Sisters and brothers of India: Obama invokes Vivekananda

  • Agencies
  • Updated: Jan 27, 2015 16:40 IST

"Sisters and brothers of India", is how US President Barack Obama addressed the town hall meeting at the Siri Fort auditorium in New Delhi on Tuesday, stressing that the ties between the two countries can be the "defining partnership of the century".

Before a gathering largely comprising young people, students, NGOs and diplomats, Obama said: "I believe that the relationship between India and the US can become the defining partnership of the century".

He said he is "optimistic of the future" of the two countries and added that he is proud to be India's partner, "proud to be your friend".

Obama recalled Swami Vivekananda and his speech in Chicago where he addressed the gathering as "Sisters and brothers of America" and said he is going to address the audience likewise, and said "Sisters and brothers of India", and repeated it again in the middle of the speech.

The US president struck a personal chord with the mainly youthful crowd, saying he was very impressed with the daredevilry of the motorcycle contingent riding Royal Enfield bikes and wished he could ride a bike too.

"But the Secret Service does not let me ride motor cycles", and also remarked that he cannot dance as well as his wife Michelle.

Obama also touched on human rights and the important role of women in building homes, societies. "We must work for a society where everybody has a chance, everybody who can work, and that includes our women," he said.

He mentioned Michelle again when he said:"I am married to a very strong and talented women, Michelle is not afraid to speak her mind to me."

He also said he was happy to see so many women commanding contingents in the Republic Day parade and specially mentioned the woman who commanded the guard of honour accorded to him at Rashtrapati Bhavan Jan 25.

Obama recounted how in his last visit he had visited the Humayun's Tomb and met the families of some labourers working there.

The little son of one of them, Vishal, is today a 16-year old, he said, and added he was happy to note that Vishal today studies and dreams of joining the armed forces "an example of the talent that is here".

The teenager and his family were in the auditorium.

Ahead of his speech, Obama and his wife met Nobel Peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi at the auditorium as well as some of the NGOs.

Republican leader lauds Obama visit

Obama's visit has got the thumbs up from at least one senior Republican leader who has said that progress is being made towards achieving the full potential of India-US ties.

"I am encouraged by the news over the weekend that the US and India have taken further steps to deepen our strategic partnership, including clearing the way to achieve the benefits of the 2006 civil nuclear agreement and expanding our defense cooperation," Senator John McCain said.

McCain, Chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, said he is looking forward to reviewing the details of these agreements.

"I am pleased that progress is being made toward achieving the full potential of the US-India relationship," said McCain, who was among the first few American leaders to have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he was voted to power in the May general elections.

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