Members of Indian Parliament listened mesmerized as US president Barack Obama today transformed himself from being a mere salesman-in-chief of America to a visionary world leader who aspired to live up to the great ideals that had inspired Indian and US founding fathers in laying the foundations of the two democratic republics. (Of course, he did also make major policy commitments, such as US support for India’s permanent seat in United Nations Security Council, that should please Indian leaders.)
Will the real Obama please stand up?
Indian lawmakers rose as one spontaneously to give Obama a warm standing ovation when he concluded his speech with “Jai Hind” (Long Live India) in Hindi, the favourite traditional salutation that has been a rallying slogan ever since the freedom struggle began in India. Speaker of Lok Sabha, Parliament’s Lower House, Ms Meira Kumar described Obama’s speech as “the celebration of democracy”.
Obama said: “And as two global leaders, the United States and India can partner for global security – especially as India serves on the Security Council over the next two years. Indeed, the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate. That is why I can say today – in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.
“Together, the United States and India can pursue our goal of securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials. We can make it clear that even as every nation has the right to peaceful nuclear energy, every nation must also meet its international obligations – and that includes the Islamic Republic of Iran. And together, we can pursue a vision that Indian leaders have espoused since Independence – a world without nuclear weapons.”
“As the world’s two largest democracies, we must also never forget that the price of our own freedom is standing up for the freedom of others. Indians know this, for it is the story of your nation. Before he ever began his struggle for Indian independence, Gandhi stood up for the rights of Indians in South Africa. Just as others, including the United States, supported Indian Independence, India championed the self-determination of peoples from Africa to Asia as they too broke free from colonialism. And along with the United States, you’ve been a leader in supporting democratic development and civil society groups around the world. This, too, is part of India’s greatness.
“Every country will follow its own path. No one nation has a monopoly on wisdom, and no nation should ever try to impose its values on another. But when peaceful democratic movements are suppressed – as in Burma – then the democracies of the world cannot remain silent. For it is unacceptable to gun down peaceful protesters and incarcerate political prisoners decade after decade. It is unacceptable to hold the aspirations of an entire people hostage to the greed and paranoia of a bankrupt regime. It is unacceptable to steal an election, as the regime in Burma has done again for all the world to see.”
“I am not the first American president to visit India. Nor will I be the last. But I am proud to visit India so early in my presidency. It is no coincidence that India is my first stop on a visit to Asia, or that this has been my longest visit to another country since becoming President.
“For in Asia and around the world, India is not simply emerging; India has already emerged. And it is my firm belief that the relationship between the United States and India – bound by our shared interests and values – will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. This is the partnership I have come here to build. This is the vision that our nations can realise together.”
Here’s The Washington Post report: “He thrilled them by calling for India to have a permanent seat on an expanded U.N. Security Council. He reassured them by demanding that Pakistan bring those responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks to justice. He flattered them by recalling India’s historic achievements in science, philosophy and the invention of the digit “zero”. And he amazed them by using that ubiquitous tool of modern American politics: the teleprompter.
“President Obama used the electronic speech-displaying device Monday to deliver his 30-minute address to Indian lawmakers in the historic Central Hall of parliament, the same place where Britain relinquished power to a newly independent India in 1947. It was the first time a teleprompter had been used inside the chamber.” More here…
The CSM states: “But Mr. Obama’s flattering justification for India to join one of the world’s most exclusive and powerful clubs – he said India is no longer an ’emerging’ nation, but rather has ‘already emerged’ – does not mean the booming South Asian democracy should expect to see its name engraved on a Security Council seat in New York any time soon. Just ask Japan…” More here…
Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.)
Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department’s SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi.
In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF’s Eco-tourism policy.
He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on “Development Journalism” to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years.
In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India — West Bengal and Orissa.
Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia.
Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there.
He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation.
And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.