Memorable excerpts from the PM’s address to the joint session of US Congress on June 8
GN Bureau | June 10, 2016
The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the American constitution. Our founding fathers too shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India. There were many who doubted India when, as a newly independent nation, we reposed our faith in democracy. Indeed, wagers were made on our failure. But, the people of India did not waver. Our founders created a modern nation with freedom, democracy, and equality as the essence of its soul. And, in doing so, they ensured that we continued to celebrate our age-old diversity. Today, across its streets and institutions, in its villages and cities, anchored in equal respect for all faiths; and in the melody of hundreds of its languages and dialects. India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one.
Engagement between our democracies has been visible in the manner in which our thinkers impacted one another, and shaped the course of our societies. Thoreau's idea of civil disobedience influenced our political thoughts. And, similarly the call by the great sage of India Swami Vivekananda to embrace humanity was most famously delivered in Chicago. Gandhi's non-violence inspired the heroism of Martin Luther King. Today, a mere distance of three miles separates the Martin Luther King memorial at Tidal Basin from the statue of Gandhi at Massachusetts Avenue. This proximity of their memorials in Washington mirrors the closeness of ideals and values they believed in. The genius of Dr BR Ambedkar was nurtured in the years he spent at the Columbia University a century ago. The impact of the US constitution on him was reflected in his drafting of the Indian constitution some three decades later. Our independence was ignited by the same idealism that fuelled your struggle for freedom.
Long before assuming office, I travelled coast to coast, covering more than 25 States of America.
I realised then that the real strength of the US was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions. Today, Mr Speaker, a similar spirit animates India. Our 800 million youth, especially, are particularly impatient. India is undergoing a profound social and economic change. A billion of its citizens are already politically empowered. My dream is to economically empower them through many social and economic transformations. And, do so by 2022, the seventy-fifth anniversary of India's independence. My to-do list is long and ambitious. But you will understand. It includes:
• A vibrant rural economy with robust farm sector;
• A roof over each head and electricity to all households;
• To skill millions of our youth;
• Build 100 smart cities;
• Have a broad band for a billion, and connect our villages to the digital world;
• And create a twenty-first century rail, road and port infrastructure.
These are not just aspirations; they are goals to be reached in a finite time-frame. And, to be achieved with a light carbon foot print, with greater emphasis on renewables.
The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation.
And base it on a policy:
• that isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists;
• that does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism.
Also, for us to succeed, those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice. Terrorism must be delegitimized.
As we deepen our partnership, there would be times when we would have differing perspectives.
But, since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision making and diversity in our perspectives can only add value to our partnership.
So, as we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine but transformational ideas.
Ideas which can focus:
• Not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies;
• Not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits;
• Not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and
• Not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world. And, important for the success of this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities. When we do this, we will realise the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.
My final thoughts and words would reiterate that our relationship is primed for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place.
In the lines of Walt Whitman, “The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.”
And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play.
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