Monday, November 8, 2010

The Pharoh-like Visit to India

The UK Daily Mail opines: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle arrived in India's commercial hub of Mumbai on Saturday, days after voters punished his Democrats in mid-term elections.
Probably not since the days of the Pharaohs or the more ludicrous Roman Emperors has a head of state travelled in such pomp and expensive grandeur as the President of the United States of America.
Hindustan Times opines: Indian politicians are known for making impromptu long speeches and perhaps that is why some parliament officials, who did not wish to be named, sounded rather surprised with the idea of a teleprompter for Obama.
"We thought Obama is a trained orator and skilled in the art of mass address with his continuous eye contact," an official, who did not wish to be identified because of security restrictions, said.
Obama is known to captivate audiences with his one-liners that sound like extempore and his deep gaze. But few in India know that the US president always carries the teleprompter with him wherever he speaks.
The Hindu writes: U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday regretted that the “great religion” of Islam has been distorted by a few extremists to justify violence towards innocent people and called for isolating these elements.
Mr. Obama also said that people will have to fundamentally reject the notion that violence is the way to mediate differences among them.
“I think all of us have to fundamentally reject the notion that violence is the way to mediate our differences,” he added.
The US president expressed these views when a Muslim student A. Ansari lobbed a question asking for his views on ‘jihad” during his interaction with students of St Xavier’s college here.
“I think all of us recognise that this great religion (Islam) in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified,” he said.
Daily New and Analysis of India writes: New Delhi: If wishes were horses, US President Barack Obama would like to take home some of the stately equines at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. (Snip) During his chit-chat with the President, the visiting dignitary praised the PBGs and said in a lighter vein that he wants to take home some camels and horses to the US, enough to bring smiles to the hosts, officials accompanying the VVIPs said. Obama, the sixth US President to visit India, could not let his eyes off the grandeur of Rashtrapati Bhavan and the ceremonial reception presented by the mounted cavalry.
State visits by premiers are a reasonable barometer to gauge the goodwill and intensity of engagement between nations. Plotted on a graph, the Indo-US relationship, with the six presidential visits (including Obama’s next month), would look a bit like the run-rate ‘worm’ chart of a side batting in a one-day cricket match. A sedate yet solid start, followed by long periods of painfully slow scoring during the cold war, and some power-hitting in the slog overs.

In the five decades since independence, up until 2000, US presidents came to India only thrice. In just one decade since, there have been as many, signifying the growing strategic importance of the relationship.

No matter how good the backroom diplomacy is, it’s the chemistry between the two chief executives at the summit that makes or breaks deals. This was evident in the manner in which George Bush and Manmohan Singh inked the landmark civilian nuclear deal in 2006. While Bush was the first US President who well and truly de-hyphenated the country’s relationship with India and Pakistan, and is credited with changing the dynamics of Indo-US engagement, the expectations from Obama’s visit are coated with cautious optimism.

More than a year into office, Obama has sent mixed signals to India. His statements against outsourcing to destinations like India have unnerved the industry and his perceived kid-glove handling of Pakistan grates the strategic and diplomatic community.

But if the first-ever visit of a US President to India, that of Dwight D Eisenhower in 1959, was any indication, it was a start as good as any. Eisenhower spent almost a week in India, and from all accounts, his popularity was immense. “The visit was a huge success,” recalls K Natwar Singh, the former external affairs minister who has also been a high-ranking diplomat. “Unlike these days, there was no security. He travelled in an open car in Delhi, and there seemed to be a million people wherever he went. Most importantly, Nehru and Eisenhower got on very well.”

Eisenhower, a war hero, was hailed in India as the ‘Prince of Peace’. Wherever he went, Eisenhower was genuinely effusive in his praise and admiration for India.

While lesser mortals – the Pope, Queen Elizabeth and so on – are usually happy to let their hosts handle most of the security and transport arrangements when they venture beyond their home shores, the United States creates a mini-America on the move to ensure that nothing is left to chance.
Read more:
And more: To the amazement of the Indians accompanying the U.S. agents, it was apparently decided to erect a bomb-proof over-ground tunnel, which will be installed by U.S. military engineers in just an hour.
The kilometre-long tunnel will measure 12ft by 12ft and will have air-conditioning, close-circuit television cameras, and will be heavily guarded at every point.
It's being built so it is large enough for Mr Obama's cavalcade to pass through and will be manned at its entry and exit points.
The White House will be hoping to secure more than $10 billion in new business for American firms in what is the biggest trade mission in US history.
Mr Obama is bringing 250 U.S. executives including GE chief Jeffrey Immelt and Honeywell's David Cote, which the U.S. India Business Council says is the largest such delegation to ever accompany a president on a foreign visit.
The presidents of six universities, including Georgetown and Duke, are also set to come.
Last fiscal year, India's $11 billion worth of investments in the U.S. matched U.S. investments in India for the first time ever, according to the U.S. India Business Council.
Read more:


  1. Doesn't sound like much of anyone is impressed (at least not in a good way) with our president or his visit to India...

  2. Oh my...does this mean that THE WON is not as popular as we were led to believe ?? We were told that the international community just loved him, as contrasted with how they felt about President Bush....guess they are learning what an arrogant asshole he really is !!