Houston is all set to say Howdy, Modi!
Despite heavy rains bringing the American city to a standstill, organisers are upbeat about hosting Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s biggest-ever rally in the country.
Modi will address a crowd of over 50,000 Indian-Americans on Sept. 22 at the NRG Stadium, at an event hosted by Texas India (TI) Forum. Houston is home to over 1,30,000 Indian-Americans, as per some estimates.
The event will also be attended by US president Donald Trump, making it the first time ever that the two heads of the states would meet in the US outside of Washington DC or New York, where the United Nations is headquartered. “It will be a great opportunity to emphasise the strong ties between the people of the United States and India, to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies, and to discuss ways to deepen their energy and trade relationship,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said earlier this week.
Here are other reasons why Modi’s rally is turning out to be a blockbuster already:
What’s so special?
In September 2015, Modi had addressed a massive rally in San Jose, his second in the US, attended by 19,000 people. This time, the crowd is estimated to be more than double of that. Some estimates say that this is not only the largest-ever live audience for an Indian prime minister in North America, but also the largest for a foreign dignitary in the US, other than Pope Francis.
The possible reason to choose this venue is because of its trade relevance. Several ministers from Modi’s cabinet have hinted that stronger trade ties are among the top agendas of this trip. India is Houston’s fourth-largest trading partner, behind Brazil, China, and Mexico. Between 2009 and 2018, trade between Houston and India averaged $4.8 billion annually and was at $7.2 billion in 2018.
How to attend?
It’s a free event.
The event was completely sold out as of Aug. 21, when registrations hit 50,000. But university students continued to enrol for the event in the 72,000-capacity NRG stadium, till Aug. 29, as part of a special allotment.
What are the preparations like?
More than 1,000 volunteers and 650 community organisations have joined hands to make the event a success. As part of the promotions, Modi asked people to share photos of meeting him in the past. “Thousands of people logged in and shared their memories,” as per Modi’s website.
Who will attend?
Besides Trump, US House majority leader, Steny Hoyer is scheduled to deliver a speech at Howdy, Modi!. Indian origin congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, senator Ted Cruz, US representatives Al Green and Sheila Jackson along with Texas governor Greg Abbott will also attend the mega event.
What about the weather?
Tropical rainfall has wreaked havoc in Houston and at least two people have been reported dead. There are expectations of a thunderstorm on Sept. 22, according to AccuWeather.
How to watch from India?
The event starts at 8.30pm India time on Sept. 22. It will be telecasted live on Modi’s official YouTube channel and other social media platforms. Besides, television channels will also broadcast the event reaching over a billion people across the US and India.