On Howdy Modi — my impressions from my first political rally
Shared dreams, bright futures was on display on Sunday at the NRG Stadium here in Houston. Leaders representing two of worlds largest democracies were on stage to promote each other’s agenda. At stake the livelihoods of millions in both nations. A common purpose can unite folks across the globe and that was clearly on display today. But one couldn’t help read between the lines at the Chanakya Neethi that was being executed to precision ( any relationship can be exploited for mutual benefit). What I witnessed was this principle of Chanakya neethi being executed to perfection.
I had reluctantly signed on to get a free pass to the Howdy Mody event after my friend, Murali had urged me to go. I was not too inclined initially, for I had never attended a political rally before and was not sure if I should. It was just something I never did, don’t know why. Since the tickets were free I decided it was no harm getting them in case I changed my mind later.
I got an email confirmation after I signed up a couple of months back. There was. radio silence for a while before I started getting regular emails on the event from the organizers asking me if I planned to attend and if not to give up my ticket, as the event was sold out. In the past two weeks there were a flurry of emails about the event keeping me and thousands like me informed about how the event was coming together. Clearly there was a lot of planning and organization to put this event together, and a big shout out the organizers for a job well done. Except for the last mile into the stadium and the time it took to get out after the event the whole thing was planned and executed perfectly.
Even last week, I still had not decided whether to go or not. A few days ago it was announced that Potus was going to join the circus. Not being a great fan of Potus due to his various antics over the past years, I was in greater self doubt about attending this event. Should I or should I not go? I had begun to convince myself that I had to go see Modi’s speech for I was pretty impressed by what he had accomplished and the vision he had drawn up for India, my birth country. Would going to the event be a tacit endorsement for Potus whom like many others I did not have personal respect for, primarily because of the way he treated others. Not sure exactly when I decided, but I decided to take a leap of faith and go on and attend the event. In hindsight, I am thankful I attended in person for it was clearly remarkable to witness the two leaders on stage.
The wait at the stadium for the two performers to arrive was long. The cultural program on display kept us distracted while the stars made their way to the venue. The classical dances were splendid and the ensemble playing fusion music was superb. A bonus for me was hearing the Indian Raga dudes perform live for us. Having watched many a video of theirs on You Tube I was thrilled to see them perform on stage. Strangely though as it often happens on stage these days the Bhangra and the Bollywood dhamakas get the most applause even if they are substandard or just purely noisy.
The arrival of Modi was announced soon after the Mayor introduced the men from Washington and a Governor or two. The Mayors speech was soft and sweet. It was now the turn of the junior senator from Texas who had squeaked past Beto with support from East TX. Not my favorite by any means and someone whose rally I would probably have never attended. It was all going fine till the House majority leader showed up and drawled on for eternity. Luckily the beating of the drums and the arrival of Modi saved us in the crowd from being put to sleep.
But Potus hadn’t arrived so our wait continued. The crowd was getting restless as some of us had already waited for hours. I stepped out to grab a bite only to find that all the vendors had closed up as it was past lunch time. With my stomach growling I returned to my seat only to find someone still twirling around on stage. I checked the cricket scores on my phone and quickly scanned the TOI website to see a notification that Potus had arrived at the stadium. I was sitting at the stadium and had to go online to an Indian newspaper site to find out that Potus had arrived.
Things got exciting after that the drum rolls welcoming the fox (who knows many things) and the hedgehog (who knows one big thing). Of course that’s just my impressions of the two personalities and you may not agree. Maybe they are both foxes or hedgehogs, I will let you decide for yourselves.
Modi did a phenomenal job of introducing Potus praising him for everything that Potus has claimed to be himself . He seems to have done his homework well and evaluated the other’s interest in building a relationship. Clearly he enhanced the cause by his excellent delivery. Clearly this was strategized and executed to perfection.
The hedgehog then took the stage and delivered a stump speech that masterfully included language to further the relationship. It almost seems to have been scripted by the fox. Clearly the time must be ripe for the two democracies to find common ground and the speech writers from both nations seemed to be drinking from the same cup. A short speech that delivered key messages on trade, partnership, eliminating terrorism and friendship and highlighted that the Indian diaspora would benefit by reelecting Potus for another term, for their cause would be served.
Then the fox took the stage to a raucous welcome and delivered a speech that hit on several topics from cleanliness to development. His knowledge of the facts and his ability to convert crores into millions, something I still struggle with was immaculate. His punchline of course the elimination of article 370. The emphasis and ferocity with which the message was delivery in a foreign nation in front of the leaders of one of the most powerful nations in the world was simply brilliant. Not that the fox had not taken the world stage before. But what I saw unravel before me on Sunday was a world leader announcing his presence. Clearly he is going to be a force to contend with in the years to come and his conviction and simplicity are going to win him laurels and hopefully build an India that would equal what Chanakya built for Chandragup thousands of years ago. He may have his imperfections but clearly he is the best thing that’s happened to India since India gained her freedom. Whilst some might lament on all the things that are wrong with him and his coterie. I beg to differ. I see in him a shining light, a hope to move a country rich in resources, culture, diversity and people from a developing nation to a developed nation. Big dreams and good execution are required for rapid progress. His work ethic from his Shaka days and his focused efforts are necessary for the rising Tiger to mature into a powerful nation. I felt that history was made on Sunday and I played a minor role in it sitting in the audience.