Image: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warmly embracing the US President Obama upon his arrival in India. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg liked this picture!
It is hard to match this one – US President Barack Obama, on his reception in India
Indians all around the world are excited about US President Barack Obama's visit to India on a 3-day tour that also includes him being the 'Guest of Honor' for this year's Republic Day parade (that takes place every year on 26th January).
What we witnessed was a historic trip that saw such warmth and camaraderie between the leaders of two most important democracies in the world. On one hand was Obama, enthused by the love and adulation as part of the Indian hospitality; on the other hand was Modi, (leader of the ruling party whose symbol is the royal Lotus flower. Thus, the title of this blog) whose determined leadership has made him one of the pioneering political icons of the world right now.
Image: Prime Minister Modi (third from left) and President Obama (next to him) looking at the R-Day parade
These are exciting times for us Indians to project a new image of our culture to the world. All eyes are on us right now, and we are ready to usher in a new phase of development and growth during such exposure.
However, as the D-Day (the colorful Republic Day parade) approached, madness ensued in the capital. Security was naturally beefed up and close to 15,000 CCTVs were installed at countless pockets in the city. New Delhi was and still is a virtual fortress. Even the Supreme Court had to intervene and reply why these measures were not taken earlier for the common man (as against taking it for the most powerful man in the world!)
Funnily, the heightened situation of security also scared the living daylights out of those who wanted to enjoy and travel on the 4-day extended weekend (Many IT companies in the National Capital Region declared Friday as a holiday, and Monday was naturally a national holiday on account of the Republic Day). Many of my friends chose to stay at home and enjoy the light drizzle that also almost played spoilsport to the glorious Republic Day ceremony.
Image: The picture, taken at the Republic Day parade venue, says it all!
Anyway, I was very happy when President Obama and his administration chose to accept PM Modi's invite to be the 'Guest of Honor' for this year's 66th annual Republic Day parade. This definitely must have evinced some interest in the minds of the US citizens about what India really represents in modern times.
Image: A tableau representing the newly-formed 29th Indian state of Telangana
Colorful tableaus, each representing an Indian state, pass in front of the dignitaries, displaying myriad flavors of our vivid culture. Apart from these and the usual cultural performances, the parade also encompasses our military might in the form of march pasts in different avatars.
Image: Obama was visibly impressed by a display of motorcycle trick-riding, showing them a thumbs-up
Then there was the FLOTUS – First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, who thrilled us by wearing a graphic-print outfit in black and white with bold blue flower petals designed by Indian-American designer Bibhu Mohapatra. More power to the Indian diaspora!
Image: The Fashionable 'First Lady': (L-R) Michelle wearing a Bibhu Mohapatra dress upon arrival; a navy blue dress at the Presidential House dinner; a beige outfit at the high tea, and a Black knee-length dress at the Town Hall address.
One thing that impressed me the most was that Obama's speech was peppered with the knowledge of the 'Indian'ness factor. Whether it was greeting the dignitaries in his speech in our national language Hindi or playfully reciting a Bollywood movie dialogue (much to the pleasure of the cheering crowd), he was quoting it all, thereby gaining an instant connect with us.
As someone who is involved with a company like Soulful Collection, which deals with selling vintage leather bags and accessories to the US and other parts of the world, the representation of 'Made in India' products get huge benefits. Furthering the economic cooperation and trade between India and the United States is a win-win situation for both countries. Concluding the landmark 3-day visit to Delhi, Obama said his country can become India's “best partner”!
Alas, their trip had to be cut-short (The Obamas even this time couldn't see The Taj Mahal) as they had to leave for Saudi Arabia to offer their condolences on the demise of King Abdullah.
However, one thing is for sure – this short-lived Obama mania was delightful and swept everyone of us off our feet.
I am the first US President to visit India twice, but I will not be the last – President Obama said, concluding his trip to India.
Come back soon Mr & Mrs Obama. Looking forward to see you again here.