How incredible were the organizers of the Howdy Modi event in Houston, TX? The sheer vision & guts to organize a 50,000 plus audience for Prime Minister Modi in Houston & the brilliance to invite President Trump!
Leaders of mass movements don’t share the stage very well, especially when they come from such different backgrounds & have such different objectives. But great leaders understand the historic greatness of the moment in front of them & master it. That is what President Trump & Prime Minister Modi did in Houston.
This was not an America-India event; it was not a government event. It was a moment for two incredible men to make their shared moment greater than each of them & benefit themselves as a corollary. We think the friendship both President Trump & Prime Minister Modi claimed and their joint ability to move the huge crowd with their chemistry have changed the geopolitical dynamics of the entire world. But that is secondary & for tomorrow.
What these two great speakers & leaders did is enhance the political strength of each other and their own strength as a result. President Trump is embarking on his re-election campaign, a campaign that is likely to be both close & nasty. So far, he has not focused efforts on the Indian American community & on the Asian-American community in general. Usually it takes awhile to get critical political mind share in a community. That’s where Prime Minister Modi stepped in.
Prime Minister Modi also has important state elections in October. Also he has launched foreign policy & economic initiatives that have encountered some opposition. He & India needed a global uplift in both image & support. That is where President Trump, the America First President, stepped in.
Look how it began:
- “Mr President, you had introduced me to your family in 2017. And today, I have the honour to introduce you to my family. Over a billion Indians and people of Indian heritage around the globe, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my friend, a friend of India, a great American President Mr Donald Trump,”
And look how it ended – two winners taking a joint victory lap around the stadium, hand in hand*:
What a tremendous launch of the Trump Re-election campaign among Indian-Americans? People will remember this lap all through 2020 & way beyond. It will become a historic moment in US-India partnership.
President Trump is a master of massive rallies as we all saw in 2016 and as we keep seeing now. His message rings well & true in the generally prosperous Indian American community. But there has always been a worry, some misgivings about American leadership among Indian-Americans & the global Indian diaspora.
President Trump took care of that. The crowd welcomed him with the trademark USA USA chant of a Trump Rally. Then, near the end of his speech, he delivered the message. Focus on two minutes (17:20 to 19:20) of his speech below:
- ” … We stand proudly in defense of liberty & we are committed to protecting innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism …. to keep our community safe, we must protect our borders… border security is vital to United States, border security is vital to India, we understand that . … “
That statement “border security is vital to India – we understand that” had never been uttered in public by an American President. Saying that to a huge crowd in Houston, saying that in front of the entire world was a crossing of the terrorism rubicon by President Trump.
Prime Minister Modi went farther in his speech, farther than any Indian Prime Minister had gone before and he did so in the presence of President Trump in America’s heartland:
First he pointed a finger without naming the evil guys (minute 35:00):
- “they have made hate towards India the center of their foreign policy, they have opted against peace, they are supporters of terrorism; they create & nurture terrorism; their nature – the entire world understands it”
Then he linked the two horrific attacks on America & India:
- “whether it is 9/11 in America or 26/11 in Mumbai, the planners & implementers – where can you find them?”
Then Prime Minister made a statement, an exhortation that even President Trump described as aggressive in their joint press conference in NY a couple of days later:
- (minute 37:35) – “Friends, now the time has come for a decisive battle to be fought against those commit terrorism & those who nurture & encourage terrorism“
Then PM Modi made President Trump a partner in this battle to come:
- (minute 38:24) – “I want to say forcefully that, in this battle, President Trump with all his power has risen against terrorism … the mental strength of President Trump to fight against terrorism – we all stand & give him a standing ovation“
Understand that we had never seen mass rallies in America like the Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign. The Mobile, Alabama rally drew 35,000 people, an unheard of number until then. Even today, a Trump rally draws thousands of people, many more than can enter the venue. And we all have seen Trump rallies on TV – the cheering, the raucous chants & the crowd totally on board with the President they love. That is all Donald Trump & he knows that.
That is why it says so much when President Trump was amazed at the size & the spirit of the crowd at Howdy Modi in Houston, TX. Look what he said a few days later in New York at their joint press conference:
- (minute 6:42) – “I think what the event showed is how much I like the country of India & how much I like your prime minister; there was tremendous spirit in that room; they love this gentleman to my right; they really do; those people went crazy; it was like Elvis; He is like an American version of Elvis; … Elvis Presley came back; it was quite something; I love your Prime Minister.. “
And he added succinctly on Twitter:
*PS – This lap was clearly a spur of the moment decision – watch the surprised US Secret Service try & contain the circle around the two leaders.
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