~ By Guru Prakash
“India is the cradle of human race,the birthplace of human speech,the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most constructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” -Mark Twain
Envisioning and building a world movement has always remained one of the chief prerogatives of Indian thinkers. Armed with spirituality and a unique civilization, India has guided the searchlight towards the realization of spiritual development of the world. In the following lines, a modest attempt has been made to draw parallels between the century old historical visit of Swami Vivekananda and the recently concluded tour of the Prime Minister (PM) of India, Shri Narendra Modi, to the United States of America.
As Shri Modi touched base at the John F Kennedy Airport, United States of America, a fresh wave of optimism was palpable among the ambassadorial fraternity of the world. The strategic thinkers and the discourse builders of diplomacy were in complete awe of an individual who is a representative of over one sixth of the humanity. Not only did Shri Modi speak on behalf of his countrymen at the world collegium of leaders in the General assembly of the United Nations, but he also represented the rich and unparalleled cultural and spiritual heritage of his homeland.
The first interface between India and the United States was impervious to the considerations of realpolitik. A Sage through his wisdom formed the bedrock of synergy between the two countries. Similar ecstasy as of today prevailed on the shores of America when another Yogi illuminated the World Parliament of Religions almost a century ago. Swami Vivekananda’s address to the parliament began with ‘Brothers and Sisters of America’ that still thrills the conscience of many. Swami Ji received a standing ovation and substantially reoriented the western notion on Indic knowledge. It was a watershed moment for India that introduced its depth and spiritual prowess to the world. The speech is still regarded as a gospel for religious leaders throughout different faiths and regions. Ideas evolve but values travels through the passage of time. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi today is a representative of similar heritage. India and America have shared an identity based on democracy and development. Although the dynamics of international relations have been redefined with the evolution of prerogatives and policy landscapes, India as a nation has always stood on the unshakeable principles of pragmatic idealism, cultural uniformity and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’– (World is a family). Barring few exceptions, the two nations have ushered in harmony with a strong belief in uninterrupted growth and development of its region and people alike.
Investment opportunities, defense ties, P2P (People to People) interface, social security of workers are expected to be the priority areas of collaboration between both the countries in the days to come. The PM of India known for his tough but practical negotiating skills is certain to ensure that substantial portion of benefits reach his countrymen without a doubt. The new era of friendship under his able supervision and visionary guidance is set to take this pivotal bilateral relationship to a different level.
The world leaders at the General Assembly of the United Nations and keen followers of diplomacy were eagerly looking forward to hear the PM at UNGA (United Nations General Assembly). Through his illuminating address, he outlined a visionary roadmap for the world free from the scourge of terrorism and elucidated a deliberative forum comprising of all nations, in the name of G-All. Emphasis was rightly laid upon “Comprehensive International Convention on Terror” wherein he urged the leaders to get together and resolve the impasse on terrorism and related disruptive activities that have now become a stumbling block to peace and human development in the world. He added that a misplaced notion of Good terrorism and Bad terrorism is only a tool to mislead the fight against the ghastly act of terror. With the objective of popularizing Yoga at the global platform, he proposed the ‘International Year of Yoga’ which was hugely applauded and supported by the South Asian nations. An unusual display of statecraft was visible when the Prime Minister strongly registered his disapproval of Pakistan’s incessant approach of internationalizing the issue of Jammu & Kashmir. By avoiding a harsh tone he successfully drove home the point that no talk can occur in the shadow of terror and Pakistan should endeavor for an amicable environment to resume the dialogue on any pertinent issue. The social media was abuzz with his speech and a noticeable excitement was palpable. One of the commentators on Facebook termed it as “N.A.M to NAMO doctrine of assertion” in International relations.
After the General Assembly it was the turn of Madison Square Garden to host the PM. As expected he straightway struck an emotional chord with the Indian diaspora. Outlining the avenues of mutual exercises, he listed out three great advantages that are unique to India in the form of Democracy, Demography and Demand. In his quintessential tenor of integrating a pinch of humor to realistic issues, he enthralled the audience of over 20,000 in the garden and more viewing it on special huge screens planted at the exotic Times Square and other places. He reiterated Good Governance and Development have to be made a mass movement similar to the national struggle for independence. True to this, his address was an appeal to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and other overseas citizens to participate in the process of development of their homeland. Merging of OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) and PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) schemes was announced for the convenience and ease of travel for the Indians residing in America. Apart from removing the regulatory bottlenecks, the Prime Minister also enlightened the audience on the recently launched ‘Make in India’ campaign. India will graciously welcome everyone with red carpet. By terming 21st century as the Indian century, he enthused optimism in every one present. The PM also reinforced that, Climate Change is imperative for Sustainable Development. He outlined that home for all by 2022 and ending financial untouchability are among the important commitments of his Government. The address culminated with huge cheers and applause for the unmatchable grace of the Shri Narendra Modi.
With the requisite level of faith and hope, we are destined to rekindle the meaningful engagement with the United States of America. The fusion of age-old spiritual wisdom with modern dynamics of development can indeed do the needful. The abiding faith and consolidated resolve of the oldest and largest democracies will set an example of sustainable development and inclusive growth for the world.
Guru Prakash is a Research Scholar at University of Delhi. He has been a Research Associate at Indian Foundation. The views expressed are his own.