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'Obama indicated his faith in India's democratic system'

Last updated on: November 10, 2010 20:45 IST

'Obama indicated his faith in India's democratic system'


William Chafe, author of The Rise and Fall of the American Century assesses President Obama's visit in an e-mail interaction with's Archana Masih.

President Obama's trip to India is uniquely appropriate for this moment in his administration. From the beginning, he has spoken as an international figure with a distinctive background.

He spent his childhood years in a predominantly Muslim country, personifies in his own family an awareness of multi-racial influences, and seeks to bring a new message to the world, one of mutual respect and dialogue with cultures different from our own.

By coming to India, the largest democracy in the world, and a symbol of the vital economic growth that is transforming the world economy, he is recognising that the 21st century will be shaped by forces other than those who controlled the 20th century.

The initial focus of Obama's trip on jobs and trade is both helpful to him back home by underlining his concern with the economy, and by showing -- and communicating to Americans -- his awareness of India's importance to America.

Image: President Obama at the townhall meeting with students at St Xavier's College, Mumbai
Photographs: Jim Young/Reuters

'Economic ties and ideological solidarity go hand in hand'

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His candour with the students at the townhall meeting reflects the strengths that got him elected in the first place. He talked frankly about America's security concerns with Pakistan, and about the importance of reconciliation between Pakistan and India to world peace.

Above all, I think he indicated his faith in India's democratic system.

I believe this trip will solidify India's understanding of the new kind of world leadership Obama wishes to achieve, one very different from that of George W Bush.

In the end, economic ties and ideological solidarity go hand in hand.

His endorsement of India having a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council is wise, and an appropriate recognition of India's role in the remainder of the century.

William Chafe is a professor of history at Duke University, USA, and has authored 12 books.

Image: President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters
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