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PM Modi Praises Firstpost’s Palki Sharma for Impactful Oxford Union Speech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised journalist Palki Sharma for her address at the Oxford Union, in which she argued in favour of how “Modi’s India is on the right path.”

After the speech surfaced on social media and went viral, Sharma took to X (formerly Twitter) to clarify that the remarks were made more than a year ago, but mentioned how “overwhelmed” she was to see her speech resonating “with so many of you.”

Responding to her post, PM Modi wrote on X, “You have given a wonderful glimpse of the massive transformations taking place across India.”

An expert in foreign affairs, she is Managing Editor, Firstpost.

The speech

“We are debating India’s Path tonight, and I could wrap my argument in one sentence borrowed from the White House: ‘Go to New Delhi and see it for yourself’,” she began with reference to a June 2023 statement by John Kirby, the White House’s National Security Communications Advisor.

Recalling an incident, Sharma then spoke about “three of the many developments” in India she would go on to list: financial inclusion, internet and mobile penetration, and growing airport traffic.

She continued: “I have lived in many Indias…the very India where exciting policies and positions were abandoned. The self-doubting India, where decisions were taken based on global opinions. And today, a more confident India where the world comes for leadership and inspiration. Indians are prosperous at home and hence more confident abroad.”

Describing the country as a “soft-power giant,” and, at the same time, “no longer a timid democracy that tolerates terrorism or betrayal,” Sharma recalled the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) strikes inside Pakistan’s Balakot in retaliation to the February 2019 Pulwama terrorist attack.

In her address, which went on for over 13 minutes, she also talked about India’s “new approach,” i.e., “not just putting more money in the pocket, it’s about empowering people,” and backed her argument with numbers.

Sharma then mentioned Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, touching PM Modi’s feet, and called this a “vote of thanks” for India sending Covid-19 vaccines to various nations, including PNG.

She also pointed to the progress in Jammu and Kashmir post the August 2019 abrogation of Article 370.

“To judge a country’s path, you have to be able to separate agenda-driven narrative from facts. For any country, there is always a wrong path…enough dictators and autocrats have shown us. But there is no single right path. As long as democracy and Constitution are respected, I would say, to each their own. It is wrong to judge one country on the parameters of another. Finally, the hallmark of the right direction is the public approval, Do the people think you are on the right path? The people of India answered that question in 2019,” she concluded to rapturous applause from the audience.

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