Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 7, 2014 — Modi’s first official visit to the United States as India’s Prime Minister included both a boisterous welcome and serious talks.
A jubilant, cheering crowd of 19,000 fans received Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The roar that greeted the newly elected Modi for his speech at the arena followed a more measured reception at the U.N. General Assembly and preceded the warm, though more formal, meetings at the White House.
Modi’s appearance in New York, which marked his first official visit to the United States, was quite a turnaround. His controversial handling of deadly sectarian riots that broke out in Gujarat in 2002, when he was chief minister of that state, led the U.S. government to place him under a visa ban in 2005.
Modi was accused of passively accepting and even encouraging violence that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths — accusations that he denied. The U.S. ban prevented him from traveling in or out of the United States. The Indian Prime Minister now travels on a diplomatic visa.
While Modi did not make any mention of the 2002 violence in Gujarat while speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, he did make a veiled reference to the impact the deadly turmoil had on him in his speech at Madison Square Garden, saying that he understood what fellow Indians go through when they try to obtain a visa. Most of the crowd was made up of Indian-Americans.
The premier coupled his allusion to the Gujarat riots with a promise to ease visa restrictions for Indian-Americans seeking to return to their ancestral land.
“Prime Minister Modi’s pledge to ease visa restrictions for Indian-Americans who wish to return to the country of their heritage is partially a recognition of the significant number of Indians who have immigrated to the United States,” said Annie Banerjee, a Houston immigration attorney. “It also speaks to the value of the highly skilled Indian professionals who predominate the immigrant population, boosting the economy both here and in India.”
Modi also met with the heads of 17 multinationals, including Google, Boeing, IBM, PepsiCo and MasterCard, and he enjoyed a private dinner with President Obama.
While his Monday meetings were on the ascetic side, due to the Hindu religious rite of Navratri, Modi’s agenda was dominated by businesslike objectives that were encapsulated by his comments describing the United States as India’s “natural partner.”
“The fanfare of Modi’s reception at Madison Square Garden notwithstanding, his first visit to the United States was a very serious attempt to set the table for Indian-American relations in the coming years,” Banerjee said. The broadening relationship between the world’s largest democracy and one of the world’s oldest democracies makes this visit all the more important.”
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