Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said there can be “no ifs or buts” in dealing with terrorism and sought action against state sponsors of terrorism, in a veiled attack on Pakistan.
In his address to the Joint Meeting of the US Congress, Prime Minister Modi said that more than two decades after 9/11 and more than a decade after 26/11 in Mumbai, radicalism and terrorism still remain a pressing danger for the whole world.
“These ideologies keep taking new identities and forms, but their intentions are the same. Terrorism is an enemy of humanity and there can be no ifs or buts in dealing with it. We must overcome all such forces sponsoring and exporting terror,” Modi said in his 60-minute address in English.
Modi also made a veiled reference to China, saying the global order is based on the respect for the principles of the UN Charter, peaceful resolution of disputes, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The dark clouds of coercion and confrontation are casting their shadow in the Indo-Pacific. The stability of the region has become one of the central concerns of our partnership,” Modi said, in an apparent reference to China’s aggressive behaviour in the strategic region.
“We share a vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, connected by secure seas, defined by international law, free from domination, and anchored in ASEAN centrality,” Modi said in his address to the Joint Meeting of the US Congress, which was attended by Congressmen and Senators along with hundreds of Indian-Americans watching it from the visitors gallery.
The Prime Minister said a region where all nations, small and large, are free and fearless in their choices, where progress is not suffocated by an impossible burden of debt, where connectivity is not leveraged for strategic purposes, where all nations are lifted by the high tide of shared prosperity.
“Our vision does not seek to contain or exclude, but to build a cooperative region of peace and prosperity. We work through regional institutions and with our partners from within the region and beyond. Of this, QUAD has emerged as a major force of good for the region,” he said.
Noting that the Ukraine conflict is causing great pain in the region, Modi said he has said directly and publicly, “this is not an era of war. But, it is one of dialogue and diplomacy.”
Representing 1.4 billion Indians, Modi said it is always a great honour to address the US Congress and it is an exceptional privilege to do so twice. This is the second time that the prime minister has addressed the US Congress, the first time being in 2016.
“Now, when our era is at a crossroads, I am here to speak about our calling for this century,” he said.
In his address, Modi said in the past few years, there have been many advances in AI- Artificial Intelligence. At the same time, there have been even more momentous developments in another AI- America and India, he added.
“We were strangers in the defence cooperation at turn of the century. Now, the US has become one of our most important defence partners,” Modi, who is currently on his maiden state visit, said. His words received a standing ovation from the lawmakers.
Modi said democracy is one of their sacred and shared values.
“It has evolved over a long time, and taken various forms and systems. Throughout history, however, one thing has been clear. Democracy is the spirit that supports equality and dignity. Democracy is the idea that welcomes debate and discourse,” he said.
“Democracy is the culture that gives wings to thought and expression. India is blessed to have such values from times immemorial. In the evolution of the democratic spirit, India is the Mother of Democracy,” he added.
“We celebrated a remarkable journey of over 75 years of freedom, after a thousand years of foreign rule in one form or another,” he said, adding that this was not just a celebration of democracy, but also of diversity. “Not just of the Constitution, but also of its spirit of social empowerment. Not just of our competitive and cooperative federalism, but also of our essential unity and integrity,” he said.
“We were honoured to receive over hundred Members of the US Congress in India over the last decade. Everyone wants to understand India’s development, democracy and diversity. Everyone wants to know what India is doing right and how,” he said.
The prime minister said when he first visited the US as Prime Minister, India was the tenth largest economy in the world. Today, India is the fifth largest economy and India will be the third largest economy soon. “We are not only growing bigger but we are also growing faster. When India grows, the whole world grows. After all, we are one sixth of the world’s population!” he said.
Modi said India is an ancient nation with a youthful population. “India is known for its traditions. But the younger generation is also making it a hub of technology. Be it creative reels on lnsta or real time payments, coding or quantum computing, machine learning or mobile apps, FinTech or data science, the youth of India are a great example of how a society can embrace latest technology,” he said.
“In India, technology is not only about innovation but also about inclusion. Today, digital platforms are empowering the rights and dignity of people, while protecting privacy. The value of such transfers has crossed three hundred and twenty billion dollars, and we have saved over USD 25 billion in the process,” he said.
Modi told the lawmakers that if they visit India, they will see everyone is using phones for payments, including street vendors.
“Last year, out of every 100 real time digital payments in the world, forty six happened in India. Nearly four hundred thousand miles of optical fibre cables, and cheap data have ushered in a revolution of opportunities,” he said.
“Farmers check weather updates, the elderly get social security payments, students access scholarships, doctors deliver tele-medicine, fishermen check fishing grounds and small businesses get loans, with just a tap on their phones,” he said.
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