Friday 21 October 2016

Huge crowds queue to see visiting Indian PM

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Indian PM Narendra Modi and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

It isn't often that a political figure can expect to attract more than 1,000 people for one short meeting, and yet it was exactly what the Indian prime minister did in Dublin yesterday.

Narendra Modi met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday morning, and later met with members of Ireland's Indian community in the Doubletree by Hilton hotel on the Burlington Road.

Mr Modi came to Ireland just before he begins an official visit of the United States. But for those gathered in Dublin yesterday, it was more than just a pitstop.

Excited queues of Indian people based in Ireland wound around nearby streets before the event.


Bollywood dance, traditional music and a group of Irish students singing in Sanskrit featured as part of the entertainment before Mr Modi's arrival.

Mr Modi has been in office since May 2014, and has received praise for his progressive approach to Indian politics.

Alka Gupta, who has been living in Cashel with her husband and son Yash (21) for the past 15 years, came to Dublin for the occasion.

"Narendra Modi is a very quiet man, very progressive," she said.

"I light a candle every day for this visit to progress India, to make peace and for everyone to progress."

Ms Gupta (49) pointed out that Ireland and India have interesting cultural links, as Sanskrit and Irish are both among the oldest languages in the world.

Fr Francis Neelankavil, a Catholic priest who has been living in Cork for three years, said the event highlighted the diversity within Ireland's Indian community: "All are here - Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs."

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