Saturday, February 23, 2008

Obama promises close ties with India

In an article for the upcoming issue of India Abroad newspaper, Barack Obama explains his vision for close ties between India and the United States.

WASHINGTON: Senator Barack Obama has vowed to build "a close strategic partnership" with India if he wins the Democratic nomination and goes on to win the presidential race in November.

Describing the United States and India as "natural partners", the Democratic front-runner avers that he is looking to strengthen and further the "critical relationship" between the two countries.

"That is why I voted for the US-India nuclear energy deal…And that is why I will move forward to build a close strategic partnership between the United States and India when I am President of the United States," he writes in an article for the upcoming issue of India Abroad, the ethnic Indian weekly published from New York.

As he puts it, "the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy are natural partners, sharing important interests and fundamental democratic values". The two nations now need to "work together to combat the common threats of the 21st century".

"Both countries have been victims of catastrophic terrorist attacks, and we have a shared interest in succeeding in the fight against Al Qaeda and its operational and ideological affiliates," he says.

An ardent admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, whose portrait hangs in his Senate office, Obama writes: "In my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things."

Gandhi, he says, reminds him that "real results will not just come from Washington, they will come from the people". In the article, Obama lauds the thriving Indian-American community in glowing terms for "lifting up our economy and creating jobs".

"Leading entrepreneurs, innovators, lawyers, doctors, engineers, and hardworking professionals are adding to the richness and success of the American society," he notes, adding: "As President, I will reach out to encourage the active engagement and partnership of the vibrant Indian-American community in making the change we seek."

Although his rival Hillary Clinton has traditionally enjoyed far more support from Indian Americans, Obama has in recent months come into his own, attracting substantial numbers, including some prominent members of the community. Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and Kansas Representative Rajiv Goyle are among those who have endorsed Obama.

On the issue of hate crimes worrying sections of the Indian community, notably the Sikhs, since the 9/11 attacks, Obama lamented that "flawed strategies like racial profiling have had a disproportionate effect on Indian Americans".

"Too often, restrictions at our borders have prevented entry for many students and family members who seek nothing more than opportunity and reunification with loved ones," he notes.

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