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Diaspora optimistic about Indo-US ties under Modi, TrumpFile photos of Narendra Modi and Donald Trump

Diaspora optimistic about Indo-US ties under Modi, Trump

26 Jun 2017 | 4:03 PM

WASHINGTON: The enthusiastic Indian diaspora gathered in Virginia to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address voiced optimism about the future of Indo-US ties under the leadership of Modi and President Donald Trump.

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Washington, June 26

The enthusiastic Indian diaspora gathered in Virginia to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address voiced optimism about the future of Indo-US ties under the leadership of Modi and President Donald Trump.

Dressed in their traditional finery, the nearly 600 Indian-Americans said they believe that the millions-strong Indian diaspora in the US can make a big difference in the bilateral ties.

Though the event was attended by more than 600 community members, it was much less compared to Modi’s 2014 Madison Square Garden reception attended by over 18,000 people.

The prime minister spoke for nearly 50 minutes at the event in Hindi and explained to the audience the welfare programmes his government has launched in past three years.

Sudhir Parikh, a medical doctor and long time community leader, told PTI that India is moving forward under Modi’s leadership. Modi “correctly believes that the Indian diaspora can make a big difference between US and India relations.”                 On Modi’s first bilateral meeting with Trump, Parikh said he expects the two leaders to discuss bilateral defence deals, the H1B visa and other immigration issues and the Paris climate deal.

“Modi is an excellent politician and is almost like a businessman. He knows how to handle other businessmen. Trump is a businessman. I am sure they will connect with each other and the outcome of the meeting will be very positive and set the stage for further strengthening of bilateral ties,” he said.

Anil Sharma of the organisation ‘Overseas Volunteer for Better India’ said there are high expectations from the Modi- Trump meeting, especially against the backdrop of the uncertainty arising out of the Trump administration’s H1B visa policies, and racist attacks against members of the Indian community.

“We really hope that our concerns on these issues will be taken up at the highest level,” Sharma said.

Pragya Chisti from New Jersey said the meeting between Trump and Modi will be a “historic one.” She said cultural exchanges between the two nations have played a role in strengthening bilateral ties.

“There is a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm about India’s relations with the US. I expect only a positive outcome from the Trump-Modi meeting and for the future of the two countries,” she said.

Attorney Ravi Batra said Modi promises Indian-Americans that India will be a global force for good because India’s 800 million youth’s dreams are “young dreams”.

“The durable partnership between US and India is driven by people,” he said.

His supporter from Chicago, Nirav Patel said Modi is an inspiration for young second-generation Indian-Americans.

Puneet Ahluwalia, who had been a member of then presidential candidate Trump’s Asian Advisory Committee, said the meeting between Trump and Modi is the most anticipated meeting between two leaders for the Indo-Asia Pacific region in regards to stability, addressing terrorism & defence.

“Overcoming trade and investment barriers would calm the concerns of the US leadership, trade associations and businesses. Both leaders are visionaries. I am optimistic for a stronger Trump-Modi partnership,” he said.

Meanwhile, a group of pro-Khalistan Sikhs protested outside the venue of Modi’s addressing to the diaspora, holding placards “Don’t Invest in India” and “India Committed Genocide of Sikhs.”

The activists who had travelled from across the US and Canada shouted slogans in favour of Punjab independence referendum 2020 to create a Sikh country “Khalistan”.

Rights group ‘Sikhs For Justice’ (SFJ) has sent a communique to Trump on the alleged “worsening Sikh situation in India and urging him to raise the issues of separate religious identity to Sikhs in the Indian Constitution and Sikhs’ right to self determination as guaranteed in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”       “Ever since Modi took office, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India,” claimed Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to SFJ.

Before Modi’s address to the community, a short film was shown highlighting his government’s achievements and policies over the past three years, including the demonetisation drive, Goods and Services Tax, and the Clean India campaign.

The audience cheered loudly and chanted ‘Modi, Modi’ as Modi appeared on stage. After the national anthems of India and the US were played, India’s Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna, briefly spoke.

Arrangements were made to take group photographs with Modi. PTI

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