When Modi called Prez by first name

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 26, 2015 02:27 IST

Summits are predictable affairs, with leaders sticking to usual protocol and mentioning each other with the official designations.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi went beyond — and some argue against — protocol on Sunday, when he, more than once referred to the US president, as ‘Barack’ at the joint media appearance.

President Obama, for his part, either referred to his host as either Prime Minister Modi — or Modi.

While former diplomats Hindustan Times spoke to did not wish to come on the record, there were mixed views on Modi’s departure. One school of thought saw it as a mark of personal chemistry, with a former official who has dealt with the Unites States commenting, “They spoke about their personal relationship. Americans are rather informal and like this approach. Referring to the president by first name is refreshing.”

But another former diplomat disagreed and said that it is best to stick to protocol, especially in summits. “At events of this nature, it is best not to sound too casual and respect the office of the counterpart. Do note that the official text of the opening remarks do not include the reference to the first name and instead sticks to calling him President Obama.”

“I’m fairly new in this area but relations between countries depends less on full stops, commas, and more on the personal chemistry between the leaders. I think this chemistry is very important and will only grow,” he said further.

Later in the day, during the joint press conference at Hyderabad House, to a question on their body language, Modi said “Barack” and he have been maintaining contact over phone, and also chat. He said the personal equation between two leaders goes a long way towards bringing two nations and their people together.

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