nearing irrelevance in world affairs.

This has made the biggest difference for the Modi doctrine of reaching out to every nook and corner of the world with a proactive, positive and well-intentioned mind and not like Nehru or other former prime ministers who had to face the Kashmir obstacle, Pakistan factor and even political opposition at home every time an appointment with the US came up.

Manmohan Singh had a chance to do what Modi is doing today but he failed to overcome the political opposition

Manmohan Singh still had the chance to set the agenda with the US under new realities but he failed miserably. Modi did not have the internal problems and he delivered it on the lines of expectation.


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