President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Sunday. New Delhi was his second stop on a three-day visit to the world's largest democracy. Obama sought to reassure India of its importance as a defining partnership for the U.S. in the 21st century.
President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Sunday. New Delhi was his second stop on a three-day visit to the world's largest democracy. Obama sought to reassure India of its importance as a defining partnership for the U.S. in the 21st century. AP
President Obama wrapped up a three-day visit to India, and departs Tuesday for Indonesia, the next stop on his Asia trip.
Obama's stay in India was his longest as president in any foreign country and it offered a little something for everyone. Obama can now boast about increasing exports to India and encouraging more jobs back home. India, meanwhile, got America's seal of approval on its arrival as a world power.
By the time cannon sounded at the official arrival ceremony Monday morning, Obama had already spent two full days in India, meeting with business leaders, holding a video conference with rural farmers, and hosting a town hall meeting with college students in Mumbai.
U.S. With India, 'Shoulder To Shoulder'
In an address to parliament Monday afternoon, Obama said it is no accident he's devoting so much time to building ties with India. He calls this a defining partnership of the 21st century.
"I want every Indian citizen to know, the United States of America will not simply be cheering you on from the sidelines. We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder," Obama said.
India is one of the world's fastest-growing economies. The U.S. hopes to supply more of the airplanes, locomotives and high-tech gadgets it needs.
The president met with a group of Indian entrepreneurs who are buying American technology to provide things like clean drinking water. While he was in India, the administration showcased nearly $10 billion in new U.S. exports to India, enough to support more than 50,000 jobs.
"I want to be able to say to the American people, when they ask me, 'Why are you spending time with India? Aren't they taking our jobs?' I want to be able to say, 'Actually, you know what? They just created 50,000 jobs.' And that's why we shouldn't be resorting to protectionist measures. We shouldn't be thinking that it's just a one-way street," Obama said.
Wins On Both Sides
Some Indians have been wondering if the street runs too much in the United States' direction.
But Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the things that India is buying from the U.S. will only help to foster India's growth.
"The new deals that have been struck, they all happen to be in infrastructure. And infrastructure today is the biggest bottleneck to the faster growth of India, to the faster growth of employment. Therefore, these deals that the president has mentioned are truly an example of trade being a win-win situation," Singh said.
India got something else it wanted from Obama: He announced the U.S. will support India's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a role he says fits the country's newfound status as a world power.
"I don't think India is emerging. It has emerged. India is a key actor on the world stage," Obama said.
White House aides dampened expectations, cautioning that reorganizing the Security Council will be complicated and time-consuming.
But Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor, says Obama is determined to bring more players to the table, just as he lobbied to transfer responsibility for economic cooperation from the elite G-8 group of countries to the larger, more inclusive G-20.
"Shifting from the G-8 to the G-20 isn't just a favor we're doing for the other 12 countries. We need them to play a more responsible role so that they're punching at their weight in terms of dealing with these challenges," Rhodes says.
Lessons From Gandhi
The U.S. and India have agreed to cooperate in a wide variety of areas, from fighting terrorism to global economic development.
Obama says the world's two biggest democracies also have a responsibility to champion democracy and human rights around the world. He pointed to the example Gandhi set, which helped inspire the American civil rights movement. During this trip, Obama visited a house where Gandhi lived and scattered flower petals on the spot where he was cremated.
"I'm mindful that I might not be standing before you today as president of the United States had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared and inspired with America and the world," Obama said.
Speaking to Indian college students a few days after the U.S. midterm elections, Obama said he's learned something else from Gandhi: That on this journey you're going to experience setbacks, and you have to be persistent and stubborn.