Remarks by the Vice President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at a State Luncheon
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you very much. Please have a seat. Thank you. Thank you, thank you.
Mr. Secretary, Madam Ryan, thank you for hosting us here yet again. It is the honor of Doug and mine to be with you, honoring the friendship and the importance of the relationship between India and the United States.
Prime Minister Modi, we are honored to welcome you.
We also welcome the members of the President's Cabinet who are here and all of the members of Congress who are here, including Speaker Emerita Pelosi, Chairman McCaul, and Ranking Member Meeks. (Applause.)
And welcome to all of our distinguished guests.
As I look around this room, I am struck by the extraordinary impact Indian Americans have had on our country in every facet of life.
Take, for example, the historic number of members of the United States Congress with Indian heritage: Representatives Ami Bera -- if you're here, please stand -- (applause) -- Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Shri Thanedar. And they're known as the "Samosa Caucus," for those of you who did not know. (Laughter.)
And around our country, we see the impact of Indian Americans, from the C suites of American companies to neighborhood businesses, from the studios of Hollywood to university research labs across our country.
So, as many of you know, India is a very important part of my life. When my sister Maya and I were growing up, our mother would take us from the Bay Area to India pretty much every other year. And the purpose of those trips were many, including that we would well understand where she came from, what produced her; so that we could spend time with our grandparents, with my uncle and our chittis; and to really understand the love of good idli. (Laughter.)
And we traveled to visit my grandparents in what was then called Madras. And I will tell you, my grandfather was one of the most favorite people in my life, truly. We were pen pals, in fact, throughout my childhood.
And I was the eldest grandchild. And so, as I'm sure many of you know, culturally, to be the eldest has a certain significance. And so, I took full advantage of that status in our family. (Laughter.) And my grandfather, of course, convinced me -- as he did, I think, every one of his grandchildren -- that we were his favorite. (Laughter.)
Yet, on those visits, I was the only member of our family that my grandfather allowed to join him for his morning routine. You see, by the time that we were going there as children, my grandfather was retired from his career as a civil servant. And his morning routine, every morning, consisted of taking long walks on the beach with his retired buddies. And they, as retired civil servants, would debate the issues of the day.
So, I would hold my grandfather's hand on these walks and listen intently to him and his friends. And I will tell you, as a young girl, I don't think I fully appreciated the essence and the import of the debates that they would have. But I did clearly understand and do recall stories about the freedom fighters and the nation's founding heroes and about the independence of India. I remember them talking about the importance of fighting corruption and fighting for equality, regardless of one's belief or caste.
Throughout these walks, I recall my grandfather teaching me lessons about not just what it means to have a democracy but to keep a democracy.
And I do believe it is these lessons that I learned at a very young age that first inspired my interest in public service. And I look back now and I do fully realize how much these conversations influenced me and my thinking, and how they have guided me ever since.
In fact, it is a large part of who I am today -- these lessons I learned from my grandfather, P.V. Gopalan, and from the dedication, determination, and courage of his daughter, my mother, Shyamala. And it is that being the reason that I stand before you today as vice president of the United States. (Applause.)
The history and teachings in India and of India have not only influenced me, they, of course, have shaped the entire globe, as Secretary Blinken just described.
Throughout history, India has inspired millions of people around the world, whether through philosophy and theology, the power of civil disobedience, or the commitment to democracy.
Indeed, as I travel the world as vice president, I have seen India's global impact firsthand. In Southeast Asia, Indian-made vaccines have saved lives and livelihoods. On the continent of Africa, India's longstanding partnerships support prosperity and security. And throughout the Indo-Pacific, India helps promote a free and open region.
I also know of India's extraordinary impact with regard to innovation, medicine, and science. I know this as a daughter of California. I know this as a former district attorney, attorney general, and senator who has worked on technology with leaders in Silicon Valley. And I know this, of course, as a daughter of a scientist.
My mother, at the age of 19, arrived in the United States by herself as part of the first wave of Indian students to travel here. She chose UC Berkeley because it was known as being one of the best universities in the world. And growing up, I remember my mother -- our mother spending day and night and weekends in the lab.
She always asked the big questions and searched for the answers that would be a clue to improving the condition of life. She understood what was possible, unburdened by what has been.
And since then, I think about it in the context of the work she did and her studies that have led to advances in breast cancer research. And I think about it in the context of the millions of Indian students who have come to the United States since to collaborate with American researchers, to solve the challenges of our time, and to reach new frontiers.
Indian innovators have made great strides in engineering and computer programming. They've sent a mission to Mars. And they have launched and led technology companies that are global leaders in the areas of autonomous vehicles, robotics, cybersecurity, climate data, and digital finance -- all of which can serve to improve the human condition and uplift the people.
The point here being: India's global engagement has not only been to the benefit of the people of India but also to the benefit of the people of the United States and people around the world.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your role of leadership to help India emerge as a global power in the 21st century. You have helped to reinvigorate the Quad. Your leadership of the G20 is making new strides on climate finance. And you have been a proponent of international institutions and global solutions to global challenges.
And as a point of personal privilege, as chair of the National Space Council, I thank you for your leadership in space and for our joint work on an Earth science satellite, which will help us address the climate crisis.
And I will also thank you because when you and I first met at the White House, I asked you to join the Artemis Accords: a commitment to the safe and transparent use of space. And today, I am happy to report, as you have, that you have joined the Artemis Accords. (Applause.)
So, Prime Minister Modi, President Joe Biden and I are grateful for your commitment to strengthen the ties and the relationships between the United States and India. And we share that commitment. Under your leadership and that of President Biden, our partnership has become more expansive than it has ever been.
Over the past two and a half years, you and I have advanced cooperation on climate, on clean energy, terrorism, cybercrime, public health, and vaccine production.
And during this trip, our countries have launched new areas of cooperation from artificial intelligence to semiconductors.
As we look toward the future, the United States and India, the world's oldest and largest democracies, instinctively turn to each other and are increasingly aligned.
So, I will con- -- close with this, which is a memory, again, of my grandfather and what he taught me on those long walks and, in particular, what he taught me about the nobility of public service.
Prime Minister Modi, you and I have both dedicated our careers to the noble work of public service. And so, to everyone here today, I say: It is incumbent on each of us, inside of government and outside of government, to continue the fight for progress and to serve the greater good.
So, I raise a glass. To the enduring bonds between our nations and our people. And to our continued work together, all in the service of the greater good.
Prime Minister. Cheers.
(Vice President Harris offers a toast.)
PRIME MINISTER MODI: (As interpreted.) Vice President Kamala Harris; Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff; Secretary of State and my friend, Antony Blinken; White House Cabinet Secretary Evan Ryan; all distinguished guests and representatives: Friends, first and foremost, I would like to thank Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary Blinken for this grand welcome. Thank you so much. I am also truly grateful to you both for your warm and kind words.
Today, to be among all of you at the State Department once again is a matter of great pleasure for me. In the last three days, I have taken part in several meetings and discussed numerous topics. In all of these meetings, there was one thing that was common: In all of these meetings, everyone was of the view that the friendship and cooperation between the people of India and America needs to become even deeper.
The sweet melody of the India-U.S. relations is composed of the notes of our people-to-people ties. Examples of these relations can be seen at every step.
Vice President Kamala Harris's mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, came to America from India in 1958. At that time, most people did not have phones. And so, her mother, she would send handwritten letters to her family back home.
And at any time, she did not let her relation with India break. She kept the relation alive with whatever ways and means she could find. She made maximum use of it. For India and her life in America, she kept them both linked. Despite thousands of miles of physical distance, India always remained close to her heart.
And, Madam Vice President, you have taken this inspiration today to newer heights. Your achievements are an inspiration to not only the women in America, but to women in India and women all across the world. This is really inspiring. (Applause.)
Secretary Blinken, when I, in the beginning, mentioned the words like "music" and "notes," I actually had you in mind. You know, the entire world knows about your diplomatic skills, and I now know it very well. There is also a lot of buzz about your musical talent. Even when covering thousands of miles of traveling, dealing with the most serious of issues, you always find time for music.
This is extremely inspiring for all of us. Your contribution in strengthening our strategic partnership has been incredible, and I thank you for it. Really, thank you, Secretary Blinken. (Applause.)
Friends, during my visit in 2014, my dear friend President Biden was also here with me at the State Department. At that time, he had referred to India-America partnership as a promise over the horizon.
In this period of nine years since then, we have been on a very long and beautiful journey. We have added and expanded the scope of mutual cooperation in defense and strategic areas. We are working with renewed trust in areas of new and emerging technologies. We are resolving long-pending and difficult issues in trade.
We are together in these new frameworks, such as Quad and I2U2, and we have made a lot of progress in these. Whether it is on ground or in the skies, in the deep seas or way up in space, India and America can be seen working together.
Indeed, in the true sense, the promise over the horizon today is not merely a promise but a reality. And neither is it far over the horizon.
Where we stand today, the achievements that we take pride in are all the result of your dreams and your tireless hard work. I commend you all for it, and I thank you for it.
(Speaks English.) Friends, on this note, I would like to raise a toast. To your good health and well-being. To our friendship. And to the peace and prosperity of all of our citizens. Thank you.
(Prime Minister Modi offers a toast.)
Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at a State Luncheon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/363383