Obama Moment for India’s youth: American dream still burns bright

It was the ‘Obama Moment’ for India’s young and restless dreamers. Barack Obama knows the power of oratory as he spoke in crisp, luminous sentences infecting the overwhelmingly young audience with his mantra of ‘The Audacity of Hope’ which made him the first black president of the US in a country which only a few decades ago discriminated on the basis of the colour of the skin.
In his parting shot before he wrapped up a three-day historic trip to India, Obama sang a full-throated song of India and spoke about the intertwining of the Indian and American dreams, and what the world’s oldest and largest democracies can do to make the world a safe and secure place in which women are respected, diversity is the way of life and religious tolerance is the clean air you breathe in.
At the town hall-style meeting at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi on a wintry morning, he spoke warmly and eloquently about the promise of India, cited Swami Vikekananda’s famous invocation in his hometown Chicago a century ago as he addressed his audience as “sisters and borthers of India” and injected some robust common sense into what he has called many a time “the defining partnership of the 21st century.”
But what struck a powerful chord with the young audience was his paean to the power of youth and the limitless possibilities of human achievement as embodied in the American dream. “If the grandson of a cook can become president, and the tea seller can become the prime minister, so can young people from the humblest of origins dare to dream big and realise their aspirations,” he said to ringing applause.

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Modi-Obama bonding: The new normal high in India-US relations

First-name bonding, “Barack and I.” Tete-a-tete over tea, “chai pe charcha.” Bear hugs, hand-holding and a walk around the rose garden, “chalein saath saath”. Footfalls echo in the memory… Well, one is not talking about puppy love of besotted lovers, but a tightening embrace of the world’s two largest, engaged democracies in an all-embracing agenda whose reverberations are going to be felt in the years to come.
In Delhi’s deepening chill, sparks flew and lit up a moribund nuclear deal and shone a new path of “shared effort, progress for all,” as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama firmed up an ambitious template for re-igniting the defining partnership of the 21st century and walked the talk to deliver substantive outcomes. The new normal in India-US relations, which was construed to mean habituation to sub-optimal engagement, has morphed into the “new normal high.” The big-ticket outcome of the Modi-Obama summit talks on January 25 was not just the nuclear deal, but the decisive shedding of ambivalence and diffidence, which will lead to the interlocking and intermeshing of the two engaged democracies across the full spectrum of economics and geopolitics.
Talking openly, resolving differences, joking with each other, and smiling naturally. This is the way to go for natural partners, and this hopefully should be the new normal high in the India-US relationship. No time for Mr Modi to lose sleep, the deal is done.

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Obama’s India journey: Pomp, symbolism and mapping next steps

Blending pomp and ceremony with substantive outcomes, US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi promises to “reinvigorate” the multifarious India-US strategic partnership and reinforce the centrality of Washington as “a key partner” of New Delhi in the ongoing transformation of India and its aspiration to play a bigger role on the global stage.
Ahead of the trip, both India and the US have struck an upbeat note. “We see President Obama’s visit as strengthening our ties across the full breadth of our relations – ties between our governments, our peoples and our institutions,” said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of India’s ministry of external affairs, in New Delhi January 22.
Washington is also betting big on Obama’s visit and has underlined multiple advantages for the US in building a closer and multi-faceted relationship. Headline-hunters may be disappointed though; breakthroughs and big-ticket outcomes may not be immediately visible, but the broad paradigm of the India-US has shifted to a point when there is greater comfort and assurance in the relationship so that the two countries can shed the temptations of hype and quietly and incrementally fructify what they have promised to do, and sustain an enduring and mutually empowering partnership.

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Obama visit: India, US to firm up joint defence projects

Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January next year, India and the US will be looking to bolster their defence ties and to firm up joint projects for co-production and co-development of weapons systems. US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Puneet Talwar will be holding wide-ranging interactions with senior officials of India’s defence ministry and foreign office in New Delhi December 1-2. The US delegation comprises senior officials from the State Department, Pentagon and the US Pacific Command.
Mr Talwar is the second Indian-American serving as assistant secretary in the state department after Nisha Desai Biswal, who is US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.
The focus will be on identifying a wide array of projects for co-production and co-development in the defence sector, which fits in with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India’s initiative and his strategic intention to create indigenous defence-military base. Currently, India is among the world’s largest arms importer, with military hardware imports accounting for over 90 per cent of its needs.
The India-US political-military dialogue will seek to firm up deliverables in the defence sector during President Obama’s visit to New Delhi as the guest of honour at the Republic Day parade next year – the first time India has bestowed such an honour on a US president.

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Stage set for Modi-Obama summit in White House

It’s official. The defining partnership of the 21st century is set to get a fresh sparkle when the White House hosts India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his maiden summit with US President Obama in Washington September 30.

Prime Minister Modi will travel to Washington September 29, after a clutch of back-to-back meetings in New York, which includes his maiden address to the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

President Obama will host a private dinner for the Indian leader at the White House on September 29, to which only seniormost figures of his Cabinet will be invited. On September 30, the two leaders will hold full-spectrum talks to reinvigorate the India-US relationship and set fresh benchmarks for fructifying the full potential of this critical strategic partnership. This will be followed by a lunch hosted for Prime Minister Modi by US Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department on September 30.

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