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Sam Bahadur gets a salute from Obama

US Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama pays glowing tributes to Indian war hero Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Abhishek Sharan reports.
Hindustan Times | By Abhishek Sharan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 02, 2008 02:16 AM IST

The Legend of Sam Bahadur inspires the man who could become the world’s most powerful leader.

US Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama has paid glowing tributes to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the hero of India’s victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan, who passed away five days ago.

Obama’s note, condoling the death, appeared on his official web site,, on Monday. “I offer my deep condolences to the people of India on the passing of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw,” he began in the note. “He was a legendary soldier, a patriot, and an inspiration to his fellow citizens.” Obama added: “Field Marshal Manekshaw provided an example of personal bravery, self-sacrifice, and steadfast devotion to duty that began before India’s independence, and will deservedly be remembered far into the future.”

Obama’s statement is a product of a new India policy team set up two weeks ago within his campaign team. The team, co-chaired by two prominent Indian-Americans Vinod Khosla and Swadesh Chatterjee, includes some 20 Indian-Americans and South Asia experts from Bill Clinton’s administration. A key member of the team and the only Indian-American in Obama’s inner circle is Preeta Bansal, a Harvard Law School colleague of Obama.

“The purpose of the team is to have Obama engage more deeply on South Asia and also reach out to the Indian-American community,” Chatterjee told HT. The team had recommended the statement on Manekshaw.

But there is also a view that it’s not just about votes; the Indian legend is known across the world. Obama, a graduate in law from Harvard University, is likely to have read about the brilliance of Manekshaw in the 1971 war. As a senior Indian military officer put it, Manekshaw’s field tactics in the 1971 war is taught in war colleges across the world as a “masterpiece”.

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