On Sunday, President Trump joined Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston at a community summit called “Howdy, Modi!” aimed at strengthening ties and advancing the strategic partnership between India and the United States.
Hosted at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, the event boasted more than 50,000 attendees, many of whom represented the city’s large Indian-American population.
The atmosphere at the event was one of camaraderie and excitement, as the world leaders publicly praised one another for their work in their respective countries.
“Prime Minister Modi and I have come to Houston to celebrate everything that unites America and India: our shared dreams and bright futures,” the President said.
Paying homage to the large Indian community in the city of Houston, the event featured traditional Indian dances performed to country music, showcasing the fusion of Texas and Indian cultures.
Prime Minister Modi began the discussion by praising President Trump as a great friend to India and someone he admired for “his sense of leadership” and “passion for America.”
President Trump echoed similar sentiments about Prime Minister Modi, lauding him as a world leader and describing him as “one of America’s greatest, most devoted, and most loyal friends.”
Among the topics discussed between the two world leaders were trade, energy, and the importance of cooperation based on shared democratic values.
In light of the upcoming presidential election in 2020, the President also took the opportunity to tout initiatives undertaken by his administration, such as tax reform, efforts on border security, and declining unemployment rates.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) and U.S. House Representative Pete Olson (R-TX-22) were also in attendance to represent the Lone Star State alongside both Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).
On Twitter, Sen. Cruz welcomed the Indian Prime Minister to his hometown, saying, “We are proud to be your friend.”
John Cornyn issued a similar Texas welcome to Prime Minister Modi via Twitter, describing India as a country with which the United States shares “common values of freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.”
“Howdy, Modi!” and President Trump’s visit came just days after the city of Houston and surrounding areas in southeast Texas experienced severe flooding and heavy rainfall as a result of Tropical Depression Imelda.
Reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the President issued a message of support to the crowd saying, “ My administration will not rest until you have fully recovered, restored, and rebuilt. And I know you will come back with the same tremendous spirit that we have shown every single time … It’s called ‘Houston Strong.’”
While the overall atmosphere of the event was welcoming, some protesters congregated outside the stadium in response to accusations of human rights abuses regarding the Prime Minister’s actions in the region of Kashmir, a semi-autonomous territory that has long been fought over by both India and Pakistan.
Critics of the Prime Minister argue that he has been complacent in the persecution of Muslims in Kashmir, as it remains a Muslim majority state amongst India’s otherwise majority Hindu population.
Elected Prime Minister in 2014, Modi recently received criticism for his decision to revoke special status from the region, a topic expected to be discussed at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week.
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Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.