Why Narendra Modi’s San Jose speech sounded like the one at Madison Square Garden

The showman.
The showman.
Image: Reuters/Stephen Lam
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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi seemingly has a formula for his blockbuster diaspora events worldwide.

It typically involves a massive arena, much Bollywood fanfare, some celebrity hosts, local politicians—and a finely delivered Hindi speech by the Indian prime minister.

Modi didn’t disappoint at San Jose’s SAP Center on Sept. 27, as thousands in the audience cheered, clapped and chanted their way through the over two-hour long event.

But to those who had listened to Modi’s speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden (MSG) last year, the SAP Center address may have seemed a little familiar. In fact, there were quite a few repetitions.

Here are a few excerpts from both his speeches, which were repeated in New York and San Jose, albeit packaged differently.

Bank accounts – Jan Dhan Yojana

MSG: In two weeks of launching the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, we had four crore new accounts added to the economy. Bank officers were visiting homes of prospective account holders to assist them. Even though we said you could open a zero balance account, my people were generous enough to deposit Rs1,500 crore in these accounts.

SAP Center: We decided that in 100 days, we will open accounts for everyone. You will wonder why? But 18 crore new bank accounts have been opened. The poorest of poor have an account now. They didn’t have money to deposit, so we allowed zero balance. Banks were upset because of this, but I told them that we have enjoyed a lot for 40 years, now we need to sweat. We allowed zero balance in these accounts, but I saw the richness of the poor. Poor people put Rs50, Rs100, Rs200 and Rs32,000 crore was deposited to the banks.

India in the 21st century

MSG: Everyone is convinced that the 21st century belongs to Asia. Even politicians in America have said publicly that the century belongs to Asia—some say Asia, some say India.

SAP Center: Since the last 20-25 years, there has been a discussion on who will the 21st century belong to? People often said that 21st century belonged to Asia, but now people are saying that it is India’s.

India’s Mars Mission

MSG: India is the first nation to have reached Mars in its first attempt. In Ahmedabad, if you hire an auto rickshaw, it will cost you Rs10 per kilometer, but we travelled 650 million kilometre (to Mars) at Rs7 per kilometre. India has got such a great talent. 

SAP Center: The success of our Mars mission—India is the only country in the world that succeeded in the first attempt. Others tried several times and then succeeded. People used to say we are such a poor country, why do you want to waste money to go on planets? But today, that (technology) is helping us, farmers get weather updates and fishermen get updates on where to go fishing.

India’s young population

MSG: What can a country, 65% of whose population is younger than 35 years, not achieve? A country which has youth who have the power of connecting with the world through a computer, that country does not need to look back.

SAP Center: I believe the country will go forward. And that is because my country is young. A country with 65% of its population younger than 35 years, what can such a country not achieve?


MSG: If we talk about good governance, then the governance should be least, effective and it should be for the fulfilment of the hopes and ambitions of the common man. We are stressing on that.

SAP Center: When I came to Delhi, I told people that the world has changed, and we should move towards e-governance—It is effective governance, easy governance and most economical governance.

Bhagat Singh

MSG: You look at the Sikh tradition and take the names of the leaders one after another, look at how much they sacrificed. Till Bhagat Singh, look at the tradition. Even today at the border, our Sikh Sardars are ready to sacrifice their lives for the country.

SAP Center: Today is Sept. 27, and in India, it is Sept. 28. Sept. 28 is the birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh. I salute to him. I will say “Vir Bhagat Singh” and you raise your hands and say “amar rahe, amar rahe” (Stay immortal).

India’s IT boom

MSG: Our ancestors used to play with snakes. But now we play with mouse. And our youngsters, move the mouse and make the world dance to their tunes.

SAP Center: Your fingers created magic on the keyboard and the computer and this gave India a new identity. Your skill and commitment is wonderful.