Obama: An Esteemed Guest Who Wasn’t?

Much was being talked about, when US President Obama accepted Modi’s invitation to visit India during the Republic Day parade. The bonhomie that was carried into the event was even more amazing. PM Modi almost broke every possible protocol to make the President and his wife Michelle feel at home. On the day of the event, and even during prior meetings, Obama and Modi seemed to have shared a great bonding. Speaking together at the radio programme ‘Mann ki baat’, that Modi usually addresses alone, Obama and Modi spoke of different things that mattered to both countries.

Things seemed on a great pedestal when the hugs followed. The greatest show was put up for India’s esteemed guest who had made some kind of history when he came to India twice during his term as American President. More bonhomie was awaited, for sure.

But, what followed was nothing less than discouragement and disappointment. A diplomatic gesture had just turned upside down. The red carpet was rolled back and somewhat tepid smell began to emanate from the corners of this diplomacy.

Signs were clear when Obama delivered his address at Siri Fort and said something that should have got the alarm bells ringing. It was dismissed as a casual caution which was being issued by an international leader who was commenting on the general trend where terrorism was getting the name of a faith or religion. But, no, that wasn’t. Obama sent out his message loud and clear. India will stay strong as long as it is not splintered on religious lines.

And what followed was even more concerning. At his National Prayer Breakfast Meeting in Washington recently, Obama said ‘religious intolerance in India would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi’. He had a thing or two to say about Christianity too, where horrendous things were done in the name of Jesus Christ. This must have brought some embarrassment to Dalai Lama, who was also present on the occasion. After all, he lives in India and has taken political refuge at various settlements in India during the Chinese aggression period decades ago. He still lives in Dharmasala and regularly meets political leaders from across the world there.

However, the damage was done. India got irritated with Obama’s words and carefully crafted response was conveyed. Religious leaders took to twitter and social networking sites and also vented their ire. India knew religious tolerance better than the gun-cultured US. Wonder what Martin Luther King Jr would have had to say about today’s America.

Indeed it was somewhat an uncalled comment from the most powerful man, presumably. The churches getting vandalised and masjids being attacked weren’t incidents that happened regularly in the country. In southern-most the state of Kerala, where Christians are high in number and so is the highest level of tolerance; things were on a peaceful stead. Incidents that happened in Delhi or elsewhere didn’t mean only Christians were being targeted or just the Muslims were the subject of all this religious intolerance. This is no justification to saying such incidents were okay, but to understand that such incidents didn’t create an atmosphere of fear and morbidity for communities is something worth noting. After all, how many Hindus can live without having to hide their identity in Pakistan?

And, did Obama send out any stern warning to Pakistan on having oppressed the lives of Hindus? He, in turn, granted a handsome amount of military aid to Pakistan and told China, they didn’t have to fret about the newfound bonhomie with India. Now, you figure the rest.

Add Comment()
Comments ()
Sort By:
Be the first one to comment.
We have sent you a verification email. This comment will be published once verification is done.