"We are home to all faiths in the world, and we celebrate all of them. In India, diversity is a natural way of life...," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he began to address the Joint Meeting of the US Congress on Thursday at the White House. Modi, who is on a four-day official visit to the States, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. during the joint sitting and added, "We remember many others who worked for liberty, equality and justice."
This was his second address to a joint sitting, a first for an Indian prime minister. His first address was in June 2016. The US Congress was filled with chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Vande Mataram' after PM Modi finished his nearly hour-long address of the joint session. "It is always great honour to address US Congress and it is an exceptional privilege to do so twice," the prime minister remarked.
Modi was accorded a grand welcome at the White House, by US President Joe Biden and the leaders held one-on-one talks at the Oval Office to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual and global interests.
According to the official statement of the Joint Meeting of the US Congress, released later, the US and India are said to have taken steps towards deepening bilateral cooperation to strengthen economic relationships, including trade ties. It added that the two countries are looking forward to the reconvening of the India-US Trade Policy Forum later this year to further enhance the trade relationship and identify new areas for engagement.
1. Further, speaking about democratic values at large, Modi said, "Beauty of democracy is constant connect with people, to listen to them, and feel their pulse." He further added, "Democracy is one of our sacred and shared values. Democracy is the spirit that supports equality and dignity. Democracy is the idea that welcomes debate and discourse. Democracy is the culture that gives wings to thought and expression. In the evolution of democratic spirit, India is Mother of Democracy."
2. Touching upon terrorism, Modi remarked that two decades after 9/11 and a decade after 26/11 in Mumbai, radicalism and terrorism still remain a pressing danger for the whole world. "Terrorism is an enemy of humanity and there can be no ifs or buts in dealing with it. We must overcome all such forces sponsoring and exporting terror," he said.
3. Referring to the recent political developments in the Indo-Pacific region, Modi said that the Indo-Pacific region is a shared concern and shared vision that should be "free from domination". "We share a vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, connected by secure seas, defined by international law, free from domination and anchored in ASEAN centrality... A region where all nations small and large, are free and fearless and in their choices, where progress is not suffocated by an impossible burden of debt, where connectivity is not leveraged for strategic purposes..." he was quoted in his address.
4. Modi also emphasised women-led initiatives in India. "In modern India, women are leading us to a better future. Today women serve our country in the Army, Navy and Air Force," he said, adding that India's vision is not just of development which benefits women. It is of women-led development, where women lead the journey of progress.
5. Emphasising the defence ties between the two countries, Modi said, "Today, the United States has become one of our most important defence partners. Today, India and the US are working together in space and in the seas, in science and in semiconductors, in startups and sustainability, in tech and in trade, in farming and finance, in art and Artificial Intelligence...," Modi said during his address at the joint sitting of the US Congress.
#WATCH | Today, the United States has become one of our most important defence partners. Today, India and the US are working together in space and in the seas, in science and in semiconductors, in startups and sustainability, in tech and in trade, in farming and finance, in art… pic.twitter.com/qIdOs6gN2a— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2023
6. According to the Joint Statment, "The US-India trade and investment partnership is an engine for global growth, with bilateral trade exceeding USD 191 billion in 2022, nearly doubling from 2014." PM Modi and President Biden also applauded the reconvening of the US-India Commercial Dialogue and CEO Forum in March in New Delhi.
7. The Joint Statement mentioned that the countries have encouraged respective industries to take action on the recommendations from CEOs for greater engagement and technical cooperation to build resilient supply chains for emerging technologies, clean energy technologies, and pharmaceuticals; promote an innovative digital economy; lower barriers to trade and investment; harmonise standards and regulations wherever feasible; and work towards skilling of workforces. "The leaders support continued active engagement between the US Treasury Department and the Indian Ministry of Finance under the Economic and Financial Partnership dialogue." Modi and President Biden have committed their administrations to promote policies and adapting regulations that facilitate greater technology sharing, co-development, and co-production opportunities between the US and Indian industry, government, and academic institutions.
8. The statement said Modi and Biden welcomed Air India's historic agreement with Boeing to acquire more than 200 US-made aircraft. This purchase, it said, will support more than one million US jobs across 44 states and contribute to ongoing efforts to modernise the civil aviation sector in India. Boeing has announced a USD 100 million investment on infrastructure and programmes to train pilots in India, supporting India's need for 31,000 new pilots over the next 20 years. The leaders also welcomed Boeing's announcement of its completion of a C-17 aftermarket support facility for MRO and a new parts logistics centre in India to capture future synergies between defence and civil aviation.
9. Prime Minister Modi also expressed India's interest towards being recognised as a Trade Agreements Act-designated country by the US to further enhance the integration of both economies and to further promote trade and investment between the two countries. In this regard, the leaders welcomed the initiation of discussions between both sides at an official level on issues related to bilateral government procurement.
10. The leaders also reiterated their commitment to pursuing ambitious efforts to strengthen Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to address shared global challenges of the 21st century, according to the statement. "By the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi, the United States and India will work together to secure G20 commitment to create a major new dedicated pool of funds at the World Bank to deploy concessional lending for global challenges, and to enhance support for crisis response in International Development Association recipient countries," the statement said.
Noting the developments, Chief Executive at General Atomics Global Corporation Vivek Lall said, "We are very happy to note that Prime Minister Modi and President Biden have significantly enhanced the defence relationship between the two countries by announcing the decision to acquire MQ9B for the Indian armed forces."
Following his joint address and a press conference, a State Dinner was hosted in honour of Modi at the White House on Thursday. More than 400 guests were invited to the dinner hosted by the Bidens at a specially decorated pavilion on the South Lawn of the White House.
In his address at the State Dinner, Modi said the guests "symbolise so much about the US-India relationship - our energy, our dynamism, and our potential". "You have gathered a group of exceptionally talented and remarkable people tonight, I must commend you for that," he said thanking President Biden and the first lady for hosting the dinner.
Prime Minister Modi is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.