It was a spectacle, for sure.
An adoring crowd of nearly 20,000 applauded and cheered almost unceasingly on cue—and laughed at every punchline, no matter how old (heard the one about the snake charmers and mice?). Indian prime minister Narendra Modi transformed a typically staid state visit into a stage show (lights, camera, and lots of Bollywood-inspired action) at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
There was even a portrait of Modi painted in real time, to the tune of Indian classical music. Modi spoke from a rotating podium in a venue better known for hosting rock concerts, athletes, and the occasional circus. Like them, today’s event was crafted for impact—and it didn’t entirely disappoint.
In a nearly 90-minute long speech that began with highlighting programs and reforms that he and his government have previously outlined, Modi saved the best for last—a promise to streamline the visa process for non-resident Indians, the overwhelming majority of his audience. (Although many of the initiatives had been previously announced and had been slated to take effect this year.)
Despite a crowd of protesters outside, it’s undeniably been a good week for India, including a successful Mars mission, a new Make in India campaign, and a maiden speech at the United Nations.
The show goes on. The next guy to win over: President Obama.