Obama Speaks Directly to the Indian People at Siri Fort

#ObamainIndia has provided a treasure trove of multimedia, and we will keep publishing videos and other content on this page from the three days.  The trip was a watershed moment in US-India relations, and in the days to come we’ll expound on why.

Many people around the world know that Barack Obama is a gifted public speaker.  His flowery oratory is admired around the world by fans, and resented by detractors, in both cases for its lilting power.

This week we witnessed something truly unique: a speech directed at the Indian people during his trip to New Delhi, and especially focused on India’s youth.  Without an ounce of exaggeration or condescension, I can state that Obama spoke to the Indian audience about the emerging nation’s strengths – and also weaknesses – better than any other American leader or even Indian leader is capable of doing.  Some highlights of this speech, which I highly recommend you should watch all the way through:

1) Obama said the United States can be India’s “best partner.”   He said when Indians and Americans look at each other, it’s like looking in a mirror.

2) At times it felt like he was speaking to citizens of his own country.

3) Without touching on India’s gang-rape epidemic or chauvinism directly, he spoke firmly about women’s rights.

4) He constantly self-deprecated, mouthed phrases in Hindi, or at times both to great applause.  He spoke of his age, and about the future long after he is gone in a way most American politicians abroad never do.

5) He reiterated the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons in all nations.

6) Most importantly of all, he spoke to Indians in an adult manner about sectarian discord while even acknowledging that his own country had problems in this regard, including against himself, and against Indian-Americans.

Obama’s ability to combine humor, empathy, gratitude, and deadly serious topics in the speech easily makes it among his best  speeches ever.

Want proof of its effectiveness?  India’s messy democracy, led by politicians and a free media immediately erupted into debate about many aspects of what Obama brought up.  There can be no better bellwether than that.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor 

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