This discussion aired on Sunday September 21, 2014
The following are excerpts from an interview between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that aired on FAREED ZAKARIA GPS. As he prepares for his first address before the world stage of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sat down with Fareed Zakaria for a global exclusive on Sunday, Sept. 21. The excerpts below relate to U.S. ties with India and al Qaeda’s plan to launch a new branch on the Indian subcontinent.
VIDEO & TEXT EXCERPTS
ZAKARIA: There are many people in the United States and some in India who wish that the United States and India were much closer allies. The world’s oldest democracy, the world’s biggest democracy, but somehow that has never happened and there have always been these frictions and difficulties. Do you think it is possible for the United States and India to develop a genuinely strategic alliance?
MODI: I have a one word answer: YES. And with great confidence I say “yes”. Let me explain. There are many similarities between India and America. If you look at the last few centuries, two things come to light. America has absorbed people from around the world … and there is an Indian in every part of the world. This characterizes both the societies. Indians and Americans have coexistence in their natural temperament. Now, yes, for sure, there have been ups and downs in our relationship in the last century. But from the end of the 20th century to the first decade of the 21st century, has witnessed a big change. Our ties have deepened. India and the United States of America are bound together, by history and by culture. These ties will deepen further.
ZAKARIA: So far in your contacts with the Obama administration, you have had several cabinet ministers come here. Do you feel that there is a genuine desire from Washington to try to upgrade the relationship with India substantially?
MODI: Relations between India and America should not be seen within the limits of just Delhi and Washington. It’s a much larger sphere. The good thing is that the mood of both Delhi and Washington is in harmony with this understanding. Both sides have played a role in this.
ZAKARIA: Ayman al-Zawahiri the head of al Qaeda has issued a video and an appeal trying to create an Al Qaida in India. In south Asia he says but the message was really directed towards India and he says he wants to free Muslims from the oppression they face in Gujarat, in Kashmir. Do you think, do you worry that something like this could succeed?
MODI: My understanding is that they are doing injustice towards the Muslims of our country. If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional. Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India. They will not want anything bad for India.
ZAKARIA: Why do you think it is that there is this remarkable phenomenon that you have a 170 million Muslims and they seem to be almost no or very few members of Al-Qaeda. Even though Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan and of course the many in Pakistan. What is it that has made this community not as susceptible?
MODI: Firstly, I am not the authority for doing a psychological and religious analysis on this … But the question is, whether or not humanity should be defended in the world? Whether or not believers in humanity should unite? This is a crisis against humanity, not a crisis against one country or one race. So we have to frame this as a fight between humanity and inhumanity. Nothing else.