Speed Reads

Modi Rising

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a rock star's reception in New York

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Washington on Monday for a first meeting with President Obama, but it will be hard to top his long weekend in New York. Modi, a Hindu nationalist sworn in just four months ago, spoke before world leaders at the United Nations, appeared before a crowd of 60,000 at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, and on Sunday, delivered a 70-minute address to 19,000 enthusiastic Indian Americans (and Indian Canadians) in Madison Square Garden.

In Madison Square Garden, a retinue of U.S. lawmakers — U.S. senators, governors, and House members — were given polite applause, as were opening acts, but when Modi came onstage, "New York's most storied arena roared as one," says Vivian Yee at The New York Times, "as if all the Knicks, all the Rangers, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen had suddenly materialized." Modi promised to clean up the Ganges River, fight corruption, foster economic growth, and generally create "the India of your dreams." Notably, he promised lifetime visas for anyone holding a card showing he or she is of Indian origin.

Modi's rock-star welcome is especially impressive given that between 2005 and his election he was barred from visiting the U.S. because of deadly anti-Muslim riots in his state of Gujarat, when he was first minister. For what it's worth, John Oliver's favorite, bar-setting moment from Modi's triumphant stay in New York was from the Global Citizen Festival. You can watch that and some highlights from his MSG appearance below. --Peter Weber