When Modi says Howdy Houston

PM Modi arrived in Houston, Texas on Saturday for a week-long visit to the US. And boy did he hit the ground running. He immediately met members of the Sikh diaspora and the heads of Oil companies. The Prime Minister also walked away with an MoU for up to 5 million tons of Liquefied Natural Gas through equity investment with Tellurian and PetroNet. This, however, was not the main highlight of the weekend.
Image source- the Hindustan Times

The Cultural Exchange Program
The main event so to say was the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event. It was a cultural event on an unprecedented scale. 50,000 people gathered at the NRG Football Stadium on Sunday. It was the largest gathering ever for an elected foreign leader visiting the US; second only to the Pope. Such a gathering had to take place in a stadium capable of holding this event. Thankfully, the NRG Stadium has previously been tested on crowds drawn by Beyoncé, Metallica and U2.
1500 volunteers
600 companies
400 artists
Over 200 cars
Leaders of the 2 largest democracies in the world
 Both world leaders almost instantly greeted each other over Twitter and gave a small glimpse of what was to follow.
From Mitron to Howdy
PM Modi and President Trump took to stage, and the audience knew it was going to be an unforgettable event. After all, the Indian diaspora there still remembered Madison Square Garden. This event, however, was quite different. Modi started off with complimenting Trump and even echoed Trump from 2016 and said ‘Abki Baar Trump Sarkar’. 
This endorsement meant a lot to Trump, especially since he is facing reelection next year and 50000 votes are absolutely nothing to scoff at. So, when Trump took to the stage, he talked a lot about how India and America are true friends. He also brought up how important the Indian American community was to the US. He also remarked upon radical Islamic terrorism.
It was after this that Modi really took to the stage. The speech that followed this was almost artistic. The Indian Prime Minister kept taking potshots and direct taunts to Pakistan and its leader without naming them outrightly. Apart from boasting the success of the government in terms of better internet connectivity and speedy processes for issuing passports, Modi also addressed Article 370 and Kashmir. 
With lines like “Not just you, the whole world knows them”, “People who are unable to take care of their own country are concerned about Kashmir” and “Where were the masterminds of both 26/11 and 9/11 were found?” PM Modi let loose like never while still maintaining an almost savage grace. For a change it was Trump, who is not known for his subtle nature, that became the more nuanced leader with statements about how the US understood India’s need to secure its borders.
The crowd wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiments expressed by Modi. Perhaps the clearest indicators of this were the #PKMKB posters the attendees brought with them. 
Pakistan in Shambles
Imran Khan also visited the US over the weekend. However, the most remarkable thing about his visit seems to be the fact that he flew in the Saudi Crown Prince’s private jet. This is after the Pakistani PM was about to board a commercial plane and was stopped by the Crown Prince as he felt he could not let his guest travel in a commercial plane.  It seems that the Pakistani economy is in much direr straights than we thought. 
With Imran Khan scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on the 27th, it is inevitable that he will raise the grave issue of Kashmir. After having tried every avenue possible to internationalize the Kashmir issue and gotten squat to show for it, Imran Khan seems to be trying his last-ditch effort at a globally accepted legal avenue.
However, Modi seems to have anticipated this and taken a proactive step in destroying Pakistan’s credibility, and that too right in front of the US President. It seems that Pakistan must first collect what is left of its dignity before Imran Khan steps before the UNGA. Meanwhile, the Pakistani media has pulled an ostrich on the Howdy Modi event after the speech. However, before the event took place, the entire focus seemed to be on how many people were protesting this event and the “Genocide” in Kashmir.
The gauntlet has been thrown by PM Modi while still achieving new heights in Indo-US relations. During his address, Modi apologized to people who had wanted to attend but could not due to booking issues. The subtext was clear to the US president. There are many more votes to be gained by opposing Pakistan than by pandering to them.

- Written by Nachiket Bhushan Kondhalkar

- Edited by Maitreyi Mehndiratta

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When Modi says Howdy Houston When Modi says Howdy Houston Reviewed by EMN on September 24, 2019 Rating: 5

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