Eloquent Obama gets 25 rounds of applause (Sidelights)

November 8th, 2010 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) US President Barack Obama obviously had the Indian parliament in thrall. For, he received no less than 35 rounds of applause during his 45-minute address Monday.

The loudest cheers probably came when the president backed India’s bid for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat.

The MPs also loved it - and showed as much with thundering claps - when Obama used Indian words like ‘bhahut dhanyavaad’ (thank you) and mentioned Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda in his address.

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No forgetting Gandhi, Vivekanand, Tagore

US President Barack Obama generously sprinkled his speech with quotes and examples from Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekanada, B.R. Ambekdar and Rabindranath Tagore Monday.

Obama, addressing Indian MPs, said he may not have been the president of the US had it not been for Gandhi and his message “to be the change we seek in the world”.

Showering praise on India for its unity in diversity, he said Swami Vivekananda celebrated the richness of faiths. Obama also quoted Nobel laureate Tagore’s poem “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”.

He gave the example of Ambedkar, a Dalit, who “could lift himself up and pen the words of the constitution that protects the rights of all Indians”.

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Obamas stoop - to conquer hearts

The Obamas came, they saw and they conquered the hearts of Indians with their “simplicity” and “humbleness”. As they visited Rahghat Monday, they bowled over staff, including guards at the gates at the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.

Said the guard at the main gate of Rajghat: “I saw him up close and it was impressive to note that he didn’t have any airs like many other important leaders who visit this place do. Both the husband and wife looked like very simple people, they looked genuinely interested in seeing the place and didn’t throw their weight around”.

“The security was of course tight, but when you are the president of the US, that’s inevitable. But their attitude has impressed us.”

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Antony wears his thinking cap?

Others might wear their formal best to high level events, but Defence Minister A.K. Antony prefers to go with his everyday wear. And he didn’t make an exception even at the prime minister’s elaborate private dinner for US President Barack Obama.

Antony retained his traditional attire of a white mundu, but this time he also donned a cap.

“The open air really chills me, so I was wearing my cap,” he said. “I will wear it again at the banquet. It is again in the open air,” Antony added.

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Michelle’s shopping spree

It took the security officials accompanying First Lady Michelle Obama to finally convince her to leave the crafts museum in the capital where she went shopping Monday.

She was so impressed with the array of Indian textiles and arts on offer, that she bought almost everything she came across. She enjoyed her time so much, that instead of spending just one hour at the museum, it was two hours before she exited the gate.

“The security officials had to remind her that she was expected at another engagement!” said a museum official.

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Obama brings head honchos together

It was Barack Obama’s visit that led to a rare public sighting of the elite members of India’s political and corporate world at one event. The top Indian and US business honchos were there at Hyderabad House as part of the CEO’s forum.

So while they waited for the US and Indian leaders for a joint press conference, India’s richest businessman, Mukesh Ambani, was seen in animated talks with Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, while Pepsico chairman Indra Nooyi went over to greet Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

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Obama comes, scribes miss Diwali

At Rashtrapati Bhavan, before US President Barack Obama arrived for the ceremonial welcome, cabinet ministers expressed sympathy with journalists that their Diwali holidays had to be cancelled due to the visit.

“These journalists are complaining that their Diwali holidays have been messed up,” Antony jokingly told a smiling Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as he walked up to the stand for ministers.

“Naturally!” agreed Mukherjee.

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