Terrorism and global warming are the two major challenges the world is facing now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a gathering of the Indian community that gave him a rousing welcome at SAP Center in California’s San Jose on Monday.
There is no good terrorism or bad terrorism, Modi said, in a veiled dig at Pakistan. “Terrorism is terrorism,” the PM said, adding India is ready to tackle any challenge.
Modi also waged a war against corruption and said that he had faith in the nation because “India is youthful”.
“Sixty-five per cent of our population is under the age of 35,” the PM said at a packed auditorium amid loud chants of ‘Modi, Modi’ while laying stress on achievements of the country in the recent times.
“...a new image of India has emerged. The old thoughts about India are going away,” said the 65-year-old Modi, who is on a two-day visit to the US tech hub where he has visited the headquarters of Facebook and Google, met with top tech CEOs and addressed an event focused on start-ups.
Modi used the occasion to fire back against critics to say he has delivered — on every promise he made.
“I want a certificate from you,” he asked of the audience, in an oratorial flourish that looked clearly headed in one direction, just one. And it got it, prompting a roar for every check mark.
“I had assured you I will work round the clock for the well being of the people.”
“Today I stand in front of you, do I have any allegations of corruption against me?”
“NO,” the audience roared back.
The prime minister has faced criticism in recent months at home and abroad, as he did during this on-going US trip, of not doing enough — the pace of change needs to be speeded up.
In his brief addresses in Silicon Valley, Modi has harped on the importance of technology and the power of social media in today’s world, and invited investors to India.
“Penetration of technology is immense. Everybody has mobile phones nowadays,” Modi reiterated in his hour-long speech on Monday.
“Your fingers created magic on the keyboard and the computer and this gave India a new identity. Your skill and commitment is wonderful,” Modi told the diaspora in San Jose where the mood was reminiscent to that of last year’s Madison Square Garden event in which Modi enthralled the crowd during his first visit to the US as prime minister.
Modi said the positive change in India’s image was because of the country’s 1.25 billion people. “People are saying the 21st century is India’s century. The world has started believing in this today.”
“Be it World Bank, Moody’s or any other research agency, everyone is saying India is the fastest growing economy of the world,” Modi said, listing the welfare schemes -- such as Jan Dhan Yojana and Digital India -- his government has initiated.
“I had assured you I will work round the clock for the well-being of the people,” the PM said.
Tight security was in place for the SAP event which saw the participation of more than 18,000 people. Over 1,200 volunteers are on their toes for smooth conduct of the programme.
Before Modi’s address, colourful cultural events were performed by local Indian-Americans. Bollywood playback singer Kailash Kher also took to the stage on the occasion.