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I recall my presence here...#India #PIO #NRI #GOPIO #Architecture #Bhoobalan #Archbhoo We need your #skill not your #money "Our eyes are not only on your money but on your hearts as well," Vajpayee 2003 @ Jacob K. Javits Center in downtown Manhattan
NEW YORK: If in any corner of the world there is a computer, you will find an Indian there. Harping on the image of the techno-savvy Indian that has helped the country earn a global reputation as an IT powerhouse, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told a 3,000 strong audience of Indian Americans that the country's strengths went beyond IT -- especially in the field of space technology.
"The Indian moon mission will be in place by 2008," he said to thunderous applause, repeating a promise he made during his Independence Day speech on August 15.
Vajpayee is here to address the 58th session of the U.N. General Assembly, on the sidelines of which he will be meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, who is expected to pressure him to send troops to post-war Iraq.
But Iraq seemed far from his mind as he faced a cheering crowd of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and people of Indian origin (PIO).
Vajpayee not only touched but virtually strummed responsive chords when he said in Hindi to the cheering audience at the sprawling Jacob Javits Center here: "Ours is a relationship of blood, tears, joy. And a relationship of those born of one mother... Never believe that you are alone -- a 100 crore (one billion) Indians are with you."
The prime minister, who occasionally deviated from the prepared text to make impromptu remarks, sought, as he did last year, to stress to his audience that India was not interested in NRIs solely for their money and potential investments.
"Our eyes are not only on your money but on your hearts as well," he said, once again eliciting a huge roar of appreciation.
Describing the Indian community in the U.S. as "envoys" of the motherland, Vajpayee exhorted them to help improve relations between India, their matrubhoomi (motherland), and the U.S., their karmabhoomi (their adopted land).
This was Vajpayee's first public engagement since arriving here Friday for an eight-day visit during which he will also hold key bilateral meetings.
Anticipation was high at the event organized by Bhishma Agnihotri, ambassador-at-large for NRIs and PIO, as well as some 134 Indian-American organizations --- 34 of which presented the prime minister with a plaque inscribed with a 'Charter of Solidarity and Commitment' to help India become a developed country by 2020.
And Vajpayee did not disappoint. Interrupted by shouts of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai," he lauded Indian Americans for their success, naming as examples such illustrious expatriate Indians as S. Chandrasekhar, Jagdish Bhagwati, Hargobind Khurana, Zubin Mehta and astronaut Kalpana Chawla, a new Indian-American icon whose name evoked a huge cheer from the audience.
He then enumerated India's economic and technological successes, again receiving sustained ovations when he repeated his Independence Day speech promise of sending an Indian mission to the moon by 2008. And also when he said that in any corner of the world that has computer, you would find an Indian!
Touching on cross-border terrorism, a subject that evokes strong feeling here, he said that the global fraternity would do well to remember that the roots of terrorism could be traced to countries other than Afghanistan --- a not-so-oblique reference to Pakistan. This too evoked loud cheers.
The event, according to those familiar with the activities of Indian-American organizations, was unprecedented. Never before, said one observer, had 134 such organisations come together on one platform.
"The credit," he said, "must surely go Ambassador-at-Large Agnihotri," who had apparently been working hard for some six months now to get as many organizations on board.
The event, which began with a choreographed "welcome" to the prime minister by 12 second generation Indian-American boys, also featured the rendering to music of one of Vajpayee's poems --- 'Kadam Mila Ke Chalna Hoga --- by an Indian-American group.
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#Pio mi amor ♥
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Taking a bath like a boss! #pio
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