President Barack Obama’s trip to India was rich in symbolism: he is the first US President to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. He is also the first US President who stepped on the soils of India twice during his tenure.
While addressing Delhi University students at Siri Fort auditorium on January 27, President Obama made some interesting comments. Unfortunately, Indian media overlooked the crucial point which should have been highlighted. Leading Indian newspapers focused on the different aspect in his speech!
Times of India front-page headline: India will succeed if not riven by religion
The Telegraph Page 1 cried: O-BAM!
Hindustan Times came up with the lead headline on Page 1: Obama adds religious tolerance to vision of India-US partnership
I understand the Modi government faced allegations of inaction in hate speeches, attempts by radical Hindus groups to ‘reconvert’ Christians and Muslims to Hinduism and attacks on churches.
Modi never came out in their defence. Rather he was closeted with RSS chief Mohan Bhagat to find out ways to stop these xenophobic and intolerant gestures. Modi also rebuked some of his MPs who backed this programme (ghar vapsi).
In the wake of the protests following a grand jury’s failure to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, President Obama met civil rights leaders and, separately, with a group of young activist leaders and told them that the task at hand is to initiate a “sustained conversation” that addresses the “simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color”.
Indian media could have done well to focus on right topics and show how Modi and Obama bonded over their humble beginnings on the radio show— the first ever joint radio address by an Indian PM and US President which was aired.
In the 30-minute radio talks, the two leaders said they never thought they would reach such high positions.
“I think both of us have been blessed with extraordinary opportunity, coming from relatively humble beginnings,” Obama said in reply to a question. “When I think about what’s best in America and what’s best in India, the notion that a tea seller or somebody who is born to a single mother, like me, could end up leading our countries is an extraordinary example of the opportunities that exist within our countries.”
Modi said he had never imagined holding the country’s top office “because, as Barack said, I came from a very humble background”.
Indian media, look at what President Obama had said:
India can be America’s best partner…
Washington and New Delhi can be one of the defining partnerships of this century…
India is our closest ally…
Martin Luther King (Jr) said his ‘guiding light’ was Mahatma Gandhi. Murtin Luther visited India in 1959. He said: “Gandhi is the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”
The greatest son of India Swami Vivekanada visited America in 1893. He went to my hometown Chicago. Swamiji made Yoga and Hinduism popular in the US…
Swamiji said “Brothers and Sisters of America”.
Today I’m saying “Brothers and Sisters of India”, Obama said.
The US president’s comments betrayed the warmth and personal camaraderie between him and Modi.
Obama saluted the Indian woman army officer while she went up to him to greet
The US president lauded the woman power!
He explained how the civil N-deal would help Indians in getting cheap electricity and clean energy.
Obama’s other messages are also very critical: A thrust on pollution and a common approach on China.
Modi addressed the US President as ‘Barack’. He said there existed an interesting ‘chemistry’ between him and Barack.
Let’s take a look at New York Times: ‘Obama-Modi chemistry appears genuine’
Obama-Modi bonhomie signals new dawn in Indo-US relations!
During his talks with Obama in September 2014, Modi suggested revitalizing a loose security network involving the United States, India, Japan and Australia, a grouping that China views with suspicion.
Obama also persuaded Modi to sign a statement that implicitly slammed China for its provocative moves in the South China Sea. India had already expressed concerns about China’s behaviour in that arm of the western Pacific and keeps cooperating with Vietnam, another critic of China, on an oil-drilling venture in the area’s waters.
China also expressed concerns this week about President Obama’s offer to support India’s membership in the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, an organization devised to ensure that civilian nuclear trade is not diverted for military uses.
India’s possible membership was part of a deal between Washington and New Delhi that broke a five-year logjam preventing American companies from building N-power plants in India.
The two leaders can make things happen; they can make the world safer and provide our children a better world where everyone can realise his/her potential.
Indian media, please focus on the right perspective!
Please let Modi work. Don’t just assess him from the perspective of the 2002 incident only. He wears a different cap now. Remember Rishi Valmiki what he was in his early days! So, give him some more time. Modi deserves it. Doesn’t he?