Barack Obama who became immensely popular after being elected as the first black President of the United States of America is all set to visit India on the 6th of November. In the hall of the State Department Obama declared to the audience that during his state visit Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh invited him along with his family to come to India. Although the official schedule of the president has not been revealed as yet, it is likely that Obama will land in Mumbai on the 6th and leave New Delhi on the 9th of November. If this statement is to be believed it would be the second-longest stay of a US president in India after Bill Clinton’s stay for five days.
The below the schedule of Obama’s visit to India is as per the recent clip from the Times of India newspaper dated Oct 29, 2010. The clip can be viewed online in the US, India paper over differences on Headley, nuke issues – Obama in INDIA.
Barack Obama is expected to reach Mumbai in the early hours of 6th November and reside at the Taj Hotel booked completely for him. Giving a counter-terrorism speech will be his first move of the day following which he will meet some of the victims of the 26/11 incident. The next thing in his itinerary is a visit to the Gandhi Museum where he will pay respect to Mahatma Gandhi and remember his inspiration to Martin Luther King. By afternoon the President will be ready to address the FCCI where several agreements will be signed. This would be of importance given aspects like food security against the background of climatic changes impacting the two countries. The speech is also likely to include issues like adding jobs for the Americans after which a round table conference of the Indo-US CEO’s forum is scheduled to take place. After the completion of this event, Obama will retire for the day at Taj.
At sunrise on the 7th of November Obama is scheduled to visit a local school where he will celebrate Diwali although these celebrations will not include the burning of crackers. After experiencing the Indian culture with the children Obama will head to St Xaviers college for a town hall event with the young people. Agriculture and food security, democracy, and fundamental ideas that bind India and the US are the topics that will be discussed here. On the same day, he will head to Delhi in the afternoon where he will first visit the Humayun’s Tomb to witness India’s rich tradition. This visit will be followed by a private dinner with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in the evening.
The 8th of November will have Obama visiting the Rajghat and laying a wreath following which he will receive a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Here discussions will be held with the Indian Prime Minister after which a press conference will take place. Later in the day Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, and some the cabinet ministers will call upon the US president and the day will come to an end with a state banquet. The next day Obama will head to Jakarta ending his tour in India.
The reasons behind this official visit rage from an attempt to maintain world peace to discussions of the Nuclear Deal. When asked about the purpose of the visit the American president said “So when it comes to the sphere of our work, building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity, and security for our people, there is no doubt; I have to go India. But even more, I am proud to go to India, and I look forward to the history that we will make together, the progress that will be treasured not just by this generation but by generations to come.”[www.thehindu.com] This statement indicates the benefits both the countries are to get by Obama’s future visit. Experts also have a similar opinion about this issue. This is what Meera Shankar the Indian Ambassador to the US had to say when asked for her opinion “We are confident that the visit would take our relationship to the next level and demonstrate how the two countries are working together to find solutions to the pressing global challenges of the day and for promotion of peace and stability in Asia and beyond”.
Recently speaking at a media briefing the spokesman P J Crawley he was expecting “deliverables’’ which are usually the result of presidential travel to crucial countries. Looks like everyone has high expectations from Obama’s first presidential visit to India. In his mentions of his visit to India the president was all praises for the country. Sometimes he called it a ‘’rising power and a responsible global power’’ and at other times he quoted from an eminent Europian scholar who said “Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for your special study, whether it be language or religion or mythology or philosophy, whether it be law or customs, primitive art, or science, you have to go to India, because,” he said, “some of the most valuable and instructive material of the history of man are treasured up in India, and India only”[ www.thehindu.com]. On another occasion, Obama said “The relationship between the United States and India is fundamentally unique. We share common interests, but we also share common values, as the world’s two largest democracies, and as countries that are rich in diversity.”[www.bbc.co.uk] He also went on to describe the nation as one of the 21st century’s centers of influence.
Foreign Minister MS Krishna also mentioned a possible decision to deepen cooperation on trade and to liberalize US export controls applying to India. Among these positives are certain thorny issues like the Kashmir issue which has been smoldering following the recent clashes in the valley, outsourcing jobs to India, and others alike.
The positive predictions seem to be an indication towards a healthier relation the two countries are going to enter in the near future. And if everything goes well, who knows? This could be a drastic step which will decide the fate of both the countries!