Thirteen-year-old Satvik Hegde entered the annals of 'selfie glory' by securing a photo opportunity with Prime Minister Modi and Donald Trump during the 'Howdy, Modi!' event in Houston on Sunday.
“It was just another selfie, I was lucky to get it but more than that, I was grateful that the Trump and Modi obliged my request,” Satvik said to DH, adding, however, that he had some qualms that the US Secret Service would descend upon him and take his phone.
The much-reported moment that has triggered a perfect storm of praise and “selfie” envy in India, happened just as Prime Minister Modi and US President Trump walked past a line of traditional Indian dancers and children dressed in all-white yoga garb, when 13-year-old Satvik Hegde, whose family hails from Siddapur in Uttara Kannada stepped out of the column and asked for a selfie.
According to Satvik, he asked Trump: “Can I take a selfie with you, sir?” By that point, Modi was already several steps ahead, but upon hearing this, he apparently turned back and the two national leaders clustered around the boy for the photograph.
Modi patted Satvik on the back and said: “kamal kardia” (you did good), while Trump allegedly told the boy that he is going to be a successful person.
“Because you know what you want,” Trump added, according to Satvik’s father, Prabhakar, an IT professional who moved his family to San Antonio, Texas, a decade ago.
Although Satvik’s family itself did not learn about the “selfie” until hours later, primarily because Satvik did not feel it important enough to tell them, a video of the moment has gone viral on the internet, not least of all for the wide-eyed, wide-mouthed look of gawking shock that a girl next to the trio pulls at the sight.
However, Prahakar hinted that the “selfie” was not entirely spontaneous. “The organiser of the Yoga contingent, Dr Hetal Nayak, had informed the group that a child should go up to the national leaders and ask for a “selfie,” and that Satvik had been informed. But there was no follow-up information,” he said.
According to Prabhakar, the genesis of how the selfie turned viral is fascinating. The family apparently only learned about the photo when a friend forwarded them the image as they were travelling back to San Antonio by bus. (Satvik was on another bus with the other performers). Soon, the image had circulated to several of the family’s Whatsapp groups and their friends. By 5 am on Monday morning (US time), Prabhakar said he noticed the the image had appeared on the BJP party website and that media outlets in India were calling him.
“Here, in the US, the response has been more muted,” Prabhakar said, explaining that only a local TV channel, KSAT, reached out to Satvik, and because he refused to comment, they ran an item based on reportage coming out of India.
In school, Satvik said that he found himself turned into a minor celebrity but maintained that what he did was really not that important. “It doesn’t affect me. I don’t really see the photo as ‘cool.’ It is just another selfie,” he said.
Satvik, who is currently in the 9th grade, said that he hopes to become a doctor, but that he is also fascinated by history. He is also a gifted piano player, having practiced for the last 10 years, according to Prabhakar.
The 'Howdy, Modi!' event, which was organised by the Texas India Forum and held at the Houston’s NRG Stadium, had an estimated 50,000 people in attendance.
The event also saw a large collection of protesters, estimated at several thousand, many of whom waved placards pointing out the Centre’s actions in Kashmir, with one proclaiming boldly: “Go Back, Modi!” Another sign described the event as a reunion of fascists, proclaiming: “Birds of a Feather Fascist Together,” accompanied by cutouts of Modi and Trump.