New Delhi: ‘Namaste,’ said US President Barack Obama and also ‘bahut dhanyawad’ as he began a Townhall-style meeting at Delhi’s Siri Fort auditorium on Tuesday afternoon, which marks the end of his three-day visit to India.
Obama was addressing around 2,000 young Indians. The crowd cheered when US President borrowed a Shah Rukh Khan dialogue from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge – “Senorita…bade bade deshon mein…you know what I mean,” said the President with a smile.
Obama said India’s youth and their idealism fill me with hope.
“India and the US could have a defining partnership. The world will be better if we stand together.”
President further hailed a new chapter in Indo-US relations, saying, “I believe America can be India’s best partner”.
Obama made strong comments promoting religious tolerance, saying, “India will succeed as long as it’s not splintered along religious lines.”
India would succeed, he added, “so long as all Indian go to the movies and applaud an actor like Shah Rukh Khan or an athlete like Milkha Singh.”
President Barack Obama gently nudged India to fulfil its constitution’s pledge to uphold the “dignity of the individual,” drawing on his own experience as a minority in the United States.
Obama said that while he has had extraordinary opportunities, “there were moments in my life where I’ve been treated differently because of the colour of my skin.” As he touted the importance of religious tolerance, he noted the persistent false rumours that he is a Muslim, not a Christian.
“There have been times where my faith has at times been questioned by people who don’t know me, or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing,” Obama said.
“Every person has the right to practice their religion and beliefs and not practice if they choose so without any persecution. No society is immune from the darkest impulses of men and too often religion has been used to tap into those instead of the light of God. The peace we seek in the world begins in human hearts.”
“Every woman should be able to go about her day — to walk the street, or ride the bus — and be safe and be treated with the respect and dignity that she deserves,” Obama said to applause.
Since taking office, Modi has often talked about women’s rights, urging Indians to treat sons and daughters equally. He recently launched an “educate the daughter, save the daughter,” program to stem sex selective abortions and encourage parents to keep girls in schools.
Obama also met Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi. At 1.30 pm, US President and his wife Michelle Obama will board Air Force One at the Delhi airport.
Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have recorded a joined radio address – Mann ki Batt, which will be aired today evening.
Initially scheduled to travel to Agra to see the Taj Mahal with First Lady Michelle Obama, the visiting dignitaries were forced to cut short their trip after the demise of Saudi Arabia ruler King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
On his way back to US, Obama shall be stopping at Riyadh to offer condolences to King Abdullah’s successor, King Salman.
Talking about shared values of the world’s largest democracies, President Obama once again mentioned how he was impressed with the motorcycle stunt riders at the Republic Day parade on Monday where he was chief guest.
BSF bikers stole the show with their daredevil stunts during the 66th Republic Day celebrations. The bikers, with their meticulous positions and mid-air formations, impressed chief guest Barack Obama, who in return gave them a thumbs up.
At the India-US Business Summit, Obama had said ‘I don’t think I’ll ever ride a motorbike. Especially after seeing the stunts in the morning’.