Modi’s address to US Congress
Ali Abbas Rizvi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a joint meeting of the US Congress on June 8 during his visit to Washington. According to reports, the address by an Indian prime minister to a joint meeting of US Congress will be the first since 2005 and overall the fifth by an Indian prime minister. Manmohan Singh was the last Indian prime minister to address a joint meeting of the US Congress on July 19, 2005.
The House Speaker Paul Ryan who had invited Modi said: “This address presents a special opportunity to hear from the elected leader of the world’s most populous democracy on how our two nations can work together to promote our shared values and to increase prosperity.” Ryan added: “The friendship between our nations is a pillar of stability in a very, very important region.”
On the other hand, two US lawmakers Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn in a joint statement, declared: “Speaker Ryan’s decision to invite Prime Minister Modi to address Congress demonstrates the growing commitment to strengthening the strategic partnership between the US and India.
“As a key security partner with a flourishing economy, a thriving relationship with India presents tremendous opportunities to reach our joint economic and strategic goals. Prime Minister Modi’s visit presents an opportunity to energise efforts to improve bilateral ties between our two countries.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the first-ever Hindu lawmaker elected to the US Congress, shared the sentiments. “I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to Washington in June, where his address to a Joint Session of Congress will explore how our two nations can work together to further our shared values and interests. “As the world’s oldest and largest democracies, the US and India have many shared values and objectives. Since Prime Minister Modi was first elected in 2014, he has made active engagement with the United States a priority on many levels including exploring mutually beneficial economic opportunities, stronger government-to-government relations, and enhanced security engagements,” she said.
One understands the invitation to the Indian leader is a US decision and the noble sentiments expressed by US legislators are reflective of the growing ties between the two countries. Nevertheless, at the same time, shouldn't the US lawmakers wonder why India is hostile towards all of its neighbours (except Bangladesh), why India always runs away from resolving the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, why it sends terrorists like Kalbhoshan Yadav to destablise its neighbouring country, why it has brutally suppressed the Kashmiri Muslims, why a Maoist insurgency continues to rage in several Indian states, why saffron terror continues to flourish in Indian society, why minorities in the country remain in fear and why religious intolerance is growing in the world’s largest democracy.
Shouldn't they also wonder why despite the country's high GDP growth rate, poverty in India is still pervasive, why one of the fastest growing economies has failed to redistribute its resources, especially in rural areas where 70 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people reside, why 50 percent of Indians don’t have proper shelter, why 35 percent of households don’t have a nearby water source, why 70 percent don’t have access to decent toilets, why 85 percent of villages don’t have a secondary school and why over 40 percent of these same villages don’t have proper roads connecting them. But then why this country that ignores its poor people is the number one weapons importer in the world?
As it is, “thriving relationship, shared values, growing commitment, largest democracy and enhanced security engagements” seem to be rather high sounding words when one closely looks at the ground realities in India.