Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the gathering of Indian-American at the iconic Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan on Sunday.
PM Modi will address the community at a packed Madison Square Garden, while speaking from a 360-degree rotating platform, and those in attendance would include over 16,000 general public and about 2,600 VIP guests including a Governor, Senators and other elected officials in the US.
Releasing the list of confirmed participation, the organisers Indian American Community Foundation (IACF) said this would include South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the first woman and second Indian-American governor in the US. The three confirmed Senators are Robert Menendez, also Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee of US Senate, Joe Donnelly and Cory Booker.
There would be 42 House of Representative members including Steny Hoyer, Democratic whip in the House, Frank Pallone, founder of the House India Caucus and Eliot Engel, Ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The list also includes Ami Bera, the first Gujarati American in the US Congress and Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu in the US Congress.
Other Congress members who have confirmed presence are Nita Lowey, Jim McDermott,Jerrold Nadler, Sanford Bishop, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Royce, Chaka Fattah, Pete Sessions, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joe Crowley, Gregory Meeks, Steve Israel and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The list includes elected officials from both Democratic and Republican parties.
The organisers said that the invitations were sent to all the elected officials of the US for the event, but all of them, including Indian-origin Bobby Jindal may not be able to come due to the intense election season currently underway in the country.
Besides the main venue, there would be at least 50 other locations across the country where special arrangements have been made for the live telecast of the Prime Minister’s speech and other events that include a nearly two-hour long entertainment programme.
There is a tremendous interest in the community in the US-India relationship and the event at Madison Square Garden has been oversubscribed by more than 10,000 people. At 16.4 per cent, Indian-Americans are the third largest Asian-American group in the US, numbering 2.8 million strong, which is almost 1 per cent of the US population.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi started the second day of his US visit by paying homage to the victims of the dastardly 9/11 terror attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people, including many Indians.
Modi, dressed in impeccable white kurta-payjama and wearing a grey stole, visited the memorial and the museum early this morning.A sombre looking Modi placed yellow rose buds on the memorial at ‘ground zero’ and folded his hands.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by India’s Ambassador to the US S Jaishankar and other officials
Modi’s visit to the memorial of the 2001 terror attack by al-Qaeda, when they crashed two hijacked passenger jets into the iconic World Trade Centre, is seen as a significant gesture of support by India to the war on terror.
The 9/11 Memorial was inaugurated by President Barack Obama earlier this year in May.
Followed by the visit to the memorial, Modi visited the museum that displays artifacts associated with the events of 9/11, while presenting stories of loss and recovery.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum commemorates the September 11 attacks which killed 2,977 people, including over 40 Indians, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed six.
Names of nine Indian victims are inscribed on the panels of the 9/11 memorial — Ganesh K Ladkat, Anil Shivhari Umarkar, Sushil S Solanki, Alok Kumar Mehta, Shekhar Kumar, Alok Agarwal, Jayesh Shantilal Shah, Yudhvir S Jain and Hashmukh C Parmar.
The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, on the former location of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed during the attacks.
The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation was renamed the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center in 2007.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum opened in May for the 9/11 community — survivors, families, rescuers. Shortly after it opened to the general public.
The Museum’s 110,000 square feet of exhibition space is located within the archaeological heart of the World Trade Center site, telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj raised the issue of early reform of the UN Security Council during her meetings with counterparts from China and the IBSA and G4 blocs, saying that concerted efforts should be made to complete the reform process by 2015, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.
Swaraj held back-to-back meetings on the second day of her visit to New York, holding bilateral talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Brazilian Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Figueiredo Machado and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
She participated in multilateral meetings with the foreign ministers ofBrazil, Germany and Japanin the G4 bloc, Commonwealth foreign ministers, SAARC, IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), BRICS and Latin American countries in the CELAC quartet.
The G4 bloc wants the “full support” of the African continent, Swaraj said adding that South African Foreign Minister Maite Emily Nkoana-Mashabaneassured her that Africa will support India along with the G4 in their bid to reform the 15-nation Security Council.
“Unless we get the support of the African continent, the reforms cannot move forward,” Swaraj told Indian reporters after her meeting with IBSA ministers.
She termed her meeting with her IBSA counterparts as a “big supplementary” one that took forward the agenda of the G4 meeting which was to seek reform and expansion of the UN Security Council.
Swaraj said that in all her meetings, apart from discussing bilateral issues, she stressed that reforms of the UN body should happen by 2015, which will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the UN.
“Time is less. Since 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the UN, this milestone decision of reforming the UNSC should be done by next year,” she said.
She said she had good meetings with the G4 bloc and the South African Minister.
She also raised the UNSC reform issue with China.
Swaraj termed as “successful” her meetings over the last two days particularly in the direction of the UNSC reforms process.
She added that having so many bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the UN session is an “accomplishment”.
After the IBSA meeting, Swaraj gifted her South African counterpart a hand-painted portrait of the nation’s former President Nelson Mandela.
On the first day of her US tour,Swaraj had met her with her counterparts from UK, Sudan, the Maldives, Norway, Kyrgyzstan, Greece and Nigeria in back-to-back meetings.
During the meetings, Swaraj invited the countries to invest in the ambitious projects and proposals unveiled by the new Indian government.
The countries expressed support for New Delhi’s permanent membership in a reformed UN Security Council.
Swaraj’s counterparts also conveyed their congratulations to the new Indian government for the victory in the general election.
Expressing her gratitude, Swaraj invited them to participate in the government’s ambitious projects and proposals through their investments in the Indian economy.
There was strong support expressed during these meetings for India’s permanent membership in a reformed UN Security Council.
The leaders had also discussed other topical issues before the UN at the ongoing 69th session of the General Assembly.
Swaraj is scheduled to meet nearly 100 foreign ministers during her visit to the US and will join the delegation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will reach New York on Friday.
Before Modi reaches New York, Swaraj would participate in a bilateral meeting with Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry and also in a ministerial level meeting of the Committee on Palestine.
Pakistan spoiled the talks by talking to Hurriyat: Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said Pakistan spoiled the talks by talking to Hurriyat leaders just ahead of Foreign Secretaries of the two nations were scheduled to meet in Islamabad last month.
“New (Narendra Modi) government has given a new signal. So they (Pakistan) spoiled the talks, they spoiled the game,” Swaraj told Indian reporters in New York after her meeting with the IBSA Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session.
Swaraj was asked to comment on Pakistan’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz’s remarks that talks between the two countries can happen only if New Delhi takes the initiative since India was the one which cancelled the August 25 talks.
Swaraj said: “No question of first or second. As far as our reaction is concerned we have said repeatedly that if a reaction had to come it had to come at this time only. The initiative was there from our side.”
She said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony.
During the bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers it was discussed that trade should start immediately at the Wagah-Attari border, said Swaraj. She said Sharif had suggested that foreign secretaries should meet for bilateral talks and “we agreed to that.” “But just as the talks are about to happen on the 25th (August), four days prior to that the (Pakistani envoy) is talking with Hurriyat leaders, then who spoiled the game,” she asked.
Aziz had also remarked that there was nothing new in Pakistani officials talking to Hurriyat leaders and such talks have been happening for the last 20 years.
Swaraj said as far as talks with Hurriyat leaders are concerned, the leaders who came from Pakistan used to talk with the group.
But “for the first time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to India and he did not talk to them because he understood India’s signal.
Things began from there,” she said. “But before any talks, the ambassador has met with the Hurriyat leaders, that has never happened,” Swaraj said.
Swaraj said she has not talked to Aziz yet but the two were present for the Commonwealth and SAARC Foreign Ministers’ meetings on Thursday.
Swaraj had last met Aziz on September 12 at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Dushanbe where the two had exchanged pleasantries during a break at the summit.
“When you are sitting at the same dinner table you have some civilities. We exchanged pleasantries” she said of her meeting in the Tajik capital.
Ahead of participating in the SAARC meeting, Aziz told a group of Indian reporters that an India-Pakistan talks can happen only if New Delhi takes the initiative. He said there is no possibility of a meeting between Modi and Sharif.
On a very youthful platform of a rock concert, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invoked “can do” attitude of youth to change India and the world while addressing a thousands-strong crowd which gathered for “Global Citizen Festival” in Central Park in New York.
After a seven-minute speech in English, Modi also read out a Sanskrit scripture calling for “peace in the world” and greeted the largely American crowd with a “Namaste” amid cheers and claps.
Amid performances by various singers, Modi was introduced to the crowd by actor Hugh Jackman as someone who started as a “tea salesman” and went on to become Chief Minister of Gujarat and then Prime Minister of India with a huge mandate. Addressing the crowd, Modi also sent his “Namaste” to those watching the concert on “TVs, laptops, tablets and phones”. Modi said he was delighted to be among the youth in an open park and not inside a closed conference room.
“Because you are the future. What you do today, will decide our tomorrow. I feel a current of hope in this park. Among you, I feel confident about the future,” he said.
Hailing the Global Citizen movement to end poverty and provide education and basic sanitation to all, Modi said, “Some believe that the world changes with the wisdom of the old. I think that the idealism, innovation, energy and ‘can do’ attitude of the youth is even more powerful.”
“That is my hope for India too (for) 800 million youth joining hands to transform our nation,” he added. Modi said he decided to come to the festival to extend his support and to express his belief that youth of India can join them in this global effort.
Rebuffing Pakistan for raising the Kashmir issue at the UN, PM Narendra Modi has asserted that he was prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with it without the shadow of terrorism but asked it to create an appropriate environment for that.
Without making a direct reference to the strident speech of his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York on Friday in which he had insisted on a plebiscite in Kashmir, Modi made it clear that “raising issues in this forum is not the way to make progress towards resolving issues between our two countries”.
In his maiden address to the 193-member UN General Assembly on Saturday, the Indian leader underlined that his government placed the highest priority on advancing friendship and cooperation with its neighbours, including Pakistan.
Speaking in Hindi, Modi said, “I am prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in a peaceful atmosphere, without the shadow of terrorism, to promote our friendship and cooperation.
“However, Pakistan must also take its responsibility seriously to create an appropriate environment,” he told the Assembly.
Modi’s 35-minute address covered a number of subjects such as terrorism, including its resurgence in West Asia, reforms of the United Nations, including the Security Council, and the need for a more inclusive global development.
Talking about India’s neighbourhood, the Prime Minister said that India desired a peaceful and stable environment for its development.
“A nation’s destiny is linked to its neighbourhood. That is why my government has placed the highest priority on advancing friendship and cooperation with her neighbours.”
He told Pakistan that instead of raising issues at the UN, “today we should be thinking about the victims of floods in Jammu and Kashmir. In India, we have organised massive flood relief operations and have also offered assistance for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir”.
“India is part of the developing world, but we are prepared to share our modest resources with those countries that need this assistance as much as we do,” he said.
Describing the present as “a time of great flux and change”, Modi said the world was witnessing tensions and turmoil on a scale rarely seen in recent history.
Although there were no major wars “there is absence of real peace and uncertainty about the future”.
He referred to the Asia-Pacific region and said that it was “still concerned about maritime security that is fundamental to its future.”
While “extremism and fault lines” were growing in West Asia, Modi said, “our own region continues to face the destabilising threat of terrorism”.
Modi told the General Assembly that terrorism was taking “new shape and new name” and no country, big or small was free from its threat.
He went on to ask, “are we really making concerted international efforts to fight these forces, or are we still hobbled by our politics, our division, our discrimination between two countries, distinction between good and bad terrorists?”
Without naming Pakistan, the Prime Minister said even today “states allow terrorist sanctuaries on their territory or use terrorism as instruments of their policy”.
In an apparent reference to the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria, where a US-led coalition is attacking the Islamic State (IS) militants, he said that India welcomed efforts to combat terrorism’s resurgence in West Asia which was affecting countries near and far.
He pointedly emphasised, “this effort should involve the support of all countries in the region”.
Pressing for a concerted international effort to combat terrorism and extremism, the Indian leader urged the world body to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Calling for reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council, whose membership India is aspiring for, Modi said the world body should be more democratic and participative.
“Institutions that reflect the imperatives of the 20th century won’t be effective in the 21st. It would face the risk of irrelevance and we will face the risk of continuing turbulence with no one capable of addressing it,” he said.
Prime Minister during his 35-minute speech at the UN General Assembly had urged world leaders to adopt an International Yoga Day.
PM Modi also reiterated his commitment to make SAARC a strong regional block. Before his UN speech, Modi met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and discussed issues like imminent reforms in the UNSC and the need to involve countries contributing peace troops in the decision-making process of the multilateral institution.
PM Modi made a strong pitch before Ban for the UNSC reforms before its 70th anniversary next year, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters while briefing about the Prime Minister’s meetings.
During bilateral meetings, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala congratulated Modi on his first UN speech and promised full support for his initiative of having an International Yoga Day.
Within hours of it being mooted, Rajapaksa gave his support in writing to the initiative which would need to be ratified by the UN General Assembly by September 2015 for coming into effect. The three leaders also said that they were looking forward to Modi’s visit to their respective countries, including for the SAARC summit in Nepal later this year.
PM Modi told Koirala that he was looking forward to visit Nepal and said he would like to go to Janakpur and Lumbini, the birthplaces of Sita and Lord Buddha, respectively.
The Prime Minister also enquired about the status of bilateral projects he had announced during his Nepal trip. Akbaruddin said that Modi in his meetings with the three neighbouring leaders discussed various other issues of common concerns for SAARC block and reiterated his commitment to ‘neighbours first’ policy
Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalitha was on Saturday sentenced to four years in jail in an 18-year-old corruption case and fined a staggering Rs 100 crore by a special court whose verdict unseats her from the post and could send her to political exile for 10 years.
The first conviction of a sitting Chief Minister in a corruption case, which has triggered speculation as to whom she chooses to succeed her, comes as a massive blow to Jayalalithaa who had won nearly two-thirds majority in the assembly elections in 2011 and which are due in 18 months.
The names of senior minister O Panneerselvam, who had taken over as Chief Minister in 2001 after she was unseated and till her return, Transport Minister V Senthil Balaji and Electricity Minister R Viswanathan and even former Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishna are doing the rounds as the possible successors.
Along with the 66-year-old AIADMK supremo, three others–Jayalalithaa’s close friend Sasikala, Sasikala’s niece Ilavarasi and her nephew and Chief Minister’s disowned foster son Sudhakaran –were convicted and sentenced to four years of jail term and fined Rs 10 crore by special judge John Michael D’Cunha.
They have been convicted on the charges of amassing properties disproportionate to their known sources of income under the Prevention of Corruption Act and criminal conspiracy in the Indian Penal Code.
Since they have been sentenced to a term of more than three years, they have been lodged in the Central Jail in Parappana Agrahara.
They can apply for bail only from Karnataka High Court which is on vacation till 6th October for Dasara.
The Rs 100 crore fine is the highest imposed on any politician by the special judge who heard the case of Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets acquired during her first term as Chief Minister between 1991 and 1996.
The conviction in the high-security court complex of Parappana Agrahara near Bangalore came amidst dramatic scenes outside where AIADMK supporters burnt effigies of DMK leader Karunanidhi and Subramaniam Swamy who had initially raked up the case.
The conviction also evoked sporadic violence in Tamil Nadu where public vehicles were attacked and shops closed.
The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption had filed a charge sheet in the case which was transferred to the court here in 2003.
Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh said a sum of Rs 10 crore has been imposed on the other three convicts.
He said the four can apply for bail by moving an criminal application before the High Court.
Under a Supreme Court judgment of July last year, any MP or MLA who is convicted of a crime with more than two-years sentence will be disqualified as an elected representative from the date of conviction.
Unless the conviction is stayed or overturned by a superior court, she will be disqualified under the Representation of the People Act from contesting elections for a period of 10 years–four years from the date of conviction and six years thereafter.
Ever since the Supreme Court judgment, former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Union Health Minister Rasheed Masood and RJD leader Jagdish Sharma lost their membership of Parliament following conviction in corruption cases.
Jayalalithaa has had the dubious distinction of having to resign in 2001 following a Supreme Court judgment that nullified her appointment in view of her conviction in TANSI land deal case.
Saturday’s verdict has come as a jolt to the ruling AIADMK as it had been enjoying a winning spree in all the elections held since April 2011, when the party trounced DMK.
The party had put up a stellar performance in the Lok Sabha polls this year, winning 37 of the 39 states in the state, though its hopes of a pivot role in the Centre failed with the BJP mustering majority on its own.
However, there is no threat to the party government as AIADMK has a solid majority of 150 seats in the 234-member Assembly.
She had been acquitted in several other cases filed during the DMK regime
Centre asks TN govt to ensure law and order
The Centre on Saturday night asked the Tamil Nadu government to ensure law and order in the wake of reports of sporadic violence in the state after Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was convicted in a disproportionate asset case.
“The Home Ministry has issued an advisory to the Tamil Nadu government asking it to maintain law and order. The Home Ministry has offered full support to the state government to deal with any situation arising after the Chief Minister’s conviction,” a Home Ministry official said on Saturday night.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister was on Saturday convicted by a Bangalore court and sentenced to four years jail in an 18-year-old corruption case.
Her conviction led to sporadic violence in Tamil Nadu where public vehicles were attacked and shops closed.