In the extremely high profile visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the USA, the personal highlight for many Indians across the world seemed to be the speech at Madison Square Garden. In a departure from the Team Netapedia tradition, this edition of the blog is presented as a personal view of yet another Indian who just moved to the USA.

The visit has been scheduled for a while now and is a great example of how even a strong and powerful nation such as USA has to reverse its decision. In this case, more specifically, granting a US visa to PM Modi. The timing of the visit coincided with many important events primarily the success of the Mangalayaan mission and one of the most important Indian festival of Navaratri. It was a series of proud moments for Indians as we saw our country’s standing go up in a virtually high fliers club. Personally, I had to control myself from gloating when I heard local students discuss the Mars orbiter. ISRO made not only India proud but became the latest decision changer to all those Non-resident Indians whose one feet continues to remain in India and are experiencing their own variants of to be or not to be in America.

As a new graduate student in a new country, all of us were dealing with cultural shocks and an intensive study load. With very less to look forward to apart from checking facebook for those who were enjoying Navaratri in India, Modi’s speech served as a reminder of not only my current purpose but also of the greater picture I need to keep in mind. Although I missed the live version of the speech, watching the recorded version did make me feel I was at Madison Garden Square and not really in a small city located diagonally opposite, 2,400 miles away from New York City.

The most striking thing I felt while listening to the speech was the perfect combination of content and delivery. Not only was the content designed to touch the cord with the Indians in America but the speech itself was delivered with the right mix of soberness and melodrama which was the real reason of the impact it had. Coming from IT background made me cheer as well just the way all those who watched the speech live. He had the attention right at the start with the little anecdote. Despite everything Indians have achieved in US, one continues to need a reassurance and who better than the PM himself to say ‘good job people.’ As a rookie graduate student questioning the decision to come to foreign country in the hope of better jobs and career ahead, it did calm me briefly into believing it will all be fine.

Being a part of the 65% Indian population under 35, did scare me about the cusp our country stands on in employment and skill development. However, his strong pitch for asking the NRIs and NRIs-in-making such as me and most of my friends at graduate school, is a hope and a plea to give back to the country which made us good enough to come and compete successfully in a foreign land. Like a master businessman selling his strengths, he pointed to the high points and anecdotes pertaining to the general elections, changes in FDI norms to persuade and reach out to more people on improving manufacturing in India. It was designed and delivered not just to inspire but also to attract investment. His references and citations about the cost effectiveness of Mangalayaan points subtly hinted at India as a possible cost effective investment destination.

By highlighting and encouraging the use of portals such as MyGov, he appealed to the increasingly technology savvy Indians all across the world who could give their suggestions no matter which ever country they currently reside in. He went on to project the atmosphere of hope and clamour for change back home. In talking about the Clean Ganga Initiative, he touches upon the perils that await us if climate change and environment is ignored. He appealed further to NRIs and Indian-American citizens by providing solutions for the visa issues related to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).

Overall, he knew his audience well not just in terms of their emotional levels but also their intellectual and investment capabilities. Given the mood of Indians in America due to Mangalayaan success and the Navaratri festival, the timing of the visit and the speech were perfectly leveraged to deliver maximum impact to the audience. I count myself lucky that I had the whole day to follow the news on general elections results day. It was heartening to know that my friends and relatives here in America showed the same enthusiasm and were up at midnight tracking the news as well. Given the number of Indians at workplaces here, it was the top conversation at water coolers here as well. What he did at Madison Square garden was to connect to both sets of audience with the hope that someday we all come together and make the India of our dreams.

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia