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Jamia convocation on Jan 19, PM Modi expresses inability to attend

“Degrees/Diplomas will be awarded to those candidates who have passed their examinations in the year 2014. Medals will also be given to the toppers of the same year. PhD scholars whose results have been notified up to November 30, 2015 will also be awarded degrees,” it added.


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US President Barack Obama most popular leader in world, PM Modi stands 7th: Survey


Modi evoked a favourable view from 24 % of people polled throughout 65 countries around the world as opposed to 20 % unfavourable, giving him a score of +4 % in the WIN/Gallup survey for ORB International’s ‘International World Leader Index’.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been voted as the seventh most popular leader in the world in a new poll topped by US President Barack Obama. Modi evoked a favourable view from 24 % of people polled throughout 65 countries around the world as opposed to 20 % unfavourable, giving him a score of +4 % in the WIN/Gallup survey for ORB International’s ‘International World Leader Index’.Modi was however beaten by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was named the sixth most popular leader but had a higher unfavourable score than the Indian leader — 30 %. Obama grabbed the topmost spot with a score of +30 % with a whopping 59 % in his favour and 29 % unfavourable.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”President Obama is significantly more admired around the world than anyone else,” the survey said.Obama is followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (+13 %) with British Prime Minister David Cameron completing the top three with a score of +10 %. Cameron scored a 37 % favourable rating while another 28 % viewed him unfavourably.People in South Asia were the most friendly to the British leader, with 53 % saying they viewed him favourably and just 12 % saying they viewed him unfavourably. He was also popular in the rest of Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, where 44 % of people viewed Cameron favourably.The other leaders that made it to the top 10 include French President Francois Hollande (4th), Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (5th), Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (8th), Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud (9th) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (10th).

Obama, Modi have strong, productive relationship: US official


“It was a quite extraordinary fact that within the space of four months there were two head of the state visits, one first to the United States in September of 2014 and then Prime Minister Modi invited the President to India just four months later in January,” the official said.

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have developed a strong and productive relationship between them, a top American climate change official has said.”President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have a very, strong and productive relationship, not just on climate change but broadly,” Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change said yesterday.”It was a quite extraordinary fact that within the space of four months there were two head of the state visits, one first to the United States in September of 2014 and then Prime Minister Modi invited the President to India just four months later in January,” the official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thereafter the two leaders have been close communications with each other. “They met on the margins of the UNGA in New York and they met on the first day of the Paris meeting,” Stern said.According to Stern the meeting was a very warm and positive, cordial and detailed.”In fact, they talked so long that they were both supposed to go and did go finally, but they were a little bit late to the announcement of this big Mission Innovation idea on R&D that both well, the United States, India, China, many other countries ultimately were part of,” the US official said.”So I think, that the call later, sort of more towards the end, was a check-in call to see how we were doing and to urge us all on together toward a successful conclusion. And I think it was done in that spirit, not in the spirit that there was some specific thing that had to be done before the agreement could get completed,” Stern said.

US assures Sikh community of safety and security

Over 125 Sikhs from all over the country joined the White House celebrations, a regular feature of the Obama Administration.

Representational Image

The US has assured Sikh community of their safety and security in the wake of a spur in hate crimes against the community following a shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14 people. “President Obama stands with, he stands behind you and he stands in solidarity with you. And we all have a responsibility to remind Americans what makes us great,” Valerie Jarrett, Senior political advisor to the US President told a gathering of Sikhs at a White House celebration of Guru Nanak’s birth-anniversary on Monday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Over 125 Sikhs from all over the country joined the White House celebrations, a regular feature of the Obama Administration. The programme included a Sikh hymn on classical instruments like Taus, Dilruba and Jodi performed by Manpreet Singh and Raghubir Singh from New Jersey. The Keynote address was given by Professor Amritjit Singh of Ohio University and discussed about “Guru Nanak: Equality and Social Justice”. Welcoming Sikhs to the White House, Jarrett hoped that they would feel at home at the White House. “You are part of such a vital member of our community and a big and vibrant part of what makes our country so great. So when your community comes under attack, we are all in danger,” she said. “When your place of worship is vandalised, or temples churches and mosques should be uneasy as well. It is in times like these when we should step back and need to focus on the teachings of Guru Nanak,” Jarrett said. “For when we focus on the values that bring us together as a nation, we can accomplish so much more than we are divided,” she said. Welcoming the assurance from the White House, Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said this sends an assuring signal to the entire community that this nation stands behind it. “President Obama gesture to hold Guru Nanak’s gurpurab every year at the White House displays his love for the community,” he said. The American-Sikh community, numbering nearly half-a- million, has seen a spur in hate-crimes against them after a Pakistani-origin couple who federal officials say were inspired by Islamist extremists opened indiscriminate firing on December 2 at a holiday luncheon and killed 14 people. Last week, a Sikh temple in California was vandalised and a group of Sikh men were harassed by security staff and denied access to a stadium in San Diego city in California for an American football game because they were wearing turbans. Earlier in 2012, a white supremacist has opened fire at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, killing six people.

Obama wishes Modi on Diwali

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday night called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to greet him on Diwali and they agreed to meet in Turkey on the sidelines of the G20 Summit to be held early next week.”A short while ago @POTUS (President of the United States) called. We exchanged Diwali greetings. This was our first conversation through the newly-established hotline,” Modi tweeted. “President Obama & I look forward to meeting in Turkey during the G20 Summit,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi said President Obama and he “discussed a wide range of other issues as well. It was good knowing how @WhiteHouse is marking Diwali.” After his visit to the United Kingdom beginning on November 12, Modi will travel to Turkey to attend the G20 Summit to be held on November 15-16.The Summit is being held at a critical juncture after the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals agenda at the United Nations and ahead of the climate change Summit in Paris on November 30 to December 1. “During the Summit (in Turkey), we will review the progress on decisions taken at the Brisbane Summit and take up issues of climate change, terrorism, refugees, weak growth in global economy, strategies for growth and employment, investment strategies, trade, energy and financial sector resilience,” the Prime Minister had said in a Twitter post a few days ago.

dna Must Reads for evening: Aarushi murder case, Barack Obama, Shahid Kapoor & more

Here are 5 top stories on at 6pm.

The following quick read will take you through stories that are making news right now. ​1) After a book and movie came out questioning CBI’s action in the Aarushi Talwar murder case, CBI puts all court orders on its website​The 210-page exhaustive order by the then special judge Shyam Lal has gone into arguments of defence as well prosecution for nearly a year before the dentist couple were sentenced for life for the crimes.​ Read our full report here: Aarushi Talwar murder case: CBI puts all court orders on its website<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Delhi government to soon install CCTV cameras, tweets Arvind KejriwalDelhi government has asked the PWD to light up ‘dark spots’ across the capital and decided to bring a proposal to install CCTV cameras soon, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday. Read more here.3) Barack Obama surprises couple at their wedding!While visiting California, President Obama enjoyed a round of golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, where Stephanie and Brian were about to tie the knot on Tuesday.Read more here: Best surprise ever: When President Obama gatecrashed a wedding4) President Mukherjee addresses Indian diaspora in Jerusalem​”Indians all over the world are successful not only as dedicated professionals and hard working businessmen, but also as model citizens,” said President Pranab Mukherjee at the event. To read more what he said, click here.5) Shahid Kapoor defends wife Mira Rajput when questioned about her making a Bollywood debut’Leave my wife out​,’ is what Shahid had to say to reporters when prodded about Mira Rajput. Read more here.

PM Modi thanks people on first anniversary of ‘Mann Ki Baat’

PM Modi in his last ‘ Mann ki Baat’ spoke about how the programme has led to positive impact in the society.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday thanked the people of the country for enriching every episode of the Mann Ki Baat programme on it completing one year.”This day, this time, last year first Mann Ki Baat programme was held, marking the start of a special journey. I thank you for enriching every ‘Mann Ki Baat’ episode with your thoughts, inputs and anecdotes. They add life to the programme,’ tweeted Prime Minister Modi. PM Modi in his last ‘ Mann ki Baat’ spoke about how the programme has led to positive impact in the society. He said that Khadi sales have nearly doubled, awareness regarding Clean India has increased. PM also said about how many middle class families have given up their LPG connection. In one of the edition of ‘ Mann Ki Baat’, US President Obama co-hosted the show with PM Modi. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With ANI inputs

Confident about renewed energy in Indo-US ties: PM Modi wishes America on Independence Day

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the US on its Independence Day on Saturday and expressed confidence that bilateral relations will get even better in times to come based on the renewed energy in ties.

PM Modi with US President Obama. PTIPM Modi with US President Obama. PTI

PM Modi with US President Obama. PTI

“The ties between India and the US are time tested and connected by shared values. We are both vibrant democracies and remain very proud of our democratic framework,” he tweeted.

“I am extremely excited and confident about the renewed energy in India-USA ties. Our economic ties are very strong and our cultural ties are vibrant. Last year I visited USA and in January this year, President Barack Obama came to India and became the first ever President of USA to join our Republic Day celebrations as chief guest,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister noted that substantial ground was covered during both these visits as far as strengthening of US-India ties are concerned.

“Strong India US ties will benefit people of our nations and the world at large. I am optimistic that our relations are going to get even better in times to come,” he said.

The US observes 4 July as its Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, declaring that the 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation and no longer part of the British Empire.


Dear cynics, sneering at rainbow DPs on Facebook won’t do much for LGBT rights in India

On 26 June, the Supreme Court of US passed a judgment legalising gay marriage in all the 50 states of America. Over a dozen timezones away in India, where homosexuality is still a crime that can land you in prison and much of the ruling party is openly opposed to alternative sexualities, nothing changed. Except for the display pictures of many Indian Facebook users.

As soon as Facebook offered an app to apply a rainbow filter to the display picture, many users made a beeline for it, changing their DPs into the colours of pride. Almost immediately, another tribe surfaced who rolled their eyes, shook their heads and said WTF aloud (on Facebook and off it) at the alleged pointlessness and stupidity of changing your DP in India for a political development in the US.

It is true that the US judgment changes nothing for India, practically. However, assuming that changing one’s display picture to one with the rainbow filter means nothing, is also wrong.

If we can set aside cynicism for a bit, here’s what the US judgment means to people outside the country. It means that a community of people actively discriminated against, relentlessly hounded and carelessly ridiculed as anomalies in traditional narratives around sexuality, made the butt of political campaigns, has been endowed with the same rights as the heterosexual population. By saying that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry, the US Supreme Court has admitted that there is no logical, scientific ground to censure homosexuality and homosexuals. More than an acceptance of homosexuality, the US judgment is an admission that discriminating against it has been and will be stupid, illogical and irrational. That is the takeaway for India and all other countries where homosexuality faces discrimination, especially from the state.

Image used for representational purposes. AFP.Image used for representational purposes. AFP.

Image used for representational purposes. AFP.

The United States might not be the centre of the world but saying that one of the world’s most powerful democracies finally withdrawing legal roadblocks in the way of homosexuals enjoying the same rights as heterosexuals, has no symbolic value in India is very misplaced. Think about it, what does the US judgment make the Section 377 look like? An antiquated abomination in the garb of a law, right? In fact, PM Modi, usually hot on Twitter was not jumping to congratulated his new best friend President Obama with the #LoveWins hashtag. Celebrating the American victory in India, therefore, does amount to critiquing India’s stubborn resistance to change with the times.

The Facebook display pictures – for people who know what it stands for and haven’t mistaken it for the latest colourful development in the book of Facebook cool stuff – is therefore not just a pointless celebration of the politics of another country. You can accuse it of being lazy and gimmicky, but it is, at the end of the day an endorsement of the idea that your sexuality shouldn’t land you in jail especially in a country that prides itself as a liberal democracy.

Posting on Facebook, or Twitter and Instagram, is a somewhat a public ritual. You have friends, colleagues, people you met maybe just once in your life, professional contacts and sometimes even relatives in your ‘friend list’. Putting up a rainbow tinted display picture, therefore, amounts to a public endorsement of LGBT rights. And that is not to be scoffed at. When a person puts up that display picture, it does send a message to hundreds of people in his or her friends list.

Let’s face it, a greater section of our population is one, uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality. Two, they nurse one myth too many about alternative sexuality. Three, a lot of homosexual people, out of fear of ostracism or unnecessary attention, pretend to be otherwise in professional spaces and even among friends. And it all starts, with our inability to even talk about homosexuality without biting our lips, or tittering or being plain uncomfortable.

In 2007, fresh out of college in Kolkata and a year into my first job in a small newsroom, slightly partial to traditional moralities, I met P. He had joined as a reporter in the team covering arts and culture. As a strikingly good-looking boy, also the only one with an eyebrow piercing within miles of the newsroom, he was the object of much gawking. And he was asked painfully immature questions-cum-conversation starters about the history of the piercing, or the courage needed to live, and work, in dangerously low-slung denim pants. Then someone mentioned that he is gay – no the revelation wasn’t the result of deep investigation. P had himself mentioned it in the same matter-of-fact manner as one mentions having a partner or not. Several of us reacted with wide-eyed shock.

“Gay? What, he is not girly!”

“Gay? For how long?”

“OMG, really, gay?” *followed by a long stare at him, as he typed away on his keyboard in his corner*”

“Gay? He said that himself? Just like that?”

The truth is, not very long ago, homosexuality was an idea that shocked, reviled and stunned people in even so-called liberal, non-traditional work-spaces. I consciously try not to put myself in P’s shoes and tell the story, from the fear of how silly it makes me look. Dispelling the ignorance about homosexuality, too, somewhat rests on gay people themselves. It’s as if they have to prove, “Look here, nothing’s really wrong with us.” They had to build the bridges and fill in the blanks.

Very little has changed in the past years on ground, but on the interweb, there’s much more in the way of conversations around alternative sexuality. The rainbow filtered DP, in that context, is also another step towards normalising the idea of homosexuality, in a resistant, predominantly heterosexual culture. When your timeline is flooded with little thumbnails in the colours of LGBT pride , it a mark of a greater number of people accepting that there’s nothing really ‘wrong’ about homosexuality. It’s also them telling others to catch up with the rest of the world and not be a dinosaur. Bigotry and prejudice thrive on social media as much as it thrives off it – and not just in India. Putting up the rainbow DP amounts to sending a quiet but firm message to the homophobe lurking on your Facebook feed. Now, how is that unnecessary or futile in our country where spiritual gurus promise ‘cures’ for homosexuality?

Social media is a double edged tool, yes. But one cannot ignore it’s power to influence or reflect public opinion on this day. Changing your DP may not send the Supreme Court scrambling to overturn their ruling. But neither would rolling your eyes at someone’s display picture.

Barack Obama had a historic visit to India, says US presidential aide

Washington: President Barack Obama had a historic visit to India early this year as part of his efforts to deepen America’s partnership with India in the Asia Pacific region, a presidential aide has said.

Barack Obama had a historic visit to India, said the US. AP

Barack Obama had a historic visit to India, said the US. AP

“President Obama had a good trip to India earlier this year, an historic visit, as the Chief Guest at Republic Day, where he discussed, obviously, the climate change effort, but also deepening our own relationship and partnership with India in the Asia Pacific,” said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor.

Rhodes was speaking to reporters yesterday during a conference call ahead of the US visit of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

“This of course is an area that Prime Minister Abe has also discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in terms of their collaboration in the region, as well,” Rhodes said in response to a question.

“So many of the different partnerships that we are forging across the region have been mutually reinforcing, and we believe can contribute to the stability and prosperity of the broader region,” Rhodes said.

Abe arrives in US next week on a state visit. Obama would host him for a state dinner at the White House on Tuesday.

During his trip, Abe would be visiting Boston, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles.


US states redefine religious freedom: Time to read Obama’s Delhi speech back to him

Remember Barack Obama’s speech on religious freedom at Delhi’s Siri Fort in January? That speech was widely seen by BJP-baiters as a lecture to the current government that is easily tarred with the brush of anti-minorityism based on the aggressive statements of some Sangh parivar loudmouths.

“Nowhere is it going to be more necessary to uphold (religious faith) than in India. India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines,” pontificated Obama, pointing out that article 25 of our constitution guarantees “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” President Obama balanced that pointed statement by also talking about America in the same vein. He said: “In both our countries, in all countries, upholding this fundamental freedom is the responsibility of government…”.

Barack Obama. AFPBarack Obama. AFP

Barack Obama. AFP

It is time to read that lecture back to President Obama. Last month, the US state of Indiana legislated a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that seems to mean something quite different. The premise of the law is that religious people’s rights are violated if they cannot live up to their beliefs when confronted with uniform civil laws and code.

In other words, if the Bible says homosexuality is a sin but civil laws not only decriminalise gay sex, but also increasingly allow gay marriages, it is the true believer who needs his freedoms protection. The new trend in law-making in conservative states is to ensure that that a religious person cannot be prosecuted for discriminating against gays in the pursuit of his beliefs. So a food outlet owner who believes in the Biblical prohibition on homosexuality cannot be prosecuted for not serving gay or lesbian customers, or refusing to bake a cake for a wedding involving same-sex couples.

Quite clearly, in parts of Obama’s America, the meaning of religious freedom sometimes means the freedom to discriminate against people with different sexual orientations. Effectively, the right to religious freedom can mean the right to be bigoted. Recent surveys show that about a third of Americans do not like recent legislation and changing social attitudes that make gay sex and marriages not only legal, but also worth celebrating.

Interestingly, the first nation-wide RFRA law was legislated during the Bill Clinton era, and since them around 20 states have created their own religious freedom laws. While some of them are benign, the laws legislated by conservative states like Indiana and Arkansas specifically make religious bigots immune to prosecution for discriminatory treatment based on their beliefs.

Writing in Time magazine, Rod Drehner, a senior editor at the American Conservative, says the liberal argument against discrimination does not wash when it comes to religious beliefs. Religion-based discrimination, he says, is not the same as race-based bias. “Abrahamic religion does not see it that way. Sexual expression has moral meaning that race does not. You don’t have to agree with Orthodox Jews, Muslims and traditional Christians, but this goes down to the foundational beliefs of our religions.”

In other words, discrimination, when it is part of the foundational beliefs of Abrahamic religions, has to be immune from the normal laws against bias and bigotry.

The Indian parallel to this exists in the law passed to deny Shah Bano maintenance after divorce – as the Supreme Court decreed – and the refusal to go in for a uniform civil code. The interesting difference is that in India so-called “liberals” and “secular” parties are unenthusiastic about a uniform civil code as it supposedly upsets their Muslim vote banks. Conservative forces like the Sangh support a uniform civil code. In the US, the line-up of combatants in the religious law versus civil law debate is the exact opposite: conservatives want the freedom to discriminate, and the liberals oppose it.

Why is there such a fuss at this point, when the US RFRA has been on the statute book since 1993? Answer: many states have now started passing more regressive laws than the federal one, with Indiana being a recent case.

The Clinton era RFRA says that even “a religiously neutral law” can affect religious freedom and includes this clause: “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

But Indiana goes much farther. As Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic, “the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA – and most state RFRAs – do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” This provides companies and businesses protection from anti-discrimination laws, and not just churches and evangelical organizations who are anyway expected to follow the Bible.

Secondly, says Epps, the Indiana law contains a clause which says a “person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” In other words, even the state will not be able to prosecute violators for driving a coach-and-four over anti-discrimination laws. (Read the whole Atlantic article here).

Quite clearly, religious freedom in Uncle Sam’s conservative backyard is less about religious freedom, and more about protecting the biased and bigoted.

Time for us to read the Obama speech back to him.

Indo-US nuclear deal will have detrimental impact in South Asia: Pakistan

Islamabad: Peeved at the breakthrough in the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, Pakistan on Tuesday said the move for “political and economic expediencies” would have a “detrimental” impact on deterrence stability in South Asia.

Hours after US President Barack Obama concluded his unprecedented second visit to India, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz opposed India’s bid for membership to the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Representational image. AFP

“The operationalisation of Indo-US nuclear deal for political and economic expediencies would have a detrimental impact on deterrence stability in South Asia. Pakistan reserves the right to safeguard its national security interests,” he said.

During his three-day visit, Obama held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as both countries broke a seven-year logjam to operationalise a landmark civil nuclear deal, besides enhancing defence and trade ties.

Apart from clearing the obstacles for the implementation of the civil nuclear deal, President Obama reaffirmed the US’ position that India is ready for NSG membership.

Reacting to the US’ backing to India’s NSG membership bid, Aziz said, “We have also noted the Joint Statement suggesting that India is ready for NSG membership and other export control regimes.

“Pakistan is opposed to yet another country-specific exemption from NSG rules to grant membership to India, as this would further compound the already fragile strategic stability environment in South Asia, would further undermine the credibility of NSG and weaken the non-proliferation regime.”

Aziz asserted that Pakistan remains opposed to policies of “selectivity and discrimination”.

“Pakistan is not averse to civil nuclear cooperation and NSG membership for non-NPT states provided it is based on the principles of non-discrimination and objective non- proliferation criteria,” he said.

He reiterated that Pakistan would continue to maintain its constructive engagement with NSG and other export control regimes to build its case for membership.

Aziz also opposed India’s permanent UNSC membership bid, saying, “A country, in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions on matters of international peace and security, such as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, by no means qualifies for a special status in the Security Council.”

During his India visit, President Obama also reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member.


Barack Obama pays tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, calls him rare gift to world

US President Barack Obama, who has often talked about the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on his life, on Sunday paid homage to the ‘apostle of peace’ at the Rajghat memorial here describing his spirit as a “rare gift” to the world. The American President placed a wreath, showered rose petals at Gandhi’s memorial and bowed before it with folded hands for some time.

PM Modi and President Obama in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

“What Dr Martin Luther King Jr. said that remains true today: The spirit of Gandhi is very much alive in India today and it remains a rare gift to the world. May we always live in this spirit of love and peace among all people and nations,” Obama wrote in the visitors’ book at the memorial. Obama went straight to Rajghat after his ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. During his last visit here in 2010 also, he had paid tributes to Gandhi at the memorial.

The American President was presented a replica of Gandhi’s famous ‘charkha’ by the officials of the memorial. Obama also planted a sapling of the Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa) at the Rajghat. He has mentioned Gandhi on several occasions, even in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 2009.

Replying to a question on who would be his most favourite personality, dead or alive, to have dinner with, he had then said it would be Gandhi. “He’s somebody who I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr King (Martin Luther King Jr), so if it hadn’t been for the non-violent movement in India, you might not have seen the same non-violent movement for civil rights here in the United States,” he had said.


Top US diplomat hints at agenda for Barack Obama’s visit to India

Describing the India visit of President Barack Obama as a “seminal moment” for bilateral ties, a senior White House official has said that America wanted to turn the “extraordinary” potential of their relationship into concrete benefits for the people of the two countries.

Describing the India visit of President Barack Obama as a “seminal moment” for bilateral ties, a senior White House official has said that America wanted to turn the “extraordinary” potential of their relationship into concrete benefits for the people of the two countries.Days ahead of the trip, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said that energy policy and climate change will rank as top agenda items as US negotiators lay the groundwork for an international climate agreement ahead of a December UN summit in Paris.He also identified economy, defense and regional and global issues as key matters of the discussion between the two leaders when they meet later this week.Obama will be travelling this Saturday to New Delhi and take his place next to India’s leaders on January 26 to witness the pageantry of Republic Day celebrations.”As the world’s two largest democracies, there’s extraordinary potential in this relationship. We want to turn this potential into concrete benefits for our people. And so this trip comes at a time when we have a growing agenda with India,” Rhodes told reporters during a conference call.”Our goal is to leave this relationship in a fundamentally different place than it was when President Obama took office, and when Prime Minister Modi assumed charge. We believe that we have a unique moment of opportunity to have that type of breakthrough,” he said. Rhodes said a lot of what the president wanted to get done over the course of the next two years will benefit greatly from closer cooperation with India.He noted that India has been a top foreign policy priority for the Obama Administration and US-India cooperation can significantly advance American interests in terms of promoting economic ties and increased exports to a growing market.”That’s based on our belief that our Asia-Pacific policy benefits from closer ties with India, and it’s also based on our cooperation on a broad range of global issues,” he said.Dwelling on the key agendas for Modi-Obama talks, Rhodes said, “We are looking to increase our cooperation in pursuit of developing clean energy, but also pursuing a successful and ambitious round of climate negotiations this year, leading in to Paris.”

Who will guard US President Barack Obama in India?

Contours of tough security arrangements that will be put in place to guard US President Barack Obama, the person having highest threat perception in the world, during his three day India visit have finally started emerging after series of hectic parleys between US security agencies and their Indian counterparts.

Contours of tough security arrangements that will be put in place to guard US President Barack Obama, the person having highest threat perception in the world, during his three day India visit have finally started emerging after series of hectic parleys between US security agencies and their Indian counterparts. Who all will guard President Obama in India?It has emerged that Obama’s immediate security comprising of two layers will remain in the hands of chosen US secret service agents and the elite Green Berets, US’s special forces soldiers. The other outer rings will comprise of Indian elite forces that include commandos drawn from the elite special protection group (SPG) tasked to guard PM and former PMs, national security guards (NSG) meant for Z plus security for VVIPs having high threat perception, hen picked commandos from paramilitary forces and Delhi Police.Besides, a host of US secret service agents, special forces personnel and from officials from NSA and FBI, seven highly trained dogs of Belgian Malinois breed will take care of Obama’s security. What is so special about Belgian Malinois dogs?Belgian Malinois, highly intelligent working dogs, are considered best in the world for tasks like detection of odors such as explosives, accelerants (for arson investigation), and narcotics; tracking of humans for suspect apprehension and search and rescue missions.In October 2014 two Malinois – Hurricane and Jordan – had prevented a suspected attacker who had trespassed into the White House. Known as US secret service K-9 team Belgian Malinois exhibit very energy levels that are among the highest of all dog breeds. They can run 25 miles per hour and have a bite that applies hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch. How the US President will travel for RD parade ?Though not clearly put in as many words, Obama is expected to travel in either of the two Beasts, the 7 tonne Cadillac limousines, that can withstand virtually any kind of attack and has all the arrangements for every kind of exigency. He is expected to be accompanied with one specialist Indian doctor, to be especially nominated by the PMO, in the Beast to help attend to the president in any case of any emergency as per Indian conditions. Will Delhi be a no-fly zone?Yes Delhi will be no-fly zone for five hours for all commercial/passenger flights during the RD parade and a no-fly zone for three hours whenever US president is airborne such as, for a visit to Taj Mahal in Agra. However, as an added security measure this time the no-fly zone has been extended to 500 kilometres instead of the usual 300 kilometres. The same no-fly zone rules will be put in place during Obama’s arrival in Delhi and departure which is expected to be on January 27 from Agra. President Obama is expected to travel to Agra in his Airforce One plane and use a US airforce chopper to visit Agra but may also travel in the Beast. He is expected to spend 5-6 hours in Agra before flying out from India.

Barack Obama ‘excited’ to be at Republic Day celebrations: John Kerry

President Barack Obama is “very excited” that he will be the first US President to be honoured as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.Speaking at the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Summit, he said: “President Obama is very excited and particularly pleased with the fact that he will be the first US President to be honoured as the chief guest on Republic Day commemoration.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited the US President to be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26. Obama accepted the invitation in signs of expanding ties between the two nations. “And he will the first sitting US President to visit India twice while in office,” Kerry said. “Let me make it clear we believe in values that both countries share.” India traditionally invites a head of state to participate as chief guest at Republic Day celebrations that culminates in a military parade.Last year’s chief guest was the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Modi met Obama on a his visit to the United States in September and they have spoken on telephone since then. Obama, who had visited India in 2010, would also be the first US President to visit the country twice while in office.