Obama’s parting remark irks Indians

  • Calls for religious tolerance
  • Tells Indians to respect all religions
  • Obama leaves after a wonderful 3-day visit

New Delhi, January 27: US president Barack Obama has ended his historic visit with an unexpected twist which kept the Indian media debating for hours after he left the  place about what really was his ‘man ki baat’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Obama participated in a joint radio address-Man Ki Baat-in which Obama called for freedom of faith. Obama and his wife Michelle boarded the Air Force One at Palem airport here on Tuesday wrapping up his three-day Indian visit to travel to Saudi Arabia, their next destination.  Narendra Modi wished safe journey and Obama promised to come back to India.

The US president may be indirectly referring to the Ghar Wapsi movement undertaken by the Hindutva forces in the country after the NDA government was established. Obama referred to the concerned article in the Indian Constitution that ensures freedom of faith. It was considered a broadside on the government giving room to a controversy at the time of departure.

Though the supporters of Modi and NDA say Obama was speaking in his capacity as friend, guide and philosopher telling the people of India that they have travelled thus far only because they could maintain the religious harmony over the decades. But American presidents don’t speak without adequate deliberation and due calibration. They are known to be blunt when it comes to conveying their views on core values like democracy and freedom. Saying that India and the US share common values since they are open societies, Obama commented that India would succeed as long as it is not splintered along religious lines. Though a sane advice at normal times, coming at the end of a much hyped visit it sounded rather caustic.

It was also noted by commentators that although Modi referred to Obama as Barack several times in the trip, Obama did not say Narendra or Narendra Bhai even once. Some said Modi was overplaying his intimacy with the US guest.

But for this small secular pitch, Obama’s visit was a magnificent success and it elevated the relationship between the two largest democracies in the world to an altogether new level. Obama was the first US president to participate in Indian Republic Day parade and the first to visit India twice during his tenure.

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