By Prof. Amarasiri de Silva
When US President Joe Biden rolled out the red carpet on the South Lawn of the White House for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday morning, their meeting held a significant purpose. At the forefront of their agenda was the aim to forge a formidable alliance between the two nations, centered around promoting the freedom of business and naval activities in the Asia Pacific oceans. Recognising the strategic importance of the region, both leaders were committed to harnessing an accord that would enhance economic opportunities and strengthen security cooperation, ushering in a new era of collaboration between the United States and India.
Prime Minister Modi’s speech at the joint session of the US Congress served as an enlightening moment for Sri Lanka and a valuable lesson for politicians in Sri Lanka and around the world. It was a powerful antidote to promoting aversion, hatred, and war-mongering. It showcased a visionary approach toward international relations and set the stage for a new era of cooperation and understanding. His speech this time is far superior to his speech at the US Congress on June 8, 2016, at which time India was the 10th leading economy in the world. But in 2023, in his speech, he disclosed that India is the 5th leading economy in the world, showing the progress achieved under his leadership. Among other Asian political leaders who spoke at the US Congress, Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (April 29, 2015), Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (September 19, 2012), and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (August 5, 2005) were prominent. They all discussed the strong alliance between their countries and the United States and highlighted the importance of bilateral cooperation and democracy. Mr. Modi’s speech is unique in that he was speaking for global development and global democracy at a time when India has reached its local development to a reasonable maximum level by addressing the local inequalities. Mr. Modi’s address emphasised the importance of fostering unity, peace, and harmony among nations. His words resonated beyond borders, challenging divisive ideologies, and highlighting the need for a more inclusive and compassionate world. By denouncing policies and actions that fuel conflict and animosity, he encouraged leaders everywhere to embrace a more constructive approach in dealing with complex global issues.
The speech by Prime Minister Modi not only captivated the attention of the US Congress but also had a profound impact on Sri Lanka. It served as a wake-up call, urging politicians in Sri Lanka to reevaluate their rhetoric and policies. It demonstrated that leadership could transcend narrow agendas and instead focus on promoting dialogue, cooperation, and mutual respect among nations. Moreover, Prime Minister Modi’s statement about heralding a new beginning in the world order carries immense significance. It signifies a departure from traditional power dynamics and a shift towards a more collaborative and inclusive global framework. The speech serves as a clarion call for leaders worldwide to work together towards a future characterized by peace, progress, and shared prosperity.
The transformation of India’s economic landscape under Mr. Modi’s guidance is a testament to his strategic vision and commitment to development. During his speech, Mr. Modi eloquently highlighted the remarkable progress that India has achieved under his leadership. With a sense of grace and pride, he acknowledged the significant milestones India has crossed on its path to development. Thanks to his visionary leadership and concerted efforts, India has climbed the ranks and now proudly stands as the fifth largest economy in the world. His policies and initiatives have propelled India forward, unlocking its immense potential and igniting rapid growth across various sectors. The nation’s rise in economic stature reflects the hard work and perseverance of its people, as well as the enabling environment created through policy reforms and pro-business measures. These are lessons for Sri Lanka.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Modi’s aspirations extend even further. As he mentioned in his speech, India is determined to strive for the pinnacle of economic development, aiming to become the top-ranked developed country worldwide despite representing one-sixth of the global population. This ambitious goal demonstrates the unwavering determination of India and its people to achieve excellence on the world stage.
PM Modi’s vision of India’s future as a top developed nation is not only rooted in economic progress but also encompasses various other dimensions of development. It encompasses improvements in education, healthcare, infrastructure, innovation, and social welfare, all of which are vital components of a comprehensive and sustainable development agenda. The mention of India’s pursuit to become the world’s foremost developed country with its vast population is a testament to the potential of its human capital and the collective efforts of its citizens. It signifies the belief that every individual’s contribution matters, and that inclusive development is crucial for the nation’s overall progress.
In his impactful speech, Mr. Modi effectively conveyed that India has made significant strides in addressing local issues, economic challenges, and fostering overall development. He highlighted the remarkable progress achieved in improving the lives of millions of Indians. One crucial aspect he emphasised was the widespread accessibility of AI technology, smartphones, and the internet. He proudly stated that even individuals on the streets, while engaging in everyday activities like purchasing vegetables or availing services at barbershops, rely on their smartphones for convenient transactions.
Moreover, PM Modi underscored the substantial advancements made in ensuring the well-being of India’s vast population. He highlighted that millions of people now have access to free healthcare, housing, and various other essential facilities. This focus on inclusive development reflects India’s commitment to uplifting its citizens and providing them with a better quality of life.
The Prime Minister also touched upon the significant progress achieved in transportation infrastructure. He highlighted that India’s transportation development has reached an apex, indicating the nation’s commitment to improving connectivity and facilitating smooth movement of goods and people across the country. This development not only enhances economic opportunities but also enhances social cohesion by bringing people closer together.
Furthermore, Mr. Modi acknowledged the efforts made in minimising social inequalities. He emphasised that steps have been taken to address the issue of inequality, and as a symbol of progress, he mentioned that a tribal leader now represents the presidency. This representation signifies the nation’s commitment to inclusivity and demonstrates the strides taken to ensure equal opportunities for all.
PM Modi’s speech resonates with the remarkable achievements India has made on various fronts, addressing local issues, driving economic growth, and advancing overall development. The accessibility of technology, exemplified by widespread smartphone usage and access to the internet, signifies India’s progress in bridging the digital divide and ensuring connectivity for millions of people. The provision of essential facilities, such as free healthcare and housing, showcases the government’s commitment to improving the quality of life for its citizens.
Prime Minister Modi’s speech not only resonates within India but also offers valuable lessons to politicians worldwide. His emphasis on shunning divisive ideologies and promoting unity underscores the importance of collaboration and understanding in a rapidly changing global landscape. The call to embrace a new world order built on cooperation and harmony inspires leaders to work towards a brighter and more harmonious future for all.
PM Modi’s speech showcases his unwavering dedication to India’s progress and belief in its potential. It exemplifies the transformative impact that effective leadership, strategic policies, and collective effort can have on a nation. His address serves as an inspiration to not only Indians but also the global community, highlighting the possibilities of overcoming challenges and achieving extraordinary development outcomes through determination, vision and inclusive governance.