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Howdy, Modi - tremendous display of bigger ideas, visionary leadership: top US diplomat

Houston: The 'Howdy, Modi' mega event in Houston jointly addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump was a tremendous display of bigger ideas and visionary leadership to further accelerate the Indo-US strategic partnership, a top American diplomat has said.

In a grand show of friendship and common vision, Prime Minister Modi and President Trump shared the stage at the "Howdy Modi!" gala event at the NRG stadium here and addressed a record crowd of 50,000 Indian-Americans.

"Howdy, Modi was a tremendous display of big crowds, bigger ideas, and visionary leadership," Alice G Wells, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, tweeted. "Together Trump and Modi are delivering on their shared commitment to accelerate the upward trajectory of the US-India strategic partnership," she said.

"The strength of the Indian diaspora community in the United States in unparalleled and loud enough that I can almost hear the cheering from here at UN General Assembly in New York," Wells said.

Several other top American lawmakers also praised Modi for his 'Howdy, Modi' address.

"What a crowd at the 'Howdy, Modi' event! Honoured to be a part of such a tremendous gathering representing the people of Texas," Congressman Pete Olson said.

"Thanks to Prime Minister Modi for coming to Houston along with President Trump for the 'Howdy, Modi' extravaganza, with a crowd of more than 50,000 enthusiastic fans in attendance," said Texas Senator John Cornyn.

Observing that India is one of the most important friends and partners of the US, Cornyn said the two countries share common values of freedom, democracy, and free enterprise, and will always look for new opportunities to deepen our relationship.

"Couldn't be more honoured to welcome Modi to Houston," he said.

"India is largest democracy on the face of earth and America is proud to be your friend," junior Senator for Texas Ted Cruz said.

Hailing the impressive show of unity between India and the US at the event, former Indian-American US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that the "great" partnership between the two countries has only strengthened.

Haley, who was the first-ever Indian-American to have served any presidential Cabinet, also re-tweeted Trump's tweet, "The USA loves India!"

Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), said the joint address by Prime Minister Modi and President Trump was a triumphant moment for the Indo-US relationship.

"The summit not only showed our leaders' camaraderie with each other, but also their commitment towards the US-India partnership and why the two countries continue to be natural allies," he said.

Trump touched upon every area of bilateral cooperation -- from a strong defence partnership to fighting global terrorism, a growing energy trade and energy security, advanced clean energy technologies, and also some of the forward-looking aspects such as joint space cooperation, he said, referring to the US president's speech at the event.

The American corporate sector, he said, is looking forward to some tangible outcomes from the bilateral meeting in New York, where the two leaders will discuss the trade ties that have seen an upward trajectory in the last decade.

Eminent venture capitalist and philanthropist M R Rangaswami, the founder of Indiaspora, a group that tries to organise Indian Americans, told The New York Times that events like 'Howdy, Modi!' help the community become more relevant in the US.

Trump's appearance at the event was an opportunity to increase his 14 per cent showing among Indian Americans in 2016, he added.

Indian American attorney from New York Ravi Batra said precedents were broken and protocol-embedded wisdom discarded in Houston when Modi introduced Trump at the event.

"Such warmth, usually between brothers or best friends, can displace protocol for something better: a knowing and obvious joint destiny," he said.

"To the feint-hearted or mischievous, they need to proceed with caution during the 21st century, because Houston became the venue when history was reset and India -- that Columbus set out to find -- and America, that Columbus discovered, joined as long lost family with a passionate warmth that exceeds the limits of sovereignty," Batra added.

Describing the joint appearance of Modi and Trump at the event as a "spectacle in Houston", The Wall Street Journal said Trump is hoping to pick up a larger share of this growing voters bloc in 2020 than he did in 2016. Trump understands the benefit of associating with Indian Americans, whose contributions are crucial to the prosperity of both nations in the 21st century, it added.

The New York Times said the rally brought together two leaders with similar styles.

"Both rose to power by embracing right-wing populism, portraying themselves as champions of the masses fighting against an entrenched establishment," it said.

Both presented voters with a vision to make their respective countries "great again", and both have fanned tensions along religious, economic and social fault lines, the NYT said.

According to the Washington Post, the leaders of the world's two largest democracies took the stage together in Houston before a roaring crowd of tens of thousands of Indian-Americans, where Modi delivered an unmistakable endorsement of Trump's presidency and cast their joint appearance in historic terms.

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