Does Obama’s three–day visit to India boost PM Modi’s image?
By J P Rajkhowa
We may recall that, in the run– up to the Lok Sabha Elections 2014, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate rendra Damodardas Modi (Mo) had addressed hundreds of election meetings and rallies across the country, carrying the ‘development’ message, in order to usher long–term prosperity for 125 Crore Indians, in an inclusive manner. He also urged upon the voters to give him (BJP?) 60 months as against 60 years given to the Congress party, to serve the country.The BJP obviously made Mo the brand Ambassador of the party, and wherever Mo visited, he had received unprecedented response from the people of all walks of life, barring his political detractors. In the campaigns, other party leaders of the BJP simply paled in to insignificance, due to the magnetic persolity and oratorical skill, his sense of humour, his humble origin– son of a chaiwalaand himself becoming one, and secondly as a RSS worker in New Delhi, where he used to wake up early in the morning, sweep and mop the floors of the building and even cooked food, also carrying errands on behalf of senior functiories of the organization. With his promise of ‘accha din anewala hai’ or good days are coming, and his commitment to root out corruption and ensure good governce, he could mesmerize his listeners and eventually the voters, which led his party to victory, with two– thirds majority in the House.
While there was a Modi–wave, practically all over the country, and among the 350 million youth, in particular, who pinned their hopes on the tech– savvy, development– oriented Mo to improve their lot and successfully lead the country in the global forums and face the emerging challenges– economic as well as strategic, enormously voted for the BJP and ensured its historical victory, stching power from the ineffective and corrupt UPA II led by the Congress. Mo’s critics– members of the intelligentsia, leader of non– BJP parties, media persons, minority religious leaders etc. continued making wild allegations against him, in spite of being given clean chit by the highest judicial forum, of being involved in the 2002 Gujrat ‘pogrom’.He was also being criticized for his non– English educatiol background, expressing doubts on his capacity to deal with the ‘mandarins’ of Lyuten’s Delhi as also inexperience in ‘foreign policy’ affairs, since his political career was confined to Gujrat only.
Mo was even criticized for his ‘chaiwala’ background, by a senior Congressman and noted writer, Mani Shankar Ayar, who offered to make space available in or about the Parliament House campus for Mo to open his ‘tea stall’. Mo has already proved more than once, his competence in foreign affairs, firstly by inviting the leaders of the SAARC countries to attend his swearing– in ceremony, and next by visiting close neighbours like Bhutan, Nepal and then USA for attending and addressing the UN General Assembly, interact with the Indian American community and the U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazil for attending the BRICS Summit. The same Mo today happens to be one of the most known and respected World leaders, within hardly eight months in office, as the Prime Minister of the World’s largest democracy. When he visited the USA, he was greeted, received and listened by lakhs of Indian Americans, Indian students and others as also American Congressmen in good numbers– a treatment, which no other Indian leader or Prime Minister ever received. He could develop instant rapport with the U.S. President Obama, so much so that, the latter in a rare gesture escorted Mo to the memorial of Dr. Martin Luthar King Jr. and had ‘one to one’ talk with him, which was extensively telecast and seen by the whole world, and which made every Indian proud of their Prime Minister. Through this visit, Mo could make a new beginning, in harvesting a healthy India– U.S. relationship, which was to serve our tiol interest better than ever before.
It came as a happy news for the people of India, at the beginning of the New Year 2015, when it was officially announced, that President Barack Obama would grace the Indian Republic Day Celebration on 26th January at Rajpath, New Delhi as the Chief Guest and that, he would be the first U. S. President to attend the Ceremony. Accordingly, Mr. Obama came to India on a three– day visit on January 25, and our Prime Minister even broke the ‘protocol’ and persolly went to the IGI Airport, New Delhi to receive Obama and the First Lady Michele, as they alighted from the U.S. Presidential plane Air Force 1.At the Republic Day Parade ground at Rajpath, Mo was seated next to the left of Obama, and during the entire Show, the whole world had seen through the television screen, how frequently and how closely they were talking to each other. The huge gathering at the Parade ground cheered loudly both Mo and Obama, as they arrived at the ground, which delighted millions in this country.The whole world had also seen the body language of the two world leaders and the chemistry developed between them, as Mo was serving tea to Obama, and both were talking one to one, over tea at the lawn of Hyderabad House, and next walking along the footpaths between the lawns, before walking down for a formal meeting. The fact that no interpreters were present during their talks, made it abundantly clear that, there was no language problem between the two world leaders.
Next comes the much– awaited Joint Press Conference, which was first addressed by Prime Minister Modi, in flawless English, welcoming the U. S. President and telling about the areas of agreement reached with him on several key matters like, the Indo– U.S. Civil Nuclear Deal, which was filized, removing the logjam for long seven years and also on the agreement reached on the ‘liability clause’ in the event of an accident in a nuclear power station, covered under the ‘deal’. Mr. Modi addressed Mr. Obama by his first me Barack several times during the address, thereby indicating to the whole world, the emerging ‘persol’ friendship and equation between them, in a very short period of hardly four to five months. Mo specifically talked about the persol chemistry developed between them, which was not only indicative of their growing friendship for mutual benefit of both the countries but also for closer relationship between the people of India and USA. While Obama warmly responded to the hospitality extended to him and the First lady by India, he avoided addressing Mo by his first me, but addressed as Prime Minister Modi, which is being interpreted differently by alysts.
Calling U.S. and India as tural partners, being the oldest and largest democracy respectively, President Obama believed that, both countries could become the best friends as well, in mutual interest and world peace. He expressed satisfaction over the clinching of the civil nuclear ‘deal’ and reiterated the U.S. decision to support India for inclusion as a ‘permanent member’ of the United tions’ Security Council. Both the leaders also reaffirmed their commitment for strategic partnership in the South Asia and Asia– Pacific Region, thereby giving a clear sigl to Chi to restrain on its expansionist designs. Enhanced cooperation between the two countries in the field of science and technology, manufacturing and supply of military hardware, increasing trade beyond the present level of U.S. $ 100 billion, promoting U.S. investment in response to Mo’s ‘Make in India’ policy, controlling environmental pollution in Indian cities and extending U. S. help in this area, assisting India in generation of cost– effective solar energy etc. also found mention in the Joint Statement.
Filly, we may briefly refer to the farewell message given by President Obama, as he addressed a gathering of 2000, comprising university students, diplomats, strategic alysts, activists and jourlists, at a ‘town hall type meeting’ at the Siri Fort Auditorium. Obama was quite emphatic, when he said, “India will survive as long as it is not divided along religious lines. And it’s when all Indians, whatever your faith, go to the movies and applaud actors like Sah Rukh Khan. And when you celebrate athletes like Milkha Singh or Mary Kom. He also dwelt on the Freedom of Religion granted under article 25 of Indian Constitution and America’s First Amendment.” Some alysts interpret this as ‘’addressed as much to Indians as to the President’s rights– based constituencies back home’’.Hope, everyone would appreciate what Obama said in his concluding words–“ For me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree’’.