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Obama holds Indians in high regard, says his former policy director

world Updated: Jan 30, 2009 09:16 IST
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Relations between India and the US will be very positive and friendly under the Presidency of Barack Obama, who has high regard for Indians, an Indian-American former policy director and "close friend" of the US President said.

"President Obama would develop a very positive and friendly relation with India. He holds Indians and Indian-Americans in very high regard," Raja Krishnamoorthi, Obama's policy director during his US senate campaign, told PTI.

Krishnamoorthi, who currently is the Deputy Treasurer for Policy and Programs in the Illinois State Treasurer's office, has known Obama for the last 10 years and has worked with him as policy director and senior advisor for his US Senate Campaign during 2002-04.

Referring to Indian influence on Obama's life, Krishnamoorthi recalled Obama had portraits of just three leaders in his Senate Office, that of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi.

"Each of the individuals means a great deal to him. They represent how he views not just America but the rest of the world," he said.

Krishnamoorthi was among the select few "family and friends" from the President's hometown to be invited for the Inauguration in Washington on January 20.

In December last year, Krishnamoorthi received an invitation from the Presidential Inaugural Committee to be among friends and family invited to attend the ceremony.

"My wife and I were touched and surprised that we were included in that select group," he said adding while they got tickets to all the inaugural events, "unfortunately we could not use all the tickets. But we attended everything on the inauguration day".

Krishnamoorthi, who has known "intelligent and compassionate" Obama for "a long time and became close personal friends", said they were given a police escort and provided shuttle buses for the inauguration.

"We were 100 yards from the Capitol Hill. It was one of the most moving experiences I have had. The pageantry and historical nature of the event was overwhelming," he said.

The other feeling was of jubilation, regardless of where one came from or whom one had voted for. "Everybody seemed to be unified behind the President".

Later the Krishnamoorthis were also part of the "small group of people" that Obama met after being sworn in as the nation's first African American President.

"He was in extremely high spirits and was very cordial. He asked me about my family and seemed at ease in his new position. I have known him for the past 10 years and he has not changed much," he said.

President Obama would "bring a common touch to his office. He has lived a middle class life through much of his adult life and he and has wife Michelle know the challenges of living and working in the US.

"They would bring those experiences to the White House and use them in steering the country forward," he said.