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01 Dec 2017

Former US President Barack Obama in India, praises Modi

Former US President Barack Obama addressed a town hall meeting in Delhi today. He interacted with 300 young leaders from across the country.

Earlier, he addressed the HT Leadership Summit. He said he liked PM Narendra Modi, who "has a vision for the country that he is implementing; he is modernizing India's democracy."

This is Obama's first visit to Indian since he demitted office.

In context

Former US president Barack Obama is in Delhi
"Both PM Modi and Manmohan Singh took tough decisions"

Modi and Manmohan

"Both PM Modi and Manmohan Singh took tough decisions"

Terming both Modi and Manmohan Singh his "great friends," Obama said both PMs had taken "tough decisions."

They both wanted to "lift millions out of poverty." He said Modi is modernizing democracy and Singh had modernized Indian economy. Further, Singh dealt with the economic downturn whereas Modi "unlocked the Paris Accord."

Moreover, according to him, both appreciated US to be a key partner.


"Terrorism is everyone's problem"

While talking about the 26/11 attacks, Obama said US was worried about the incident; he stressed that terrorism is everyone's problem.

Regarding Pakistan's role in fostering terrorism, Obama said "We have no evidence that Pakistan government knew of Osama bin Laden's presence there. But journalists are free to study and analyze it."

He, however, admitted connections between terror organizations and official elements in Pakistan.

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"We need to understand the challenges of technologies"


"We need to understand the challenges of technologies"

Obama declared that "Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp are powerful tools which can be used for both good and bad."

He said he follows grammar/punctuation on Twitter. He confessed that his daughters laughed at this habit of his. "But it's good to think before tweeting the first thought in our mind," he said.

Perhaps, this was his way of taking a dig at President Trump!

Culinary pursuits

"I am first American president to know recipe for dal"

Obama had the audience in splits when he said he was the only US president to know the recipe for dal. He said he was served dal the night before and went on to explain how it's made; he had learnt making dal from his Indian roommate.

He said he makes good keema and chicken. He acknowledged that making "chapati" is hard.


"US-India are the defining partnership of the 21st century"

Obama admitted that "India and US have much in common." He said the "world's oldest democracy and world's largest democracy should be a defining partnership of 21st century."

While talking about democracy, Obama said the most important office is not of the president, PM or mayor but the citizens'.

He lamented that "individual rights, free speech, free press and human rights" are under attack.


"Youth should never be discouraged"

At the town hall, Obama spoke of the importance of youth. He said most political parties in the world are full of old people. He claimed that he wants to train the next generation of leaders.

He encouraged youth with catch-phrases: "Youth must work hard and have fun," "Don't let Naysayers kill your zeal" and "Youth should never be discouraged."

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