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Indian Prime Minister Modi’s
Historic Speech in New York

October 2014

This article appears in the October 10, 2014 issue of Executive Intelligence Review and is reprinted with permission.

[PDF version of this article]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Sept. 28, 2014. He told the predominantly Indian and Indian-American audience, “I’m very grateful to you all, and I promise to repay this debt. I will repay this debt by creating the India of your dreams.”

October 7, 2014 —Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s September 28 speech in New York City’s Madison Square Garden went far beyond electrifying his audience of 20,000-plus Indian-Americans. Broadcast around the United States in both the original Hindi and simultaneous English translation, the new President projected the new, creative quality of thinking coming out of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), and their allies, on which the future of the world depends.

In an October 3 webcast, Lyndon LaRouche pointed to Modi’s speech as exemplary of the quality of genius now coming to the fore, as a new global leadership emerges:

“Examine Modi’s speech very carefully. Don’t try to interpret it like some idiot would try to simply interpret something. But rather say, what is implied here? What is this statement saying, which we could not say in mere words? And you have that again and again and again, in New York City, by a great leader who put things in various terms, again and again and again.

“Each statement he made had a coherent meaning, but also a differentiated meaning. And you would see—watch the whole audience, the mass audience—look at the excitement which this grand audience went through in this experience. And what you see here is a man who has a true element of genius, because he’s got something in him, an insight into the system of society, which no one then had really appreciated that much. And his understanding and appreciation of the principles which were buried in the expression of his speeches, and what the results were of the statements he made in the United States and elsewhere.

“All of these were essential, but not in the literal words, the silly little literal words of somebody who wants to keep babbling words out of their mouth. Such people are silly people, and they don’t convey much information of any use. It is the people who speak in these terms, like Modi, who represent the real creative minds that drive upwards the creative powers of the human mind. And in which the powers of the human mind are registered.

“It’s not words as such; it is not images as such. It’s not what you’re taught; it’s not what you repeat. It’s your insight into the Solar System, into the process; and that’s what you see from this process.”

Modi’s Speech: We Will Be 100% Successful!

Bharat Mata ki... [the crowd cheers and completes the slogan: “... Jai!”.[1]]

To my dear brothers and sisters settled in America. To all the distinguished and strong members of the American democracy present here, to all the brothers and sisters in India watching today’s event via Internet and TV, and those who couldn’t make it inside the event and are outside; I welcome and acknowledge them.

And a very, very happy Navratri to all of you. Navratri’s festival is a festival to worship power. It is a festival of purging evil. It is a festival to increase your dedication and strength.

On such a pious occasion, I’ve had the chance to meet all of you, and for that I’m very privileged. That my countrymen who having settled here, thousands of miles away from India, have increased India’s honor and pride. Because there was a time when India was known as the land of snakes and snake charmers.

If it wasn’t for you, if it wasn’t for India’s youth today, it wasn’t for what you did in the IT sector, then perhaps even today, India would have been perceived as the land of snakes and snake charmers.

A few years ago I was in Taiwan. Back then I wasn’t a chief minister and I had an interpreter with me. After a few days, we got acquainted and he asked me one day, “If you don’t mind, may I ask you a question?” I said, “Yes, I won’t mind, please go ahead.” He asked again, “Are you sure you won’t mind?” I said, “No, I won’t. Please go ahead.” He was still hesitant. And then he said, “I’ve heard that India is a land of black magic, snakes and snake charmers, that people play around with snakes; Is this all true?’

I replied, “No, not anymore. Our nation has developed a lot since then. Our ancestors used to play with the snake, but today we play with the mouse.” And our youth today move the world with their mouse!

All of you, through your behavior, through your heritage, through your capability, have earned a lot of respect in America. Through your medium, you’ve presented a unique, powerful image of India to not just America, but also to the people of the rest of the world who are settled in America, and in other parts of the world.

India recently had elections. Many of you didn’t get the opportunity to participate in the elections, but all of you probably didn’t sleep when the results were declared. Not a single one of you would have been able to sleep that night. The celebrations that followed in India were nothing compared to the celebrations by Indians around the world.

And many of you did participate in these elections. People gave their time. I couldn’t even meet them and say thanks. But today, I thank you all personally. I thank you that you came and stayed in the villages of India for months, and made a large contribution to a historic election victory in India.

After 30 years, for the first time, a government was formed with a full majority. These election results couldn’t be believed by any political pundit in India. All opinion-makers were unsuccessful in their opinions. The poor, uneducated people in the villages of India made the opinion for the opinion-makers. The poorest of the poor’s belief in Indian democracy and its democratic system was proven by this election result.

But to win the election is not the ultimate goal. It’s not a program to sit on the top. To win the election is a responsibility. And since I’ve taken charge, I haven’t taken a vacation for even 15 minutes. And I assure you, that the responsibility and the mandate you and the Indians have given me, we will never do anything that will make you look down.

Optimism and Hope

In our country today, there is an atmosphere of optimism and hope. The people of India want change. The way the world is going through various economic crises, every poor person looking at this asks, “How long will we live like this?” He wants change.

And my dear countrymen, I assure you, to change India’s economic situation, to create a competent public system, to increase every person’s quality of life, the government you’ve chosen will leave no stone unturned. I know this very well, that in the hearts of all of you sitting here, you have a lot of expectations from India. Even in the hearts of Indian citizens, there are a lot of expectations from the existing government. But, I can assure you that this government will be 100% successful in meeting your hopes and expectations.

When I was the CM [Chief Minister] of Gujarat, I said once publicly that whoever wants to come to India, come to India soon. Don’t be late! Back then, I didn’t know how I was to be responsible for making this actually happen. But look today: Every Indian settled in America for however long a time feels that one foot should be kept in India always.

My dear countrymen, all of the world is convinced that the 21st Century is the Asian century. Many world leaders have said so. Some say it’s the Asian century; some say it’s the Indian century. And it’s not just lightly said. India has the potential. It has the credibility. And now, it has a unique combination. Imagine, today India is the world’s youngest nation. And also the nation with the world’s most ancient civilization. It’s a unique combination! Sixty-five percent of the population today in India is less than 35 years of age. Any nation with that capability, with that kind of resource, whose fingers have the capability to connect to the world through computers, a nation whose youth through its capabilities is able to determine its future, that nation doesn’t need to look back.

There is no reason to be disappointed, friends! I can say with full confidence, say that this nation will move ahead at a very high speed, with the strength of its youth!

India has three things today which are not possessed by any other nation. Our responsibility is to recognize these three strengths and to present it to the world, to unite these strengths and mobilize them and move ahead.

When 1.25 billion people give their blessings, that is the blessings of God himself. The face of the public is the face of God.

Those three strengths that India can feel proud of, and on the basis of which India can move forward, are:

Number one, democracy: This is our biggest strength. I was watching when, during these elections, in the peak heat of May, a poor person with almost no clothes on would come to listen to the election speeches, with the hope that this is the democratic system through which he will be able to fulfill his dreams and hopes. In India, democracy isn’t just a convenience or system; it is a strong belief!

The second strength is the “demographic dividend.” A country which has greater than 65% of its population as youth, what more does such a nation need or require?

The third strength that we have is demand. The whole world’s eyes are on India, because they know that India is a nation of 1.25 billion people and therefore has big demand.

No other nation has these three strengths. And on the basis of these strengths, India will conquer new heights; this is my firm belief. America is the oldest democracy in the world; India is the world’s largest democracy. People from all over the world are settled in USA. And Indians are settled throughout the world!

Make Development a Mass Revolution

There is no corner of the world where you won’t find an Indian, and there is no city in USA where people of other parts of the world aren’t settled. These are such similar things! And that’s why, my brothers and sisters, India in the coming days—.

It has been my firm belief that governments aren’t able to drive progress. Governments are capable of issuing laws and schemes like building roads, hospitals, schools. They have budget limitations. There is progress only when there is public participation. By sad fate till now, governments have taken sole charge of development. This government will work with the 1.25 billion people of the nation for its progress.

We have another problem in the nation: If the nation wishes to progress, then it’s the responsibility of the government to push for good governance. And even you. You all have complaints, like, “Sir, such-and-such happened when I got off at the airport...” “We went to get a visa, but I don’t know...” I may live thousands of miles away from you, but I still know your pain! I know your pain. And that’s why, my brothers and sisters, it’s our job that we have to make development a mass revolution.

And when I talk about a mass revolution, we know the history of our nation. The British used to rule India. Before that, India was ruled by others. For around 1,200 years, India was a slave. But if you look at our history, at every point, there was some or the other great soul who came and sacrificed his life for the nation.

Take the names of all the Sikh gurus; all of them made such sacrifices for the nation. Such sacrifices! Look at Bhagat Singh’s sacrifice! Even today, the Sikh soldiers at our border are ready to lay down their lives for this nation. In every generation, great men have made sacrifices for this nation. But they would sacrifice themselves, be led to the gallows, or become a target of the bullets of foreign invaders, and perish. But then another would come and do something and perish again. And then a third would come. The numbers of those who died would never decrease. But each would come alone, fight with all he had for his nation, and die in the process. He would get his few friends and start the revolution.

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in New York City, with a garland placed there on the anniversary of his birthday, Oct. 2, 2014. Modi said of Gandhi: In the fight for freedom, he gave each Indian the pride of contributing to the nation.

But what did Mahatma Gandhi do? He made freedom a mass revolution! If someone wears khadi,[2] he wears it for freedom. If someone teaches a young kid, it’s also for freedom. If someone feeds somebody who’s hungry, it’s for freedom. If someone sweeps or cleans, it’s for freedom. He gave every person a direction and a mission based on his own capabilities. And every Indian started feeling that they too are fighting for freedom. This was the biggest contribution of Mahatma Gandhi. In the fight for freedom, to give to all of India and in every Indian’s heart, the pride of contributing to the nation; he gave a new strength to India’s revolution by doing this.

Brothers and sisters, freedom was a mass revolution; just like that, development has to be a mass revolution. India’s 1.25 billion people should feel that if they are teaching children, they are actually serving the nation and doing a job better than the PM of India. A public worker, while cleaning, does a good job. Why? Because he is working for the pride of his nation and feels that there shouldn’t be garbage and pollution around; and that is a service to the nation. A doctor who serves a poor, sick family does so with full dedication, because even that poor family’s life is valuable to the nation. So that doctor too is serving the nation.

My work is to make development a mass revolution and to make 1.25 billion citizen a part of this mass revolution. And whoever does whatever for work, does so for the nation and with the nation’s pride, and never does anything that will hurt the nation. This feeling awakens me!

And I’m confident that once more, that day will come when every Indian in every corner will feel that we have to take the country forward. And the strength of the 1.25 billion people is my strength and confidence on which we will make 21st Century the century for India.

Our Youth Will Lead the World

By 2020, there will be a global demand for a large workforce, because in other nations by then, they won’t have any youth, just old people. They won’t have anyone available for work! We will by then be able to supply a workforce for the whole world. Today there is a high demand in the nursing sector globally, so if we send trained nurses to work in those nations; it’s a big help for them. Today there is a high demand for teachers globally. It’s hard to find math and science teachers. Can’t India export a teacher? A country with such a quantity of youth, by increasing their quality and employing them worldwide, India has the capability of influencing and leading the world.

The world will have to acknowledge India’s youth talent, my brothers and sisters! All of you have done the same since you came to America, you’ve made such progress! And don’t we eat the same grain and drink the same water as you all? So if you can do it, why can’t we do it? Of course we can.

Look at the nation’s talent! In Ahmedabad, if you wish to travel one kilometer in an auto-rickshaw, it costs around 10 rupees. Look at India’s talent: We travelled 650 million kilometers to Mars! And it was all with indigenous technology, made in small workshops, which was assimilated to make this happen. In Ahmedabad, if you wish to travel one kilometer in an auto-rickshaw, it costs around 10 rupees. In our journey to Mars, we only spent 7 rupees per km! If this doesn’t show the talent and strength of our youth, then what does?

Not only this: India is the world’s first nation that succeeded in reaching Mars on its first attempt. So America and India are not only talking with each other on Earth, but also on Mars now. On Sept. 22, America reached Mars. On Sept. 24, India was there too. Not only this: India reached Mars at a budget less than a Hollywood film’s budget!

LaRouchePAC organizers at New York’s Madison Square Garden for Prime Minister Modi’s speech. The Mangalyaan is India’s Mars orbiter.

A nation with such strength and talent can achieve new heights, and for that purpose, we have taken up a task which is skill development. If our youth has the talent and has the opportunity to work, then it has the power to create a modern India.

So that’s why we have given skill development a priority. We have even created a separate ministry for it, since we formed the new government. And we are going to involve other nations and their experiences in this project too. We are going to invite them to join us in skill development. We are going to invite the world’s leading universities involved in skill development to join us. We want a specific kind of skill development, which produces two kinds of results: 1) skill development that creates people who can become job creators; 2) to create a highly skilled youth, which matches all expectations for such a job.

A few years back in India, we nationalized our banking system. This was done with the purpose that every poor and backward person should benefit from India’s large financial and economic system. But despite that, there are today more than 50% people in India who don’t have a bank account; and because of that, they are forced to take a loan from a money lender. And we all know how these loan sharks rob such poor people. My friends from the Bohra Samaj[3] sitting here know it well. The poor person, not being able to pay back the loan, comes to a point where under the heavy debt burden, he commits suicide.

Shouldn’t the nation’s money benefit these poor? Is the national currency only for the rich?

So that’s why we launched the “PM Jan Dhan” [public banking] plan as soon as we came into office. And I can say with great pride today: What’s the proof of a government working? In just two weeks, the bank employees went house to house to open bank accounts for around 40 million people. Have you ever thought a bank employee would be coming to your home? A postal worker comes, but a bank employee never does.

Things can change, people can be motivated! And results can be obtained. And we had said that you could open a bank account with a zero balance—but look at our citizens’ confidence and honesty, they deposited 15 million rupees in the bank, despite what Modi said! This is living proof of how even a poor person can participate and wants to participate in his country’s progress.

‘Make in India’

India has great potential. I have just launched another program and invite the world and all of you sitting here to join me. And my program is “Make in India.” If today you need human resources, effective governance, and low-cost production, then there is no better place than India. People would earlier come to make in India, but used to say, “There is so much red tape and bureaucracy.” So today, I tell you: Those days are over. Everything will be accessible online, with an online “Make in India” campaign, which will allow you to stay in touch with your government. You can now share your application, opinions, suggestions, and thoughts with the Indian government online. And the youth here who want to do something for their country, the older people who were the first Indian generation to settle in America, I request them to go to my website——and share their suggestions and thoughts with me there. Come join me!

We all wish to change India’s destiny. Using technology, we can display and preach our strength to everyone. And we can also use technology to make contributions to our progress.

The governments before us used to boast about the many, many laws they made. You know, that’s all you heard in the elections. I’ve started a different line of work. I’ve taken up the mandate of eliminating all the useless laws that were made in the past. If any common man would enter this web of old, archaic laws, he would never be able to get out. I’ve established a special committee of people who are tasked with removing such laws. And if even one law can be eliminated, I’ll be the happiest man. Good governance should be easy, effective, and should be for the benefit and progress of the people of the country.

You must have read in the newspapers that these days in Delhi, government officials get to work on time. Now tell me, is this news? But this was the news in our country, as if it was a big deal! Such news items would get me very upset. Isn’t going to work on time a responsibility? Is this news? But such was the situation.

I’ve started a program: a program of cleanliness. I know all of you must love it. People usually think a PM should do big things, and not be involved in such petty things as cleanliness, but I’ve decided to do this. I’ve decided to build toilets. Sometimes people ask me, “Modiji, tell us about a big vision.” I tell them, “Look brother, I’ve come here by selling tea.”

I am a very small man. a very common man. My childhood was an average one. And since I’m a common man, that’s why I enjoy doing common things for the common people. But since I’m common, I also wish to do great things for the common man.

Now look at the state of the Ganges. Don’t all of you here desire to take your parents one day to the Ganges for the holy bath? It’s everyone’s desire. But then when you read how polluted the Ganges is, you think otherwise. Tell me brothers, shouldn’t our Ganges be pure and clean? [The crowd cheers, “Yes!”] Shouldn’t every Indian participate in cleaning up the Ganges? [“Yes!”]. Won’t you people here help me clean the Ganges? [“Yes!”] You promise? [“Yes!”]

Brothers and sisters, we have spent tens of millions of rupees so far on this issue. When I took up this task, people used to chide me and say, “Modiji, why are you bothering with such unsolvable issues?” If my job was to only solve easy problems, people would never have elected me the PM of India. They have elected me to solve difficult problems. And I share the devotion my 1.25 billion people have towards the Ganges.

And cleaning the Ganges isn’t just a matter of devotion and faith. It’s fully related to the global climate and environmental crisis. More than that, if you look along the banks of the Ganges in states like Uttarakhand or Uttar Pradesh or Bihar or West Bengal, around 40% of the population there depends on the Mother Ganga for their livelihood. If the Ganges becomes clean and pure again, then those 40% people, which include farmers, small manufacturers, will benefit from it. So from that standpoint, it’s a big economic agenda.

Repay Our Debt to Mahatma Gandhi

In 2019, it will be 150 years to Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. Mahatma Gandhi gave us freedom. What did we give Mahatma Gandhi? Tell me, shouldn’t every Indian ask that question to himself or not? [“Yes!”] The Gandhi that gave us freedom, what did we give back to that Gandhi? If you happen to meet Gandhi one day, will you be able to answer him?

And that’s why, by 2019, let all Indians imagine that by then, [we will have] all the things that were dear to Gandhi. Which were, first, India’s freedom; and second, cleanliness. Gandhiji never compromised on cleanliness. He was very stubborn about it.

Again, Gandhiji gave us freedom. He freed Mother India from the chains of slavery. Can’t we free Mother India from pollution? In 2019, when we celebrate 150 years since Gandhiji’s birth, can’t we give a gift of a clean India for the feet of Gandhi? The great soul that gave us freedom, can’t we give that great soul this in return? [“Yes!”] Yes or no? [“Yes!”] If 1.25 billion people of India decide not to cause pollution, then no external force in the world can make India dirty and filthy.

In 2022, we will celebrate 75 years of Indian Independence. In Indian culture, a 75th birthday is a big deal and an occasion to celebrate. So how should we celebrate India’s 75th birthday? Why don’t we start preparing for it now?

I have a dream. And with your blessings, that dream will be fulfilled: that by 2022, when India celebrates 75 years of independence, by then there shouldn’t be a single family in India that doesn’t have its own home to live in. These are small things and issues I’m sharing with you, but it’s these small issues that are going to change India’s destiny. And let’s work together in changing its destiny.

Next year, 2015, is an important year. All of you here are non-resident Indians. Just like you, there was a M.K. Gandhi who was a non-resident Indian. Mahatma Gandhi came back to India in January 1915. January 2015 will be 100 years since Gandhi returned to India. The 8th and 9th of January in India are celebrated to commemorate non-resident Indians. Many of you come to participate in that. This time, in 2015, it will be celebrated in Ahmedabad, because it’s going to be a century since Mahatma Gandhi returned to India. Mahatma Gandhi went abroad, became a barrister, became financially affluent, but chose instead to live and work for India. So my prayer to all of you is to come and pay back the debt you owe to your motherland and country by helping it progress.

Addressed to Indians in America

There are some things I want to share with you. Since I’ve become a PM, there are a few things that I’ve come to hear, and keeping those in mind, I want to say a few things.

First, PIO [Person of Indian Origin] card holders have lots of visa issues. I’ve decided that all PIO card holders will be given lifetime visas. Happy? [“Yes!”]

Second, those non-resident Indians who stay in India for a long time have to go to the police station often. We have decided that they will no longer have to go to the police station. I’ve also come to hear that because of the difference in the PIO and OCI [Overseas Citizenship of India] schemes, there are many difficulties that Indians abroad have to face. Especially, when the spouse isn’t of Indian origin, there are added difficulties. If anyone gets married here, he’s in deep trouble! My friends, I have some good news for you. Within a few months, we will merge the PIO and OCI schemes into a single scheme. We will introduce a new, simplified scheme within a few months.

The third thing is.... U.S. Nationals who want to come work in India will get long-term visa.

Fourth, we will provide Electronic Travel Authorization and Visa on Arrival for American tourists coming to India, to make it easier for them. To facilitate these things quickly—because there is a large number of Indians in the USA who travel very frequently to India, causing a load on the small outsourcing visa services—we have decided to increase the number of outsourcing services, to make it easier and faster for you to obtain a visa.

So these are the things I’ve decided on, after long-term contemplation on your problems, before coming here.

For you to come here in such large numbers on the pious festival of Navrati—and I [looking at his watch] am talking and talking—I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

You’ve given me a lot of love. Perhaps... I’ve noticed at least since the past 15 years. perhaps no other Indian leader has received such affection. I’m very grateful to you all, and I promise to repay this debt. I will repay this debt by creating the India of your dreams. Let’s work together to serve Mother India. Let’s do what we can for our fellow Indians, for our country. The country where we were born and raised, the country that taught us to be what we are today. With this desire, I want to once again thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Bharat Mata Ki... [The crowd yells, “... Jai!’]
Bharat Mata Ki... [“... Jai!”]
Clench both your fists and repeat again! I’m the one on fasts ... not you!
Bharat Mata Ki... [“... Jai!”]
Bharat Mata Ki... [“... Jai!”]
Bharat Mata Ki... [“... Jai!”]

Thank you!

Translated from Hindi by Avneet Thapar. “Jai Hind.”

[1] “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” means “Long Live India.” The speech was repeatedly punctuated with cheers, applause, and chants of “Modi! Modi!”

[2] Hand-spun and hand-woven cloth, which became a symbol of Mahatma Gandhi’s revolution against the British.

[3] A mosque in Mumbai.