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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

HTLS speaker Barack Obama: Offering hope and healing to people

Former US President Barack Obama is a speaker at HTLS 2017.

htls Updated: Nov 29, 2017 22:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Former US President Barack Obama.
Former US President Barack Obama. (Illustration: Animesh Debnath)

Barack Obama is out of the White House but he is very much in the mindspace of the world. The life of the first African-American president of the United States is best described by the title of his book: The Audacity of Hope. When he was presented the John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Award this year, some noted that Obama was the epitome of Kennedy’s definition of courage – grace under pressure.

He is a man a lot of Americans would have loved to elect as their president for a third term, if it were not for the laws. Born to Kenyan intellectual Barack Obama Sr and American anthropologist Ann Dunham, Obama was brought up in Indonesia and the US – an upbringing that, he wrote, allowed him to “experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect”.

A graduate from Columbia University in New York, he attended Harvard Law School, where he distinguished himself as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review.

Among the highlights of Obama’s first term, which began in 2009, was the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the repeal of the policy that prevented gay people from serving in the military, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and the operation that resulted in the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

His second term was marked by the negotiations that led to the 2015 Paris accord on climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, the breakthrough in diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the “Pivot to Asia” policy that called for a larger role for India in the region.

The former president, 56, now works with the Obama Foundation to offer hope and healing to people and to create a new generation of leaders who can herald change.

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 22:12 IST