US President Barack Obama Visits India
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor The Diplomatic Society
New Delhi, India
US President Barack Obama concluded his three day trip to India on Tuesday, January 27, 2015. Obama’s arrival in New Delhi marked the first United States sitting President to visit India twice during his tenure at the White House. President Obama and the First Lady were greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon their arrival in New Delhi, India.
US President Obama, Prime Minister Modi and First Lady Michelle Obama (Photograph: United States Embassy in New Delhi)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his one on one session with President Obama said, "Barack and I have forged a friendship. There is openness when we talk on the phone and we also crack jokes," the Prime Minister said. "This chemistry has brought Barack closer to me but also brought the people of India and America closer."
On January 25, US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle began their three day landmark visit to India with a booming 21-gun salute and the inspection of the guard of honour at the presidential palace known as Rashtrapati Bhavan. After his ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the visiting US President went straight to Rajghat to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
President Obama pays tribute to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi (Photograph United States Embassy in New Delhi)
President Obama accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama were the star guests at President Pranab Mukherjee's banquet. Among them External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, L.K Advani and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were some of the well-known guests who were invited to the Presidential banquet.
President Obama has become the first US president to be the guest of honour at India's annual Republic Day parade, a colourful display of the military might and cultural diversity in the capital, New Delhi. Greeting the people of India on its Republic Day, President Obama said while extending his greetings on the occasion, “I am honoured to be the first American president to attend this celebration, as well as the first president to visit India twice."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama attended the Indo-US CEO Forum meeting, which was held on Monday at the Hotel Taj. While speaking at the meeting, President Obama said, “Today, I’m proud to announce additional steps, a series of U.S. initiatives that will generate more than $4 billion in trade and investment with India and support thousands of jobs in both our countries. Specifically, over the next two years, our Export-Import Bank will commit up to $1 billion in financing to support “Made-in-America” exports to India.”
The visit resulted in agreements at the highest level on joint implementation of civil nuclear deal six years after it was signed. This was a “breakthrough understanding” that would make it easier for U.S. and foreign firms to invest in Indian nuclear power plants. Among the other agreements, renewal of the broad 10-year defence framework, with the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), climate change, and the strategic partnership with a Declaration of Friendship that strengthens and expands the relationship between India and the United States of America.
US President Obama’s address at the Siri Fort auditorium (Photograph Srimal Fernando)
US President Barack Obama concluded his three-day visit to India by addressing a selected gathering at Delhi's Siri Fort Auditorium. During his address at the Siri Fort auditorium Obama said, “I bring the friendship and greetings of the American people. On behalf of myself and Michelle, thank you so much for welcoming us back to India, 'bahut dhanyawad,” which drew massive cheer and applause from the audience.
Invitees from the South Asian University for US President Obama’s address at Siri Fort New Delhi. Pictured (l-r) Sandhya Nair (India ), Nilanjana Sen (India), Ratan Roy (Bangladesh), Srimal Fernando (Sri Lanka ) and Chaminda Padmakumara (Sri Lanka )
He also said, “In India, what we have seen is enormous progress in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but still enormous work has to be done.” His speech at Siri Fort Auditorium drew strong applause. President Obama's visit to India was strategically important and has boosted India-US diplomatic relations.