Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally got to thank his NRI (Non-Resident Indians) constituency for their support in getting him elected. And they finally got to see the man they had waited so long to see as Prime Minister.
“Today, I say thanks to everyone,” said Modi, adding, “and I assure you I will never do anything to let you down.” His thank-you note came with a few goodies.
One, holders of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards would be given visas for their lifetime.
Two, people staying in India for a long period would not have to report to police stations periodically any more.
Three, measures will be initiated to end problems faced by those with non-Indian American spouses. PIO and Overseas Indian Cards would be merged into one shortly.
Four, US tourists will be given visa on arrival.
Five, outsourced consular services will be expanded.
“Happy?” Modi beamed to the packed venue, after announcing the first measure, which came at the end of a speech repeatedly interrupted by chants of “Modi, Modi”.
Dressed in a yellow kurta and peach waistcoat, the PM showed none of the strain of his navratri fast of just warm water, now into its fourth day on Sunday.
It was vintage Modi at the podium, feeding on the energy of the iconic Manhattan venue packed with supporters from 49 of the 50 states of the United States.
Also there to listen to a man who just stunned the world with a massive electoral victory were many US lawmakers, many of whom were in the middle of their own re-election campaigns.
The PM thanked his supporters, many of whom, as he said, had either travelled to India to campaign for him or supported him and the BJP from here.
Seshadri Kumar, who publishes a community paper, came to the reception all the way from Houston, Texas. “I could have stayed home and watched it on TV,” he said.
But this was a historic event and he wanted to be there.
Watch: The highlights of Modi's Madison Square speech
Acutely aware of the importance of the event, Modi quickly moved from recognising and thanking them for their support to reporting to them why they were right in choosing him.
The PM could have been speaking to an audience at home in India, explaining, as he did, his vision, his plans, his goals and ambitions for India.
“The government you have chosen will not leave any stone unturned in developing the country,” said Modi, adding, “this government will succeed in fulfilling all our aspirations.”
And here is why, he said. India cannot be stopped. India has three unique qualities which we need to recognise and present to the world: democracy, demographic dividend and demand (as consumers).
In a speech that was repeatedly interrupted by cheers and applause, the longest ovation was for the time when he said he grew up selling tea.
Everyone in the audience knew that story well — many of them had participated in his “Chai with Modi” events in the run up to the elections, but they couldn’t help themselves.
Top 10 quotes from Modi speech
“I have reached here by selling tea. I am a very small person… I am small and that is why I take interest in doing small work for small people. I am small that is why I have the intent to do big things for small people.” — his reply to people who ask him to talk of his “bada vision” (big vision).
“I will repay your debt by making the India of your dreams,”
“Earlier, Indian governments spoke of having made this law and that law, but I have started ending laws which are of no use. So many laws... If I end one law a day, I will be the happiest.”
“Is this news?” — on reports that officials in India had started reporting for work on time.
“I have a dream that no family in India should be without a house in 2022. These are small things I am telling you, but these are the things which will turn India’s fortunes.”
“Thousands of crores have been spent. People have told me Modi ji why are you getting involved in this tough work. If I had to do easy work, people would not have made me PM.” — on taking up the challenge of cleaning river Ganga
“There are many expectations from the government. I can say with belief, this government will succeed 100% in meeting people’s expectations.”
“A country which has such capable fingers… a country whose youth which is committed to development on its own…such a country has no need to turn back and look.”
“I haven’t taken even a 15-minute vacation since I’ve taken the PM’s post.”
“When 2019 comes, let us pledge to give Mahatma Gandhi — on his 150th birth anniversary — a clean India.”
Read : Modi greets crowd at rock concert with 'namaste', calls for world peace
Read: A historic reception, in their own words