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HTLS 2017: Barack Obama says Modi, Manmohan have shown political courage to solve global problems

Speaking on Day 2 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, former US president Barack Obama said he believes PM Narendra Modi firmly believes unity is necessary for the progress of the nation.

htls Updated: Dec 01, 2017 22:26 IST
Nisheeth Upadhyay
Nisheeth Upadhyay
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Barack Obama,Hindustan Times Leadership Summit,HT Leadership Summit 2017
Former US president Barack Obama in conversation with Karan Thapar, president, Infotainment Television, at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday. (Kunal Patil/HT )

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a vision for India and he is modernising the bureaucracy in the country, former US president Barack Obama said on Friday, as he talked about his relationship with the Indian leader and the shared democratic values between the two countries. (Barack Obama session highlights)

Speaking at the 15th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Obama said the ties between the countries were strengthened by people-to-people contact.

“India and the US have thrown off the yoke of colonialism and have drafted constitutions that begin with same three words: ‘We the people’,” said Obama, who also reminded the audience that he was the only US president to visit India twice.

Talking about his relationship with Modi, with whom he shared a good equation, he said the Indian PM and his predecessor Manmohan Singh had shown “political courage” when it came to global issues such as the economic slowdown across the world in 2008 and the Paris climate accord in 2016.

He liked Modi, Obama said and added he “was also great friends with Dr Singh” who “launched the foundation for the modern Indian economy”.

Modi and Obama, who met nine times, appeared to develop a good working relationship when the 56-year-old was in White House. The famous bear hug that Modi pulled Obama into in 2015 on his arrival in Delhi and images of the two leaders smiling and chatting reflected the easy camaraderie the two shared.

Making his case for a multilateral world, Obama praised Modi for his efforts in sealing the Paris accord. “PM Modi was the primary partner during making of Paris accord,” the 44th US president said.

“I appreciated the critical role PM Modi and India played in forging the Paris climate deal.”

The former president also talked about multiculturalism, which he said was another common bond between the US and India. He stressed on tolerance and warned that “the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is dangerous and can wreak havoc on us all”.

“For a country like India where there is a Muslim population that is successful, integrated and considers itself as Indian, which is not the case in some other countries, this should be nourished and cultivated,” he said.

“I think his (Modi’s) impulses are to recognise the Indian unity. I think he firmly believes unity is necessary for the progress of the nation.”

First Published: Dec 01, 2017 13:57 IST