Houston: The mega “Howdy Modi!” diaspora event here on Sunday to greet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump would provide the world a glimpse of the contributions of Indian-Americans to the cultural, intellectual and social landscape of the US, the organisers say.
For the first time, Modi and Trump would share the stage to address the 50,000-strong Indian diaspora during the September 22 event titled Shared Dreams, Bright Future” that would focus on the success of Indian-Americans as well as the strength of the US-India relationship.
Describing the joint appearance of the two leaders as “unconventional and unique”, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian Ambassador to the US said, “the event will reflect the strong bipartisan support there has been for US-India relations.”
Indian-Americans are an “organic bridge” between the world’s two largest democracies, he said.
Modi will be visiting the US from September 21-27 for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It is his first US trip after winning a second term as prime minister in May.
He will also have a meeting with CEO’s of energy companies in Houston, world’s energy capital, before heading to New York for the UNGA.
This will be the largest gathering for an invited foreign leader visiting the United States other than the Pope, Jugal Malini, member of the Texas India Forum (TIF), which is the main organiser of the event, said.
The event is the third meeting between Trump and Modi in three months, after the G-20 summit in Japan in June and the G-7 summit in France last month.
The organisers hope to keep the event non-partisan and has invited speakers including Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives.
Jagdip Ahluwalia, founding secretary and currently executive director of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH), told PTI there are 90 organisations in town participating in the event.
IACCGH has created a special billboard to welcome Modi.
Houston is the energy capital of the world and the most diverse city in America. The news of President Trump joining this is a sign of the growing importance of the US-India relationship, he said.
Hundreds of volunteers, TIF, the Indian Consulate in Houston, city officials, governor’s office are all working together to make the event a success.
TIF said the event will start with a 90-minute cultural programme- Woven: The Indian-American Story- that is a celebration of Indian-Americans and their contributions to the cultural, intellectual and social landscape of the US.
Over 50,000 attendees and those watching at home will experience the vibrant expressions of people empowered by their identity and driven to enrich the communities around them, it said.
Rishi Bhutada, public relations and media coordinator for the event, said, Out of 50,000 people expected, 8,000 are coming from outside Texas state.
There will be a cultural programme, followed by the Prime Minister Modi’s address, he said.
Welcome messages, personalised billboards across the city, special video from various organisations and prominent people are seen throughout the city.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his message said, “I’m deeply appreciative of Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to Digital India…for India to keep making progress, India needs to be a leader online.”
Another message from Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said, “India has world class entrepreneurs and human capital. The Prime Minister’s vision is spot on; he knows how tech is a powerful tool to enable human ingenuity.”
Durga Agrawal, President and CEO of Piping Tech and Products, extended a warm welcome to the prime ministers on behalf of the Indian-American community in Houston.
Bhavesh Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, described the business relations between India and Texas while sharing an enthusiastic message to welcome the prime minister.
Paul Jacobs, former executive chairman, Qualcomm, said “We share Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.”
David Leebron, President of Rice University, is pleased that the prime minister has decided to come to Houston and proudly zooms in on the Indian-American community on campus while highlighting their contribution towards diversity.
Meanwhile, many are praying for the rain to stop as a trio of tropical storm systems brewing in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday may dump heavy rain in parts of Texas and Louisiana in the coming days.
Threats from the storm include heavy rainfall and flooding in the Houston area, said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District.
Tropical depression Imelda could bring up to 18 inches of rain to parts of southeastern parts of the state.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has placed resources on standby across the state.