He said all that needed to be said in Delhi Town Hall
Barrack Hasuain Obama—US President on his second visit to India said all that needed to be said in Delhi Town Hall, his audience young and vibrant—the generation next of India.
Though, what he did say might not have sounded music to some sick, sclerosed minds of aging generation, weaving hatred. The minds that rate humans as ‘Maal’ a trading commodity that had been, as perceived, snatched and needed to be traded back with interest. Obama said what PM Modi should have said loud and clear. However, he did not for seven long months as conversion [nay reversion] agendas was laid bare by Sangh Parivar outfits. Obama reminded the new power dispensing of a constitution to safeguard—Article 25 in particular that guarantees freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. Propagation of religion may not however amount to coercion. Or to weigh granting of rights with subscribing to cultural nationalism. Obama by the tone and tenor of his speech made clear that world is watching. India and America might have shared values, as Obama emphasized, they have shared responsibilities too. While taking note of Article 25, Obama talked of first amendment of American constitution.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to a peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights. Obama, while relating Article 25 to the First Amendment was emphasizing the role of the state in safeguarding the constitution. As, also of the citizenry in general, a clear indicator that he remains tuned to what has been happening in India, ever since the new dispensing took over. The new dispensing that has many a non-state player weighing on the power equation—the Nagpur lot, Praveen Togadia’s, Ashok Senghal’s, and many others sprouting venom. Obama’s message thus was not restricted to state players, non-state actors formed a part of Obama discourse. American President must not have remained oblivious of a petition in USA calling into question what RSS is up to. Modi might be calling Obama on first name terms—Barrack, hyping up the bonhomie. However files in State Department stay with the records that the man their President was doing business with in New Delhi was denied US visa not long time ago.
President Obama did talk of America standing by India in acquiring high seat in UN—permeant membership in a reformed Security Council. Incumbent in the support remains regional role of India that Obama did not shy from relating, by emphasizing that with power comes responsibility. He might not have talked of Kashmir, he didn’t, careful of sensitivities of his hosts. However, in relating the regional role, Obama did make a veiled reference to carrying the region along. America is not a super-power without basis. Ever-since the end of Second World War, and very much in the midst of it, America assumed that role by carrying European power along with it. Britain on the other side of channel as well, a power that surrounded the world leadership role. The dynamics of international power politics has to be comprehended before asking for the high seat.
American global role took off from trans-Atlantic alliance, later widened to trans-Pacific alliance. India has lot of pending work in South Asia, before it relates to trans-oceanic relationships’ and emerges as a regional player, ready to play a global role. On and off relationship with Pakistan, with Sri Lanka, even Nepal is not encouraging. Even in Afghanistan, where India invested in men and material, India stays off the regional and global tables, whenever Afghanistan is discussed. That may not be diplomatically a happy augury, India is too big a country to be neglected in regional power equations. However, in a power equation that is worked-up to put others in a disadvantageous position, the resultant contention does not end in holistic embrace of stakeholders. India continues to stay off its projected three ‘T’s’ Trade, Tariff and Transit. Ideal though for regional growth, the projection does not account for other equations. India needs to walk the talk. And loop in the concerns of others. Major Powers need to walk the extra mile, they have major inherent responsibilities, India needs to relate to, in order to fulfil regional role and aspire for a global role. Resolution of ‘K’ dispute remains inherent to working out stable regional power equation.
President Obama talked of global warming, energy and ecology, of developing cleaner sources of energy—solar, wind, of safety and role of women, subjects we may take up in another column, as these subjects concern us, as much as other parts of globe. Perhaps much more, as we live in an ecologically fragile area of the planet.
India has her work cut-out, Obama in his Delhi Town Hall Address related to it by bringing in ‘Home Truths’. India would do well to listen to a friend, who spoke his heart out.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]