US & Canada

Madison Square Garden spot for India's Modi on US visit

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Media captionThe BBC's Nick Bryant: "What's missing from this mention of Narendra Modi's controversial back story"

Indian PM Narendra Modi has received a rapturous welcome from thousands of Indian-Americans at New York's Madison Square Garden, on his visit to the US.

He told the crowd that the 21st Century was "Asia's century".

He is on his first trip to America since being elected this summer, when the US lifted a visa ban brought in on grounds of religious intolerance.

The former chief minister of Gujarat has always denied wrongdoing during deadly riots against Muslims in 2002.

He is due to meet President Barack Obama and top US business leaders.

Analysts say Mr Modi's visit has generated huge excitement among Indian-Americans who believe that he could help to portray India as a rising global power.

Analysis: Nick Bryant, BBC News, New York

In an arena which has hosted Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, it was Narendra Modi, a one-time pariah, who received the superstar welcome.

Until recently, he could not even have walked through American immigration. He was refused a visa. But now, as the Indian prime minister, he stepped on stage at Madison Square Garden to chants of his name.

This was a rebranding exercise, national and personal. He predicted this would be India's century because of his country's youthful population and spirit of innovation.

To his largely Indian-American audience, which packed out the stadium, he also promised a simplified immigration procedure so that they could all join hands to serve Mother India.

New York gives star treatment to Modi

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Modi supporters brandished posters of their man
Image copyright AP
Image caption Traditional dancers perform at Madison Square Garden
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dancers warmed up the crowd
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Narendra Modi visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York on Saturday

In an unusual display of glamour for a visiting foreign leader, Mr Modi took the stage at the New York venue made famous by the late rock star John Lennon and the boxer Muhammad Ali among others.

Mars mission

Flagging up modern India's achievements, he singled out its success in sending a satellite to orbit Mars - a considerable achievement, says BBC science correspondent Jonathan Amos.

India, Mr Modi boasted, had travelled through space to Mars at a cost of "seven rupees [£0.07; $0.11; 0.09 euros] per kilometre, much cheaper than travelling a kilometre in Ahmedabad" (Gujarat's biggest city).

India, he said, should be proud of "three things - democracy, demographic dividend and demand".

Pushing his "Make In India" campaign, he said India offered human resources and low-cost production.

During his four-day visit, Mr Modi is expected to meet Mr Obama in Washington, and will see top leaders of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, IBM, GE and Boeing.

Delhi and Washington have strong security and trade ties, but relations deteriorated in recent months.

India's refusal to sign a global trade deal, a row over alleged American surveillance on the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a diplomatic spat involving an Indian envoy to the US are among some of the issues causing tension.

On the first day of his visit, Mr Modi used a speech to the UN to renew his country's call for reform of the Security Council.

India has long lobbied for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Mr Modi also said he wanted peace talks with Pakistan but insisted it must create an "appropriate atmosphere".

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