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Text: Prem Panicker in Washington, DC | Photos: Paresh Gandhi

Three thousand, one hundred and five words, give the few innocuous ones he extemporaneously inserted into the text and take the few he spontaneously omitted. A fraction over 35 minutes delivery time -- and, not counting the standing ovation when he was introduced and the sustained applause when he concluded, 29 interruptions for applause.

That's the statistics of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's speech to the joint session of Congress, in the Great Hall of the House of Representatives, on Capitol Hill. And beneath those statistics, lie little stories.

Buzzwords and phrases like 'commitment to democracy' are guaranteed applause-bait, and they did not disappoint. References to initiatives jointly agreed on between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Singh, too, invited and got applause; as did a reference to the achievements of the Indian American community. 'There is much we can accomplish together'

References to the need for a hard line on terrorism, without sacrificing the openness that characterises the democracies of the US and India, were similarly guaranteed to go down well with the assembled lawmakers of both Houses. They did.

The best phrased, and articulated, segment of the speech was the one referring to the US and India as natural partners. 'Partnerships can be of two kinds,' Singh told his audience. 'There are partnerships based on principle, and partnerships based on pragmatism. I believe we are at a juncture where we can embark on a partnership that can draw both on principle as well as pragmatism. We must build on this opportunity.'

The Prime Minister addresses the joint session

Text: Prem Panicker in Washington, DC

Photos: Paresh Gandhi

Also Read: What Dr Singh told Congress

Complete Coverage: History in the Making

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