New Delhi, Nov 8, 2010: Expressing ‘bahut dhanyavaad’ to the people of India for their warm reception, US President Barack Obama announced his country’s support to India for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council but added that it will come with conditions like speaking out against Myanmar and imposing sanctions on Iran.
“US welcomes India as it prepares to take its seat at the UN Security Council. I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” he declared to deafening applause, reminding that US had already lent its support to India at G20, Copenhagen Climate Summit etc.
The announcement is seen as a diplomatic gesture although it was clear that the reform of the Security Council is going to be a long and tedious process. With that in mind, Obama pointedly used the expression "in the years ahead".
However, he added, that with increased power came increased responsibility. “US recognises every nation`s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy but they also have international obligations. This applies to Iran also,” he said.
On the issue of Pakistan, he urged an end of terror against India. “The safe havens to terrorists in Pakistan are unacceptable. The perpetrators of Mumbai attacks should be brought to justice,” he said.
"Please accept my deepest thanks...bahut dhanyawad," Obama said in his opening remarks.
“I bring the greetings of from the people of the world’s greatest democracy, the USA. I thank you for the honour of letting me address the Parliament of one billion Indians. Over last three days my wife Michelle and I have experienced the beauty and dynamism of the people of India,” he said, beginning his speech to repeated applause.
Taking forward his tone that India had already risen, Obama said it was not an accident that his India-stay was the longest ever in his career. "I am proud to visit India so early in my presidency," he said.
He said the world’s information age is rooted in Indian work what with the zero being invented here. He invoked Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, Dr BR Ambedkar, Panchtantra and various Indian poets and ancient religious texts etc. to convey how special the place of India is in the world since eternity.
“Gandhiji inspired me to be the change we seek in the world. After making his pilgrimage to India Dr Martin Luther King noted that Gandhi’s philosophy was the only way to make progress in this era,” he said, declaring he might not be standing there as President of the United States had it not been for Gandhi and his message
He acknowledged how after independence at midnight India had launched various schemes like Green Revolution etc to uplift its people from poverty.
“The very idea and strength of India is embrace of all colors, all castes, all creeds….Swami Vivekananda said in Chicago that holiness is not the preserve of any particular religion or church,” he said, lauding the democracy of India where “every voice is heard.”
He acknowledged that relations between India and the US had transformed since the era of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and went on to elucidate on what could be “next” on agenda.
“The interests of US and India are best advanced in a partnership, I believe. The relationship between our countries is unique. Our constitutions begin with the same words: ‘We, the people’. Both our countries are dedicated to the concepts of liberty, justice and equality,” he said.
Obama called for renewed partnership with India in a host of areas ranging from clean energy to farming and crop forecasting to food processing, and said both nations should work together to curb protectionism.
"As global partners, we can promote prosperity in both our countries... Together, we can create the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.
"As G-20 partners, we can make sure the global economic recovery is a strong and durable recovery," he said.
In his address to Members of Parliament, Obama said: "Together, we can resist the protectionism that stifles growth and innovation. The US remains - and will continue to remain - one of the most open economies in the world."
Seeking reciprocity to break trade and investment barriers, Obama said: "By opening markets and reducing barriers to foreign investment, India can realise its full economic potential as well."
On the sticky issue of Doha round of global trade negotiations, he said India and the US can strive for a global trade deal which is ambitious and balanced. However, he said the two countries should show the "courage" to make "compromises".
India and the US are on the opposite sides of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations for a trade opening deal.
"The United States not only welcomes India as a rising power, but fervently supports it," he said. The US President said the two sides can work together as equal partners in a host of areas including climate change, clean energy, agriculture productivity and even research among students, colleges and universities.
He lauded India’s role in Afghanistan and said the US and India could play a vital role in the progress of Asia. In this context, he emphasized on the need to crack down on al-Qaeda on both sides of the Pak-Afghanistan border. He also remembered the role India had played in fighting apartheid in South Africa.
He called upon India and the rest of the world to condemn the atrocities occurring under regimes like the one in Myanmar, urging India not to shy away and that it would not mean interfering in others’ affairs but “standing for universal values.”
The US President said expressed his support to India’s development, saying US will not merely cheer on from the sidelines but help India achieve it all.
Obama ended on a high note as he said “Jai Hind!” and the entire hall stood up in a thunderous response.
He was received warmly at the gates of the Hall by Vice President Hamid Ansari, PM Manmohan Singh, Speaker Meira Kumar among others. From there he was led in a procession amidst applause from the assembled MPs to the spot where the new visitor’s book awaited his remarks. After signing the book, he took his seat on the podium with Ansari, PM Singh and Kumar.
Ansari gave the welcome speech where in he draw parallels between the values shared by America and India. He appreciated Obama’s international peace efforts at controlling nuclear proliferation, adding India itself was a prime promoter of non-prolifertaion.
The Hall saw full attendance of MPs – for the first time.
Obama addressed the two Houses of Parliament`s joint sitting in the Central Hall of Parliament House, which has been given a new look.
Obama read from a teleprompter brought in from the US which made its debut in the Parliament.
After predecessors Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Bill Clinton in 2000, Obama is the fourth US President to address Indian Parliament. Before Obama, former Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed Indian MPs in 2007.
Learning from the embarrassing behaviour displayed by the Indian Members of the Parliament (MPs) during former US President George W Bush visit, the Parliament Affairs ministry had strictly advised the Parliamentarians to behave themselves.
Obamas attend President’s grand banquet
To the strains of Bollywood hit number ’Ye Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge’ (we will not break the friendship), US President Barack Obama on Monday attended a glittering banquet held in his honour by President Pratibha Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Obama, whose maiden visit to India was described as a "historic milestone" by Patil in her banquet speech, and his entourage were treated to a cultural extravaganza at the sprawling lawns of Mughal Gardens before the state dinner at the same venue.
Obama, 49, who was flanked by Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the tastefully decorated table, clinked his glass and raised a toast with the two Indian leaders after the address by the Presidents.
The President thanked the Indian leadership for their "extraordinary expression of friendship" between India and the US.
"I propose a toast knowing that our ties subsist because they are not of iron or steel or even of gold but of silken chords of human spirit," observed Obama, as he said "cheers" looking to Patil and Singh.
The two countries agreed to take the friendship to the next level, agreed to cooperate on energy, agriculture, education and climate.
India’s big gain has been easing of curbs on dual use technologies while Obama bagged big defence deals.
US President Barack Obama concludes his three-day India trip today. The President takes off for Indonesian capital Jakarta a little after 9 on Tuesday morning.