President Barack Obama set off on his ten day, four nation Asia trip, starting in India on Saturday. In his first speech in India, Obama raised a tough voice against the terror attacks that had wrecked havoc on Mumbai's iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel, two years ago.
The President clearly stated that his stay in the same hotel is “absolutely” intended to send a message.
India-America united against terrorism
“Ever since those horrific days two years ago, the Taj has been the symbol of the strength and resilience of the Indian people,” Obama said, after he and the First Lady visited the memorial at the hotel. “So we use our visit here to send a very clear message that in our determination to give our people a future of security and prosperity, the United States and India stand united.”
The President commended the might shown by Indian people to fight off terrorism. “We'll never forget how the world, including the American people, watched and grieved with all of India,” Obama said of the 26/11 attacks. “But the resolve and the resilience of the Indian people during those attacks stood in stark contrast to the savagery of the terrorists.”
Win-win proposition for both nations
Obama’s trip is focused on expanding markets for American exports and the President later told business leaders that increased commerce would benefit both countries.
Trade between our countries is not just a one-way street of American jobs and companies moving to India. It is a dynamic two-way relationship that is creating jobs, growth and higher standards in both our countries. -- Barack Obama
“I am here because I believe that in our interconnected world increased commerce between the U.S. and India can be and will be a win-win proposition for both nations,” he said while addressing the U.S.-India Business Council in Mumbai, the financial hub of India.
A few hours later, the White House showcased a list of trade deals negotiated with India that are expected to give a boost to U.S. businesses in both money and jobs.
It includes a $4.1 billion agreement for the Indian air force to purchase 10 C-17 military transport planes from Boeing, which, according to the White House, is going to support more than 22,000 jobs, besides bolstering American partnership with India.
America’s support for India’s growth
Obama also said that American not only hails India’s rise, but is also in full support of it. With the growth of India’s economy, there is going to competition between the world’s two largest democracies, noted the President, but ensured it is all in a positive tone.
Obama also busted the “old stereotypes” that suggest that Americans lost their jobs as India became the land of call centers and back offices, and small businesses in India suffered because of the arrival of American companies there.
“These old stereotypes and old concerns ignore today’s reality,” Obama said. “Trade between our countries is not just a one-way street of American jobs and companies moving to India. It is a dynamic two-way relationship that is creating jobs, growth and higher standards in both our countries.”
Obama said the export controls for India will be relaxed to “make sure that unnecessary barriers don’t stand in the way of high tech trade between our two countries.”
Diwali celebrations hindered with Obama’s visit
Though Obama’s visit to India has a lot of positives, the timing of his trip is being questioned. Diwali, the nation’s biggest, brightest, loudest festival fell on Nov. 5, just a day before Obama’s arrival in Mumbai, and locals had to cut down on the celebrations because of the President’s security arrangements.
As Diwali fell on a Friday, most Indians were looking to stretch the celebrations over the weekend. However, the travel and access restrictions, along with the ban on bursting crackers in some areas, hindered the festivities and left the residents sore.
Mumbai will continue to bear its very unusual, deserted look until the President leaves for New Delhi Sunday afternoon.