Hope is the one word that describes India’s success story, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.
“India’s rise is a story of rare resilience, renewed resurgence, superb speed and spectacular scale,” Modi said in his trademark Indian diaspora rally at the Ticketpro Dome, the entertainment hub of Johannesburg.
“Today, India’s success story can be defined in just four letters, ‘hope’, where H stands for harmony, O for optimism, P for potential and E for energy,” he said to the cheers of over 11,000 people.
“The credit for this does not go to Modi but to the 1.25 billion people of India.”
Modi started his speech with a mixture of English and Hindi.
“When I see all of you, I am reminded of your ancestors and their struggles and bravery,” he said.
“Under decades of apartheid isolation, they not only preserved culture, tradition and language, they also gave them new wings to flourish,” he stated.
“The beauty of Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Urdu and Telugu continues to enrich the fabric of South African society.”
There are around 1.2 million people of Indian origin in South Africa, most of whose ancestors were brought here as indentured labour.
This apart, there are also estimates of 15,000 to 20,000 Indian nationals and professionals who are new immigrants.
“The colours of Holi, the sparkle of Diwali, tastes of Pongal, and festivities of Eid are not just the rainbow of Indian traditional cultural resources,” Modi said wearing a Madiba shirt, an Indonesian batik shirt that was a favourite with late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
The Prime Minister said it was in South Africa that Mahatma Gandhi conceptualised his politics.
“This is the birthplace of satyagraha. South Africa transformed Mohandas into Mahatma,” he said.
He reminded the crowd that after international sanctions were lifted on cricket in South Africa on July 10, 1991, India was the first country that the South African team toured.
Modi urged the people to join in India’s growth story.
“India is a land of opportunity for those who want to innovate and create, trade and invest,” he said.
“Come, see the transformation that is taking place in India.”
Stating that India registered a healthy growth rate of 7.4 per cent this year, he said it was the bright spot in the global economy.
The Prime Minister said India and South Africa have similar aspirations and challenges.
“India and South Africa are strategic partners. We should build a partnership that spans the entirety of human endeavour,” he said.
According to Modi, this partnership can scale new heights in diverse fields “from agriculture to health care, from culture to commerce, from industry to institution building, from investment to information technology, from mining to manufacturing from sports to science and technology, and from defence to development”.
“As South Africa works for economic prosperity, safety and security, it will find in India a trusted and reliable partner,” he stated.
The Prime Minister concluded by saying that the Indian community in South Africa was a window to India’s heritage.
“Your achievements, your contributions and your success make us all proud,” he said.
India and South Africa signed four agreements on Friday following bilateral discussions led by Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria.
Following the diaspora rally, the Prime Minister will leave for Durban where his engagements are scheduled for Saturday.
Modi arrived in South Africa from Mozambique on Thursday night on the second leg of his four-nation tour of Africa.
This is his first visit to mainland Africa and is also the first prime ministerial visit from India to South Africa since then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in 2013 for the G20 summit in Durban.
Apart from Mozambique and South Africa, Modi will also visit Tanzania and Kenya.