London, Nov 13: Facing attack back home over the issue of intolerance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India's diversity was the country's "strength and pride" and underlined the importance of peaceful co-existence.
Modi also said that there is no reason for India to remain poor, asserting. "we harbor poverty for no reason." "India is full of diversity.
This diversity is our pride and it is our strength. Diversity is the speciality of India." he said, adding that despite the country being home to diverse religions, over 100 languages and 1,500 dialects Indians have proved how to live together.
Modi was addressing thousands of people, almost all of Indian origin, at a Grand Community reception in his honour at the iconic Wembley Stadium, home to rock concerts and England's national soccer team.
The event was themed 'Two Great Nations, One Glorious Future'. Courting the Indian diaspora with rock star-style tour on the second day of his three-day visit to the UK--the first by an Indian Premier in 10 years--, Modi got a rapturous welcome when he reached one of Britain's most famous sporting venues this evening.
An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people were present at the event, according to the organisers. "Your warm welcome makes me feel home," Modi told the biggest gathering of Indian diaspora he has ever addressed since assuming office in May 2014.
Modi was introduced to the gathering by British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose wife Samantha, draped in a saree, was also present. Cameron greeted the assembled audience with a "Namaste" which drew loud cheers and followed up with another greeting "'kem cho'(How are you?) Wembley" in Gujarati. He renewed his pitch for India getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
"When it comes to UN we know what needs to happen- India with a permanent seat at the UN Security Council," Cameron said. Britain has a 1.5 million-strong Indian diaspora population.
The event was held in a carnival atmosphere following celebrations for Diwali festival. Performers included Indian-origin pop star Jay Sean, popular Bollywood singer 'Baby Doll' Kanika Kapoor and Alisha Chinai, who belted out her famous 'Made in India' Hindi number of the 90s, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
A dynamic cultural show showcasing dance styles prevailing across India besides a variety of dance mixes with Bollywood songs was on display.
The audience also heard classical, folk art and contemporary music performances. There was also a performance by Scottish bagpipers. Special 'ModiExpress' buses were deployed to transport the attendees from across the UK.