India on Obama’s mind — more of sweet talk but less of action


New Delhi: India has been on US President Barack Obama’s mind since his senatorial days. Be it the contentious issue of outsourcing or the “wonderful” Prime Minister Man-mohan Singh or his “hero” Mahatma Gandhi, here’s what Obama — who will visit India during November 6-9 — has been saying about the country:

On the US-India

“The world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy are natural partners, sharing important interests and fundamental democratic values…. In other words, the United States values our partnership not because of where India is on a map, but because of what we share and where we can go together. India is indispensable to the future that we seek — a future of security and prosperity for all nations,” Obama said in his address at the reception hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in honor of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna June 3, 2010.

“Our nations are two global leaders, driven not to dominate other nations, but to build a future of security and prosperity for all nations,” Obama said at the welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at White House November 24, 2009.

On Manmohan Singh
“First of all I should say that your Prime Minister is a wonderful man. He is a wise and decent man,” Obama said on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in London April 3, 2009.

“I can tell you that here at G-20, when the Prime Minister speaks, people listen,” he said in Toronto on June 28, 2010, on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting.

On India-US nuclear deal
“I voted for the US-India nuclear agreement because India is a strong democracy and a natural strategic partner for the US in the 21st century,” Obama said in an interview as a senator to Outlook magazine in July 2008.

“We welcome the announcement of setting up of this center in India,” stated President Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit about India’s initiative to set up a global centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership.

On Kashmir
“We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they (Pakistan) can stay focused  not on India, but on the situation with those militants,” Obama said in an interview to MSNBC in November 2008.

On Mahatma Gandhi
“The America of today has its roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi and the non-violent social action movement for Indian independence which he led,” said Obama’s message on the birth anniversary of Gandhi in October 2009.

In an answer to a question by a ninth grader whom he would like to have dinner with, Obama said in November 2009: “I think it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine… he’s somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in… it would probably be a really small meal because he didn’t eat a lot.”

On terrorism
“Both countries have been victims of catastrophic terrorist attacks and we have a shared interest in succeeding in the fight against Al Qaeda and its operational and ideological affiliates,” Obama said in an article written as a Democratic presidential candidate in February 2008.

On outsourcing
“It’s a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York,” Obama said while announcing a revision of the taxation system in May 2009.

“One of the keys to job creation is to encourage companies to invest more in the US. But for years, our tax code has actually given billions of dollars in tax breaks that encourage companies to create jobs and profits in other countries… I want to change that. Instead of tax loopholes that incentives investment in overseas jobs, I’m proposing a more generous, permanent extension of the tax credit  that goes to companies for all the research and innovation they do right here in America,” Obama said in a speech at Ohio in September 2010.

On miscellaneous topics
“At a time when other countries are competing with us like never before, when students around the world in Beijing, China, or Bangalore, India, are working harder than ever, and doing better than ever, your success in school is not just going to determine your success, it’s going to determine America’s success in the 21st century,” Obama told students at a school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in September 2006.

Obama said at the India-US strategic dialogue in June 2010: “Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton, I think as you may be aware, is a great admirer of India, and I know the sentiment is shared in return. In fact, I’m told that one of the secretary’s favorite restaurants in Delhi added a new item to the menu — the Hillary Platter. This is true. What does it have — chapati?”

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