As part of his U.S. tour, India's new prime minister Narendra Modi took center stage Sunday night before a near-capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden. Yes, the Garden.
PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI (translation): "God Bless mother India was the chant."
The newly-created Indian American Community Foundation sponsored the $1.5 million spectacle and pretty much went all out. A series of choreographed dances, musicians, artists, even a light show — all with Indian motifs — honored the new prime minster before his speech. (Video via YouTube / PMO India)
The 64-year-old Indian leader won in a landslide victory in the country's May elections. He told thousands of supporters he plans to usher in an era of economic prosperity despite the country's previous woes. India is currently the world's largest democracy.
The Guardian quotes him saying Sunday night: "Some say, this is India’s century. India has the potential … The time has come. India is the world’s youngest country and its most ancient culture. [It] has something that other countries in the world don’t."
The crowd at the Garden was dwarfed by the nearly 60,000 supporters who crammed Central Park earlier in the day to hear Modi drum up youth support for the Global Citizens festival to end world poverty.
Now the hype surrounding Modi's speaking engagements in New York City specifically might have a lot to do with his previous attempt to do so.
Nearly a decade ago, Modi planned to speak before Indian-Americans in the Big Apple, but the Bush Administration rejected his visa because of Modi's alleged religious rights violations while he was head of state in Gujarat in 2002.
The spillover from that is still felt today. The New York Times says a federal court in the Empire State issued a subpoena for Modi to address the allegations, though it's unlikely to affect his current visit.
Plus, a small pocket of protestors rallied outside the Garden while he spoke with plans to follow to other engagements.
Modi's five-day trip to the U.S. doesn't stop in New York City. He heads to Washington D.C. on Monday to meet with President Obama and several top corporations like Google and IBM. The Indian leader hopes to bridge a gap between the two nations by building better relations between the U.S. and India.
This video includes images from Getty Images.