LONDON–Asserting that diversity was India’s pride and strength, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hard sold brand India during his much-awaited address to the Indian diaspora here even as he urged industry captains to push India-Britain ties.
“India is full of diversity. This diversity is our pride and our strength,” Modi said as a frenzied crowd of 60,000 British Indians chanted “Modi, Modi” at the iconic Wembley Stadium here.
“Kabir and Rahim have been our inspirations. The Sufi tradition is the best antidote to terrorism,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Modi was hosted for lunch by Queen Elizabeth II.
“India has no reason to remain poor. I can say that after my experience during the last 18 months,” Modi, who started his Wembley speech in English and then turned to Hindi, said.
“Such a youthful nation like India cannot lag behind in development,” said Modi in his over an hour long speech.
He said the fact that the world’s confidence in India was increasing was proved by the fact that foreign direct investment into India has increased by 40 percent over the past year.
“It shows the increasing international confidence in India,” Modi said in the speech he delivered in Hindi.
“Two dreams that we are working towards — a clean India and India with 24/7 electricity,” he said.
Modi said that 18,000 villages in India that were not connected with electricity would get this basic facility within the next 1,000 days.
“The pace and direction of progress in India is such that the fruits of development will be seen very soon,” Modi said.
Modi said that by the year 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, he would ensure that there was 24 hours of electricity all over the country.
Much to the delight of the people of Gujarati origin sitting in the crowd, he announced the start of direct flights between London and Ahmedabad from December 15 this year.
Modi also thanked British Prime Minister David Cameron for the latter’s affection towards India and Indians.
“Whenever I meet the prime minister (Cameron), I find that he is very proud of the Indian community in UK,” he said.
Speaking ahead of Modi, Cameron sent the crowd into raptures by greeting them with “Namaste, Wembley” and said a time would soon come when there would be a British-Indian prime minister.
“It won’t be long before there is a British-Indian prime minister in 10, Downing Street,” Cameron said citing the contributions of British-Indians in various fields.
Britain is home to a 1.5 million-strong Indian diaspora, one of the largest in the world.
The British prime minister said that “India-UK ties are about people and about prosperity”.
He also backed India’s claim for permanent membership in the UN Security Council.
Adding to Modi’s pre-election Hindi slogan of “acche din aane wale hain”, Cameron said: “Acche din zaroor aayega” (Good days will definitely come).
A cultural extravaganza preceded Modi’s speech in which Indian pop and Hindi film playback singer Alisha Chinai belted out her evergreen “Made in India” number from the 1995 album of the same name. It was obviously in keeping with Modi’s “Make in India” initiative.
Apart from Alisha, British singer-rapper Jay Sean, Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, and Indian violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, as also the London Philharmonic Orchestra, were among those who enthralled the crowd.
Keeping with the spirit of Diwali, the night that was charged with electricity, ended with a dazzling display of fireworks over the world famous football stadium.
Earlier on Friday, Modi asked industry captains to contribute to India-Britain ties since the political will of the two countries was well established.
Addressing the UK-India CEOs Forum here, Modi said it was for industry captains to push bilateral ties with Britain as the political will of the two nations’ leadership was well established.
“India and the United Kingdom are economically made for each other. This relationship has to be driven by private sector CEOs now,” Modi said.
Cameron, who also addressed the meeting, echoed Modi and said: “We both have the political will to take our political relationship forward.”
On Friday, in a signal honour to India, Modi was hosted to a luncheon banquet by Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace here. Modi gifted the British monarch a set of photographs from her first visit to India in 1961, award-winning Darjeeling tea, quality honey from Jammu and Kashmir Tanchoi stoles that are a speciality of Varanasi.
The Indian prime minister started his second day of his three-day visit to Britain by continuing one-to-one bilateral discussions with Cameron at the Chequers, the countryside retreat of the British.