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Mar 11, 2013 at 10:30am IST

Secularism to me means India first, Modi tells NRIs in US in his address

New Delhi: After the Wharton snub, Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi addressed the Indian diaspora in the US via video conference. Modi addressed the Indian diaspora in Edison, New Jersey, Chicago and Illinois on March 9 at 8.00 pm (local time in US).

Modi in his charming manner stated that Gujarat has become a symbol of development. Modi while hinting at his strategy for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections said that elections can be won on development alone and no one can stop India from becoming a world leader. "I don't want to criticise any government. My definition of secularism is simple - India first, " said Modi.

Taking a pot shot at UPA's Budget, Modi said, "This year both Indian government's budget and Gujarat's budget came. Indian government has allotted Rs 1000 crore for skill development. But a small state like Gujarat has allotted Rs 800 crore for skill development."

Modi also put the onus of his successive terms in Gujarat as Chief Minister to development. "My victory in back to back elections belongs to people of Gujarat. This shows development can win elections. People want development. Gujarat is discussed because of its development. I welcome criticism. Every government has its own good and bad things. We had always done things with good intentions."

Modi sounding upbeat about the Indian impact at a global level said, "We can change the world, we can and we will. Have to put right things at the right place. India has got everything. People of Gujarat have always voted for development."

While praising Gujarat Modi said, "Gujarat has become a symbol of development. Even during the worst times of recession, Gujarat was always developing in this competitive world. Gujarat always been praised for its good governance, efficiency and cheap labour. Our focus is on skill development. Swami Vivekananda has inspired the youth all over the world."

Boosting tourism as an asset for the state of Gujarat, Modi said, "Gujaratis are the best tourists but Gujarat was never a tourist destination. We have worked a lot on tourism from last couple of years. Now Gujarat's tourism has been on boom."

"More and more Non-Resident Indian youth are coming to India for the development of the India, which is a good sign. 19th century belonged to Europe, 20th century belonged to the USA and now 21st century is for Asia. India and China are the main competitors," said Modi.

The event was organised by the Overseas Friends of the BJP. Modi's address at Wharton Business School was cancelled under pressure from the school's management and alumni because of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. After Modi was dropped by Wharton as a keynote speaker at one of it's events, the Adani group and the Gujarat Chief Minister's loyalists pulled out as the main sponsor of the Wharton India Economic Forum.

In a Wall Street Journal poll on the Wharton snub issue, 92.5 per cent of nearly 5000 votes cast from around the world said the university had made a mistake in Modi's case.

Watch Narendra Modi's speech here:

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