Obama in India – what worked well, what didn’t!

Joint press address was a Farce

As Day 1 of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India is being wrapped up there is a lot of extravagant harping on it. Understandably so!

I watched it being covered live on Indian TV channels ow, NDTV, Times Now and News 18 India — the only Indian news channels available in Singapore.

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Much is being said about the breakthrough in civil nuclear cooperation, but I will just limit my comments to the joint press address by the two leaders.

Only two questions from the media were allowed — one was from a foreign journalist and the other from an Indian who started in English and moved to Hindi.

It looked like a staged one with the foreign journalist’s question giving Mr Obama the opportunity to slam Russia.

The Indian’s question was silly – on what the two discussed, needlessly asked in Hindi when he was comfortable in English. Clearly the journalists were hand-picked.

Hindi Could Have Been Avoided: I thought Mr Modi need not have broken into Hindi when taking the question, particularly because he was speaking reasonably well in English.

The translator started without explaining what the question was. When reminded, she translated the question. It did not look very professional.

An event of this nature called for better preparations.

Mr Modi saying that his personal chemistry with Mr Obama had led to better ties between the two countries betrayed some puerile enthusiasm.

It was almost rebutted by Mr Obama who clarified that the relationship went beyond the good vibes the two shared and factored in the wishes of the peoples of the world’s two largest democracies.

Beyond that, I must say thumbs for Mr Modi breaking protocol to receive Mr Obama at the airport. Perhaps he could have escorted the US President to Rajghat as well, a point Marouf brought up on Times Now. Mr Obama had done so when the two visited the Martin Luther King memorial

Photo Credit: The photo where Indian Prime Minister Modi is flanked by Mr Barack Obama and the US First Lady was taken from the Internet

G Joslin Vethakumar

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