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Narendra Modi meets two emerging women leaders with deep Indian ties

New York: Two women with deep ties to India, who are are at the forefront of the emerging American leadership, gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday an insight into the American political landscape and ideas for cooperation between Washington and New Delhi. They are from opposing parties and bring very different life experiences to politics.

One, Nikki Haley born in the United States of immigrant Sikh parents from Amritsar District is a Republican elected governor of South Carolina in 2010 and at 42 years was the youngest serving head of a state government. She had worked as an accountant before entering politics.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi at Madison Square Garden. Photo: AFP 

The other, Tulsi Gabbard, is ethnically an American Samoan, but an observant follower of Hinduism like her mother who adopted the faith. Elected from Hawaii in 2013 at the age of 32, the Democrat became the first Hindu elected to Congress. Also the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, she is a captain in a combat team of the Hawaii National Guard and served with US forces in Iraq.

Haley as the chief executive of a state, pitched for cooperation in business, industry and skills training. She is scheduled to lead a trade mission to India in November, according to The State, newspaper in South Carolina's capital, Columbia. Quoting the governor's office, the newspaper said they discussed "automotive, information technology and aerospace economic development; workforce training in high schools; and possible partnerships between South Carolina and India."

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akabaruddin said Modi was effusive in his praise of her accomplishments as a person of Indian origin and wished success in her political career. With her state developing the state sector and emphasising training, it could help Modi's plans for skills development.

Gabbard serves on the House of Representatives committees on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs and they discussed cooperation in those fields, Akbaruddin said. They also looked at how India and the US could work together in fighting terrorism.

In a statement she said, "Mr. Modi's visit marks a significant positive step toward growing the relationship between the U.S. and India, which is a bond based on shared democratic values and a focus on mutual prosperity and security. "Reacting to Modi's speech at the community reception, she said, "It has been an honor to ... hear his message of peace and friendship at his address to an energized crowd at New York's renowned Madison Square Garden."

Gabbard, who has a deep interest in the Vedas and in yoga, supported Modi's proposal to create an International Yoga Day. Akbaruddin said she presented Modi with the copy of the Bhagvad Gita on which she took her oath of office as a Congresswoman.

She is scheduled to attend a lunch in Washington hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry in Modi's honor.

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