New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was to be the first elected American official to meet with India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was to arrive in the United States September 26 afternoon to attend the United
Nations General Assembly sessions in the Big Apple.
After two-and-a-half days in New York, Modi was to
fly down to Washington, DC, for his summit with
President Barack Obama at the White House.
After India’s Ambassador to the US Dr S Jaishankar
and India’s Ambassador to the United Nations Asoke
Mukerji receive Modi at the John F Kennedy
International Airport, and he is whisked away by
motorcade to the New York Palace Hotel in
Manhattan, Blasio was to pay a welcoming courtesy
call on him.
That evening, Nobel Laureate Harold Eliot Varmus,
director, National Cancer Institute, who won the
Nobel Prize for Medicine along with J Michael Bishop
in 1989 for their discovery of the cellular origin of retrovi-ral oncogenes, was to call on the Indian prime minister.
September 27 morning, Modi was to visit Ground Zero
and the 9/11 Memorial Museum recently opened to honor
the victims of the worst terrorist attacks in the history of
the United States.
He was to then proceed to the United Nations to deliver
his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly.
After that he was to engage in bilateral meetings,
including with Sri Lankan President Mahinda
Rajapakse, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
and possibly Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, but was unlikely to meet with Pakistani
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
In the afternoon, former New York mayor Michael
Bloomberg was to call on him at his hotel suite. Discussions
were likely to focus on one of the billionaire Bloomberg’s
pet project of ‘smart cities,’ which Modi is very much inter-
ested in and wants to replicate in India.
The prime minister was to then proceed around 6 pm to
the Great Lawn in Central Park to participate in the Global
Citizen Festival, where was to will speak along with several
other heads of state. A star-studded line up of musicians
and celebrity hosts would also be there, including Hugh
Jackman, Jessica Alba, Jay Z, No Doubt, Carrie
Underwood, The Roots, and Tiesto. The event was to call
for accelerated progress in poverty alleviation, health care,
and sanitation for millions around the world.
Modi, who was slated to speak for a few minutes, appar-
ently had wanted very much to be at this event because a
lot of the themes being propounded at the Global Citizen
Festival were close to his heart and in sync with his own
After returning to his hotel, Prime Minister Modi
was to meet with a group of prominent Indian
Americans — many of whom have been his ardent
supporters over the years — led by his close friend Dr
Bharat Barai, the point man behind the Madison
Square Garden community reception in his honor the
September 28 morning, the first woman Governor of
South Carolina, Nimrata ‘Nikki’ Randhawa Haley, was
to call on Prime Minister Modi and once again the discussion was to center around Indian investments in
South Carolina and reciprocal ventures in India.
No meeting had been scheduled with the first
Indian-American Governor, Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal of
Louisiana, who has indicated an interest to run for
President in 2016, who apparently had shown no
enthusiasm or inclination — like Haley did — to
meet with Modi.
The prime minister was to then make his way to Madison
Square Garden for the community extravaganza in his
honor where he was expected to address about 18,000 people from across the country for nearly an hour. His speech
was also to be beamed at Times Square and Web cast
around the world.
At 6 pm September 28, Prime Minister Modi was to
attend a community reception and dinner hosted in his
honor at the Taj-owned The Pierre hotel by Ambassador
Jaishankar for more than 300 guests, including several US
lawmakers, including the only serving Indian American in
the US Congress Dr Amerish ‘Ami’ Bera, and Tulsi
Gabbard, the first and only Hindu American in the US
House of Representatives.
TORU HANAI/REU TERS
Modi means business
Never has an Indian prime minister’s United States visit been so industry-oriented, reports Aziz Haniffa