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US lawmakers hail PM Modi’s address to joint session of Congress, vouch for India-US friendship

PM Narendra Modi addressing the Joint Session of US Congress, in Washington DC (All images courtesy: PIB)

Calling it a privilege to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “the leader of the world’s largest democracy”, to address the joint session of Congress of the world’s oldest democracy, US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that he is looking forward to increased economic and national security ties between the two “great nations”.

Earlier Friday, India time, PM Modi addressed a Joint Sitting of the US Congress in Washington at the invitation McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

PM Modi US address

In his address, labelled as “for the history books” by many, Prime Minister Modi laid out his vision for the future of the “most consequential” India-US bilateral partnership and at the same time, appreciated the bipartisan support extended by the US Congress for the strong ties between the two countries.

Outlining the enormous progress made by India and the opportunities that it presents for the world, he also spoke about the rapid strides made in India-US bilateral relations and shared his vision for elevating bilateral ties.

On arrival at the Capitol Hill, PM Modi was accorded a formal welcome by the Congressional Leaders. Thereafter, he had separate meetings with McCarthy and the Congressional Leaders. US Vice President Kamala Harris was also present on the occasion.

“Today’s meeting with Indian PM Narendra Modi comes at a consequential moment in our two countries’ relationship. We face common challenges, and share a commitment to keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open,” tweeted Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

In his address, PM Modi asserted that India is home to all faiths in the world, celebrates all of them and where diversity is a natural way of life. He mentioned that today, the world wants to know “more and more about India” and he sees that curiosity in the House too.

“When I first visited the US as Prime Minister, India was the 10th largest economy in the world. Today, India is the fifth largest economy. And, India will be the third largest economy soon. We are not only growing bigger but we are also growing faster. When India grows, the whole world grows. After all, we are one sixth of the world’s population!” said PM Modi in his address.

This was the Prime Minister’s second address to the Joint Sitting of the US Congress. He previously addressed the US Congress during his official visit to the USA in September 2016.

PM Modi emphasised that the United States occupies a “special place” in India’s approach to the world and that every member of the US Congress has a deep interest in relations with New Delhi.

US Senators PM Modi

“When defence and aerospace in India grow, industries in the states of Washington, Arizona, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania thrive. When American companies grow, their research and development centres in India thrive. When Indians fly more, a single order for aircrafts creates more than a million jobs in forty-four states in America,” he said.

Listing India’s innumerable achievements, PM Modi said his government has given nearly 40 million homes to provide shelter to over 150 million people which is nearly six times the population of Australia.

He also told that India runs a national health insurance programme that ensures free medical treatment for about 500 million people that is greater than the population of South America. Nearly 500 million people – close to the population of North America – have also benefited as the government took banking to the unbanked with the world’s largest financial inclusion drive.

“We have worked on building Digital India. Today, there are more than 850 million smartphones and internet users in the country. This is more than the population of Europe! We protected our people with two-point two billion doses of made-in-India Covid vaccines, and that too free of cost! I may be running out of continents soon, so I will stop here!”

Prime Minister Modi told the US Congress members that, on visiting India, they will see everyone using phones for payments, including street vendors, as over a billion people got a unique digital biometric identity connected with their bank accounts and mobile phones in the last nine years.

“Eight hundred and fifty million people receive direct benefit financial transfers into their accounts. Three times a year, over hundred million farmers receive assistance in their bank accounts at the click of a button. The value of such transfers has crossed three hundred and twenty billion dollars, and we have saved over twenty five billion dollars in the process”.

Carrying forward PM Modi’s vision of utilising India’s current G20 presidency to give resonance to the voice of the Global South under the theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, India is marching ahead with its robust outreach to developing countries.

During his address in Washington, PM Modi once again spotlighted that the countries of the Global South have been particularly affected with the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“As I have said directly and publicly, this is not an era of war. But, it is one of dialogue and diplomacy. And, we all must do what we can to stop the bloodshed and human suffering,” he said.

Without mentioning China, Prime Minister also said that “dark clouds of coercion and confrontation” are casting their shadow in the Indo Pacific and the stability of the region has become one of the central concerns of India-US partnership.

“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 in their choices, where progress is not suffocated by impossible burdens of debt, where connectivity is not leveraged for strategic purposes, where all nations are lifted by the high tide of shared prosperity”.

Later, Speaker McCarthy hosted a reception in the honour of Prime Minister.