Live: India, US can be ‘best partners’; must empower youth, says Obama – Firstpost
1.10 pm: PM Modi to see off Obamas at Palam airport
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at Palam airport to see of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle after their three-day visit to India.
The Obamas will fly straight to Saudi Arabia to pay their condolences to the family of King Abdullah who passed away recently.
11.35 am: Indian youth have the power to change the world, says Obama
“You’re not just going to define this nation, you’re going to shape the world”, Obama tells the crowd, who are hanging on his every word.
Our nations are strongest when we empower our young people. You have to break down stereotypes and prejudices”, he added, saying that even if it was too late for him, that it was not too late for the digitally empowered youth to make a difference.
Saying that India and the US were both in the position to make changes, because they were among the ‘hardest working people in the world’, Obama ended by saying he was optimistic about the future of Indian and US ties. “We are your partners, we will help you build the nation of your dreams! Jai Hind”, he said before ending.
11.22 am: Obama praises role of women in Indian armed forces
Obama is now tackling more sticky issues like discrimination and gender equality, in his customary eloquence. Drawing on personal experience, Obama spoke of how even in the US, he himself was treated differently because of the colour of his skin. “The dreams of the young girl picking a bucket of water, or the man who is driving an autorickshaw are no less important or beautiful than ours”, he said, adding that his own grandfather was a cook in the British army.
Obama also said it was heartening to see that Indian women were being pushed to the forefront of the great Indian story, saying it was particularly heartening for him to see the women in the armed forces at the Republic day parade, and the fact that his own personal guard had been led by a woman.
“You can tell that a country is developing when you see the role of the women in it”, he said, adding that he himself leaned on his wife, Michelle, to correct him when he did something wrong, “which happens very often”.
The US President also talked passionately about the freedom to practice religion free from discrimination. He talked strongly about the need for ‘Hindus and Muslims’ to get along and fight together against discrimination and against stereotypes.
11.09 am: Obama gets more serious, says India should be on UN security council
The speech has become a little more serious now. The US President talks about India’s achievements since its independence. “In recent history India has lifted more people out of poverty than other country, and India can be at the forefront of lifting people out of poverty all over the world.”
He also refers to the fact that the US and India are tied together by “the largest Indian diaspora in the world”, and says that 3 million ‘proud Indian Americans have made the US stronger’.
Also finding mention are clean renewable energy energy and how India can do more to fight disease. Terrorism also finds mention with Obama saying that “both countries are victims of terror strikes which is why we have signed defence pacts”.
The US President then lands in a nice juicy crowd pleaser by saying he saw no reason why a revamped United Nations should not have India as a permenant security council member.
11.00 am: Senorita..bade bade desho mein’ Obama quotes DDLJ at Siri Fort
It’s been three minutes into Obama’s speech and he’s already used five Hindi words. “Namaste!’ ‘Bahut danyavad’, ‘Bhangra’ and ‘Diwali’.
But then he topped everything by quoting a classic SRK line from DDLJ – “Senorita..bade bade desho mein… you know what I mean”
Heres that scene from the movie:
And here’s a vine of him saying it at the speech. Indian social media sure works fast:
— ANI (@ANI_news) January 27, 2015
The US President who gave the BSF motorcycle men a thumbs up at the republic day parade quipped that the “Secret service does not let me ride a motorcycle”, a light hearted reference to all the fuss surrounding his visit 10.53 am: Kailash Sathyarthi receives huge applause Nobel prize winner Kailash Satyarthi walks on to the stage, and is greeted by a huge round of applause. One of the members of the US delegation stands up and rushes over to him to shake his hand. There is great anticipation over the arrival of Obama, who had wanted to directly address the youth of India. He is also scheduled to meet three children saved by Sathyarti’s organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan. 10.45 am: Obamas reach Siri Fort auditorium We are minutes to go for the town hall now. Barack and Michelle Obama have reached the auditorium. Around 1,800 people will attend and seats were filling up even an hour before Obama was scheduled to speak. The US President is expected to discuss the future of Indo-US ties. The crowd may also get the opportunity to ask him a few questions. 10.10 am: Satyarthi to meet Obama again Ahead of his address at the Siri Fort Auditorium, Barack Obama will meet his fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and is also likely to interact with three children that were rescued by Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan. When asked about his scheduled meeting with Obama, Satyarthi said: “When two Nobel Peace laureates meet, obviously peace, non-violence in the world will be discussed.”
09.00 am: US President Barack Obama set to address Siri Fort Auditorium On his last day in New Delhi, President Barack Obama is expected to speak on increasing cooperation between the US and India and he will highlight ways to turn the energy of both nations into positive progress on issues that matter. There will also be a question-answer round. Backstage, Obama will meet his fellow Noble laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who along with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the rights of all children to education,” the White House said.
Updates for 26 January end 7.30 pm: Still untapped potential that we have not realised, says President Obama In his speech at the India-US CEO Summit, President Barack Obama sought to increase trade volumes between the two countries. “There is natural convergence between India and the US. There is incredible business talent in India. PM Modi has brought new energy, vigour to redesigning the architecture in India so that more business and greater growth take place,” said President Obama. “We are moving in the right direction. There is still untapped potential that we have not realised. Lot more work needs to be done. We want to see more trade. We want to see more investment between the two countries that will benefit the people,” the visiting president said.
“There is a great interest on part of US companies to find consistency, clarity, greater simplicity in regulatory and tax environment in India. Fortunes of India and fortunes of USA are inextricably linked. We can grow and prosper together, and can establish global norms on how business can be done. Our (US) growing trade is a win for India as more American made machinery can upgrade India’s infrastructure,” President Obama said. Pointing on the big ticket business investment in India, he said, “We have taken another big step forward in sefence cooperation, we have agreed to resume dialogue on bilateral investment treaty. We are moving forward, there is new momentum, energy and hope. We have to keep working to make it easier to do business together. We can work together to develop new technologies that will help India move forward. We need to make sure economic growth of both countries is inclusive and sustained.” “Growth cannot just be measured by GDP, it has to make people’s life better in more tangible and lasting ways,” President Obama said. The President also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the hospitality. “I want to thank you Mr. Modi for your invitation to join you on Republic Day and wonderful hospitality,” President said. 7 pm: Need for consistency in polices for economic growth, says PM Modi Speaking at the India-US CEO Summit in New Delhi, which was also attended by visiting US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government is trying hard to give a new fillip to the business environment. “Issues that you have flagged is good for me to know, helps to know how investors feel about how govt should work. Pro-people, good governance is the solution. Policy driven state with consistency will solve many problems. Ease of doing business initiative has been taken up by the government to make business easy,” Modi said. “There is a need for consistency in polices for economic growth,” the prime minister said. Talking about the business potential in India, PM Modi said, “A lot of exist opportunities for every sector in India. India has tremendous scope for service sector, tourism is an untapped sector. We can work on tourism sector. You have heard that Gujarati people are everywhere, “Hotel, Motel and Patel”. This should be done here.” The prime minister also laid stress on removing red tapism and minimising paper work. “We are going to reduce paper work involved in doing business by digitising the process. The slogan for agriculture should be ‘More Crop, Per Drop’,” he said. PM Modi hoped that India-US will develop their business ties into a much deeper level in the coming future. “We are two nations blessed because of rich inheritance, even more because of generation of Indians and Americans who have perceived and upheld them. In past eight months we have worked tirelessly to fulfill mandate to not just increase economic growth but to improve quality of life of people. Economy has to grow to increase purchasing power. India is full of opportunities, we have talent as well as scope; want to focus on skill, scale and speed,” the prime minister said. “Agree with the suggestion to monitor big projects at PMO level. I will personally monitor implementation of big projects,” he said. “There is a need for consistency in polices for economic growth,” Modi said. “We are conscious of our challenges but also inspired by our many successes. We have energy of our youth, enterprise of our business and genius of farmers. In the world of economies, numbers are often an unforgiving mirror to performance, our economic growth has increased by a percentage point,” the prime minister said. “Today business sentiments in India are the strongest among Asian markets. More than one million bank accounts were opened in just four months under government’s ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’. Our ambition of a clean Ganga involves 500 million people, 100 of towns and thousands of villages. India will be an important anchor of stability for global economy,” PM Modi said. “We have collaborated in space, we have partnered in setting up IITs and IIMs, we helped shape the digital age. Prosperity is no guarantee for peace, but India sees the world as one family and we wish to share our values,” the prime minister said. 6 pm: Obama meets India CEOs President Barack Obama has arrived at the Hotel Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi for a meeting with the top captains of Indian industry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are also attending the meeting. According to Times Now, around 70 CEOs from the Indian side while 30 are present from the US side. Key issues that would be focussed upon are seeking mutual investment particularly in the defence and insurance sectors. The Indian industry will also urge the US President to relax visa norms enabling Indian business community to trade with the Americans more comfortably. 4.28 pm: Obama, PM Modi arrive for President’s ‘at home’ gathering Now Barack Obama has reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the President Pranab Mukherjee‘s ‘at home’ gathering. Present for the informal event is who’s who of Delhi’s political circle including senior officials and ministers of the government, reports Times Now. Television visuals show Michelle and Barack Obama interacting with senior BJP and Congress leaders, and chief ministers of states. Also seen interacting with the invitees is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 3.57 pm: Modi, Obama to address CEO forum today but big US CEOs give it a miss Even as Modi and Obama are set to address the US-India CEO forum meeting this evening where the two will jointly address business chiefs from both countries, it seems some of the bif US CEOS are likely to give the event a miss. According to a report in the Economic Times, the absence of US CEOs such as JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, General Electric’s Jeffrey Immelt and Boeing’s Jim McNerney from the event will be conspicuous, especially since they all had joined Obama in his earlier India visit, in Novemeber 2010, when he UPA was in power. Among business chiefs from the US who will be present at the meeting are Honeywell’s David Cote, Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi, Mastercard’s Ajay Banga, Westinghouse president and CEO Daniel Roderick, Disney’s Robert Iger and Arne Sorensen of Marriott International. The forum is co-chaired by Cote. 12.04 pm: Crowd waves madly to Obama as he leaves with Pranab, Modi Tri-coloured balloons fly into the air as the Republic Day parade comes to an end. The crowd stays put and waves madly to the visiting US President. Obama will now hold a brief meeting with senior leaders of the Congress party like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. After lunch the US president will be meeting with the Indian President again and then will have a roundtable meet with the CEOs of India and US companies. He’ll then address a USIBC summit and call it a day. 11.47 am: BSF motorcycle stuntmen get thumbs up from Obama Alright, the BSF just won the Republic Day parade with its motorcycle stunts. We have seen some pretty unbelievable formations, including one peacock, and some insanely good parallel formations. Michelle and Barack Obama look the most impressed they have, all day, and we don’t blame them. Obama just gave them a thumbs up. That is the preclude for the flypast, which mercifully has not been cancelled after all. Unfortunately however, the fog means that the view of the planes – led by the Hercules military planes purchased from the US – is sadly limited. But hey, something is better than nothing. 11.37 am: Mangalyaan dance and Swachh Bharat dances featured at parade ‘Mangalyaan Mangalyaan apna Mangalyaan’ opens a dance dedicated to the Mars orbiter Mission, performed by 170 students from a Delhi public school.
Featuring a pyramid of metallic silver clad students and some dancers in various colours, the song and dance is a tribute to India’s future and what can be achieved by its future generations. The Mangalyaan dance was preceded by a dance dedicated to Swachh Bharat. 11.30 am: ‘Daang’ dance by Junabi-Konkana tribe from South Gujarat delights US contingent The Junabi-Konkana tribe from South Gujarat is performing the Daang dance to the delight of the crowd. The dance is usually performed by the tribe on Holi. The visiting US contingent has burst into applause. 11.24 am: State floats over, govt department tableaux on display The ‘Make in India’ and ‘Beti bachao, beti padhao’ floats are among those featured in the government tableaux, which are expected to showcase some of PM Modi’s pet projects. The ‘Make in India’ float was particularly impressive, featuring a lion made out of cogs and clockwork with some funky electro-style dubstep music. 10.55 am: Andhra Pradesh tableau begins procession of states Some state pride on display now. Andhra Pradesh farmers are followed by a huge crab from Goa and some folk dance from Madhya Pradesh.
Uma Bharati was shown standing and applauding the MP float. The Assam float features its natural beauty, compete with a ‘tourist’ taking a picture and mouthing the word ‘wow’, as does strangely, Jharkhand. Is this some sort of elaborate hint to Obama, or are they cleverly taking advantage of global attention on the parade? Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have got their own separate floats, while Gujarat’s float features Modi’s pet ‘statue of unity’ project. 10.49 pm: India shows off military might as Obama bops to marching bands India is pulling out all the stops to show off its military might, in front of chief guest, Barack Obama. Obama looks suitably impressed, and was shown in the latest tv visual, bopping his head to the beats of the military bands. This is a wonderful opportunity for India to showcase its capabilities to the rest of the world, thanks to the presence of the US President who has ensured that this years celebrations will be watched by the entire globe. 10.45 pm: Some R-day trivia and history… And as the contingents march on, here is a bit or R-day trivia and history courtesy Twitter:
10.26 am: First ever women’s contingent to march at R-day parade The first ever woman’s contingent to march at the Republic day parade, led by Captain Divya now marches past the saluting station. The contingent gets a standing ovation from HRD Minister Smriti Irani, and PM Modi is seen leaning over to Obama, to explain to him the significance of this moment. “It is indeed an honour, and perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the 25-year-old Capt. Ajith told IANS in an interview at Rajpath, during rehearsals for the parade. While women officers have been participating in previous Republic Day parades, this is be the first time that an all-women’s contingent of the armed forces will march down Rajpath. “I hope watching us march in uniform will inspire many women to come ahead and join the forces to serve the nation,”Divya said. Capt. Divya Ajith graduated from the prestigious Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai in 2010. She created history by becoming the first woman in the army to receive the coveted Sword of Honour, which is awarded to the best cadet of a course. 10.16 am: R-day parade begins, Lt Gen. Subroto Mitra leads first formation The Republic Day parade has now begun in full earnest. Lt Gen. Subroto Mitra led the first formation, followed by past winners of the Ashok Chakra. We are now seeing cavalry and infantry combat vehicles, all saluting a bundled up President Pranab Mukherjee. Media reports say that one lakh people have turned out to watch the parade. 10. 06 am: Ashok Chakra awards being given out The first Ashok Chakra award has been awarded posthumously to major Mukund Vardarajan, who was killed while taking on terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. The next awardee Neeraj Singh was also killed in action. He had been shot in the chest while trying to save an injured comrade. The awards for both men have been received by their wives.
PM Modi seems to be explaining the proceedings to Obama, given that the commentary was conducted entirely in Hindi. Meanwhile the word on the flypast seems to be that it will be conducted as usual. And right on cue, we see choppers flying overhead, kicking off the parade. 9.55 am: Obama gets even bigger cheer than Modi at Rajpath ..though it’s unlikely that Modi will mind. Michelle Obama has also joined him, and the enthusiastic DD anchor just called her an epitome of ‘elegance and grace’. Former PM Manmohan Singh was also shown, standing at the VVIP enclosure along with his wife.
9.50 am: PM Modi arrives at Rajpath to huge cheers A huge US contingent is present at Rajpath to view the parade, where PM Modi has just arrived to huge cheers. President Pranab Mukherjee has also arrived, as has defence minister Manohar Parrikar. They are all at the saluting station, where President Obama will also join him. The parade itself will begin in a few moments. 9.30 am: PM Modi to pay respects at Amar Jawan Jyoti Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the Amar Jawan Jyoti and with the three heads of service paid homage to the soldiers who have fallen while defending India’s borders. Along with him are the Defence Minister and the head of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Two minutes of silence was observed after the wreath is laid at the memorial at India Gate 9.05 pm: Flypast may be cancelled PM Modi, who is probably still smiling at the memory of all those ‘bromantic’ moments with Obama, has sent out a tweet, greeting the nation on Republic Day.
गणतंत्र दिवस पर सभी देशवासियों को हार्दिक शुभकामनायें । Greetings to everyone on Republic Day. — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 26, 2015
Meanwhile, the MeT department doesn’t have very good news on the weather front. They say it could well rain till around 11am. This won’t affect the parade per se, but could well impact the flypast ceremony. NDTV has also quoted a source as saying the flypast, a highlight of the parade, might be cancelled because of the weather. The US secret service who wanted the flypast cancelled, could well be celebrating. In secret of course. The US president’s security detail had wanted a no-fly zone imposed over the national capital and had also objected to the flypast on the basis that one of the aircraft could be used as a weapon. However India had refused, saying that it was an integral part of the parade. However, while there is still time, there is still hope. And the weather doesn’t seem to have kept the crowds away in any case:
8.46 am: Rain rain go away… Even the best of planning can be undone by the weather gods. It’s raining in Delhi, and PM Modi and US President Obama will both be hoping that it will go away so that the parade goes off successfully! This of course, won’t change anything in terms of the parade itself, but Obama would undoubtedly enjoy a view of the spectacle with no rain in his way…. Will it clear up soon? One can only hope! 8:00 am: Busy day for Obama ahead of historic parade The US President has signed all the deals yesterday and he’s going to have another busy day today. The President will be arriving at Rashtrapati Bhavan and he should be in the viewing stand at Rajpath around 10 am after which the parade will begin. He’ll head back to the hotel after viewing the parade around mid-day and will have a brief meeting with senior leaders of the Congress party like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. After lunch the US president will be meeting with the Indian President again and then will have a roundtable meet with the CEOs of India and US companies. He’ll then address a USIBC summit and call it a day. As for the parade, will India be able to deliver something on the standard of what the US president is used to? Such as the Macy’s thanksgiving parade for instance? Here is what that looks like:
07:00 am: Nuclear energy to key defence deal: Here’s what has been achieved so far The US President has signed a range of deals during his idea visit and they range from a breakthrough in the civil nuclear deal to defence. Here’s a full list of the deals that have been signed between the two nations during this trip so far. End of updates for 25 January 10.30 pm: I wanted to wear Modi’s kurta, says Obama I wanted to wear a ‘Modi kurta’, said US President Barack Obama as he raised a toast at the banquet hosted in his honour by President Pranab Mukherjee, PTI report said. As he started his speech, Obama said, “We feel your friendship, ‘dosti’ and I am deeply honoured.” He recalled a headline back home which asked who is the new fashion icon other than Michelle Obama and said “I was thinking of wearing a Modi kurta myself.” He appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he is tough and has a style. “I most often said that my story could happen in America and of course Mr Prime Minister, your story can happen only in India.” 8.49 pm: Obamas arrive at Rashtrapati Bhavan PM Narendra Modi arrives at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the banquet hosted in honour of President Obama. Over 250 guests have been invited to the dinner hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee. Obama has arrived at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the dinner banquet. Read more about the Presidential banquet dinner here. 5.52 pm: Modi and Obama end joint statement with another bear hug US President Barack Obama started his statement with an accented “Namaste” which was greeted by a huge round of applause from the media and Indian and US delegates present here. “Mera pyaar bhara namaskar,” Obama said. In his address to the press, the US President thanked PM Modi for hosting him and Michelle for the second time and added that he loved ‘chai pe charcha.’ The President said that the two countries had agreed that their trade and economic partnership must focus on improving daily lives of people. “We are also launching new joint programme to improve air quality in Indian cities. Deepening our ties with India will remain topmost priority for my administration,” Obama said.
Dubbing India as a natural partner, the US President further said that as two innovative economies it becomes mandatory to work together to deepen security and defence ties. As a callback to Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in September last year, Obama said PM Modi was treated as a Bollywood star at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, making the Prime Minister laugh. When asked what is the equation between Obama and Modi, both the leaders hailed each other as “close friends” and the Prime Minister said, “This chemistry that Barack and I share has not only brought us closer but has also brought the people of India and America closer.” There were a few light moments during the joint statement too. When asked what all they talk about when they are alone, President Obama said he asked PM Modi how much sleep did he get these days. The reply made the Prime Minister laugh. “One thing I can tell you we discussed is how much sleep each one of us gets. I have come to know that Modi gets less sleep than me. That is perhaps because he is new. After you have done it for 6 years, you can get an extra hour,” Obama said. Vowing to take defence ties to a “new level”, India and the US on Sunday renewed their 10-year Defence Framework Agreement and agreed in principle to pursue joint development and production projects, PTI reported. The new framework will enhance bilateral defence partnership by stepping up joint military exercises and through more in-depth intelligence-sharing, maritime security efforts among others. “Today, we have also decided to take our growing defence cooperation to a new level. We have agreed, in principle, to pursue co-development and co-production of specific advanced defence projects,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after holding extensive talks with visiting US President Barack Obama here. Modi said this will help upgrade country’s domestic defence industry and expand the manufacturing sector in India. He added that both countries will also explore cooperation in other areas of advanced defence technologies, the PTI report added. The Prime Minister did not specify what these projects were. “We agreed to deepen our defence and security cooperation…. And in a major step forward for our relationship, defence technology and trade initiative will allow us to jointly develop and produce defence technologies,” the US President said. Obama added that both Modi and he have also agreed to a “new vision for Asia Pacific”. “We are doing together more to advance our shared security and prosperity in this critical region,” he said. The first framework agreement, which expires this year, was signed in the US in 2005 by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his US counterpart in the previous George W.Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld. 5.19 pm: Will co-develop defence projects with US, says PM Modi In a short address to the press, PM Modi thanked US President Obama for taking time out for visiting India. “We are honoured that you accepted our invitation and I know how busy you are,” Modi said, in his glowing note of thanks to Obama. PM Modi then went on to hail the renewed vigour in the India-US relations, the proof of which was in the fact of the US President visiting the country. “It is special because, on this day, we celebrate the values shared by the world’s two largest democracies. President Obama’s visit reflects the transformation in our relationship and a deep commitment to the partnership,” said Modi. “The civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our transformed relationship. It embodied trust, created new economic opportunities and helped us strive towards getting clean energy,” said Modi. He added that he was glad, six years after the civil nuclear agreement was signed, the two countries are moving towards commercial cooperation. President Obama also promised cooperation on ‘specific advanced’ defence projects and development of defence technology. India is slated to co-produce and co-develop defence projects with US. Modi also spoke about the terrorism threat and what seemed like a veiled rap on Pakistan said, “All nations will have to vow to eliminate terrorist havens.” “We will have to ramp up our counter-terror capabilities which include technology.” He also pledged to help Afghanistan as it tries to gather its wits after the withdrawal of US troops. 3.09 pm: PM gifts copy of first telegram from US to India’s Constituent Assembly to Obama According to this tweet of MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted a copy of the first telegram from US to India’s Constituent Assembly to Barack Obama on Sunday.
In the latest development, TV footage showed the PM and the US President having tea at the Hyderabad House lawns. According to media reports, both the leaders have several strategic issues to discuss during Barack Obama’s three-day visit to India.
The both leaders will soon address the media with a joint statement. According to media reports, the press conference was delayed as Modi and Obama had a one on one chat in the lawns of Hyderabad House. 1.15 pm: President Obama reaches Hyderabad House for bilateral talks As Obama reached Hyderabad House in Delhi for bilateral talks, it was being reported that the civil nuclear deal has already gotten a thumbs up from both leaders. CNN IBN quoted sources saying that Obama and Modi have agreed to the deal and a formal announcement will be made in the joint press briefing.
On the eve of Barack Obama’s visit it was being reported that the civil nuclear deal will finally be signed by both parties. The Times of India reported: “There was “cautious optimism” on the Indian side that Obama was going to use his executive powers to temper the US insistence on acquiring tracking rights perpetually over nuclear material, even those sourced from third countries for use in US reactors, over and above inspections by the IAEA. According to the agreement likely to be reached, the US authorities will go by assurances provided by IAEA over India’s use of nuclear material and its non-proliferation commitments.” 12.30 pm: President Obama visits Rajghat Following the red carpet welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Obama travelled to Rajghat in The Beast where they paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Obama was presented with a memento ( a Charkha) by Union Minister Piyush Goyal.Obama was also seen planting a sapling at Rajghat.
President Obama’s next destination is Hyderabad House where he has a lunch meeting with PM Modi. They will also stroll around Hyderabad House for a ‘one-on-one’ chat. Sources said they may discuss the nuclear deal which has been stalled since 2008. Media reports said that Obama will be gifted a charkha or a spinning wheel, a khadi shawl, three books and a bust of Mahatma Gandhi 12:22 pm: Red carpet welcome, 21 gun salute for Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan India’s president Pranab Mukherjee welcomes US president Barack Obama at the Rashtrapati Bhavan after Wing Commander Pooja Thakur escorted the US president to the Indian delegates. US President Barack Obama stated it’s a great honour to be in India for Republic Day.
Barack Obama was introduced to Indian cabinet ministers and senior leaders at Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The official twitter handle of President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC) shared the visiting dignitary’s excitement. “President Obama is honored to be back in #India to celebrate Republic Day and to begin a new chapter in the US-India partnership. Jai Hind!” it tweeted. 12: 00 pm : As Obama reaches Rashtrapati Bhavan, White House tweets Jai Hind Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as India’s President Pranab Mukherjee have arrived at Rashtrapati Bhavan for US President Barack Obama’s ceremonial welcome. Obama’s cavalcade finally reached the Rashtrapati Bhawan at 12:15 pm. Wing Commander Pooja Thakur of IAF is leading the Guard of Honour for the US President. Obama was given a 21 Gun salute as a mark of honour. National anthem of both India and the United States will be played out, following which Obama will be given the guard of honour. India defence minister Manohar Parrikar, Urban Development minister M Venkaiah Naidu, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, finance minister Arun Jaitley and home minsiter Rajnath Singh are in attendance for the ceremonial reception for US President.
11: 50 am: Modi breaks protocol to meet and bear-hug US President Obama As Obama’s motorcade headed off for the welcome ceremony at the residence of President Pranab Mukherjee, the roads were lined with armed police and soldiers, part of a highly choreographed plan for the visit. Up to 40,000 security personnel will be deployed during the visit and 15,000 new closed-circuit surveillance cameras have been installed in the capital, according to media reports. The two sides have worked to reach agreements on climate change, taxation and defence cooperation in time for the visit. Talks on a hoped-for deal on civil nuclear trade went down to the wire with no clear solution at the weekend. 10:50 am: Security has been heightened at ITC Maurya, where the Obamas will be residing As Obama alighted from his Air Force One jet shortly after 9.45 a.m. local time, Modi, donning a prominent red shawl across his beige-coloured Nehru jacked welcomed Obama, wearing a dark suit, with a hug. The two kept clasping hands, chatting and joking like old friends. The US president was accompanied by his wife Michelle, wearing a white and blue flower-printed dress. The welcoming ceremony was short and the Obamas were whisked away within minutes in The Beast, the presidential limousine, that was parked right across the red carpet. The Beast had the Indian and US flags fluttering on its bonnet. Obama will be the first US President to grace the Republic Day parade as the Chief Guest tomorrow. He will hold extensive talks with Modi on a number of strategic issues including ways to break the impasse in implementation of the civil nuclear deal and enhancing defence and economic ties. Both countries are working hard to have “excellent” outcomes from the visit of Obama. The two countries will also deliberate on ways to boost trade and economic ties as well as the crucial issue of climate change. A multi-layered security blanket was thrown around the city as Central Delhi turned into a virtual fortress with nearly 40,000 personnel drawn from Delhi Police and paramilitary forces guarding every nook and corner and over 15,000 CCTV cameras relaying every movement live to a central control room. 10:15 am: Modi greets Obama with a warm hug US president Barack Obama landed in Delhi this morning to begin his three-day visit to India during which both sides will seek to break the deadlock in operationalising the civil nuclear pact, firm up a defence cooperation agreement besides broadening ties in areas like trade and investment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally received the US president and his wife Michelle at the Palam airport. The two leaders greeted each other with a warm embrace. “This is a momentous visit. It is high both in terms of symbolism and substance,” foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
Obama is currently enroute to ITC Maurya, where he will be staying. Meanwhile, an unprecedented security arrangement, comprising Delhi Police and para-military forces, has been put in place in the national capital. The green ridge opposite to Maurya Sheraton hotel has been thoroughly checked and police personnel have been deployed in the jungles along the ridge till the US President leaves. Central Delhi has turned into a virtual fortress with security agencies partly or completely shutting down nearly 71 buildings. Even bonafide citizens of this area, including MPs and officers of the Armed Forces, have been either issued special passes or have to establish their identities to enter the zone. 9:35 am: Modi receives Obama, Michelle as Air Force One lands in Delhi Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi is likely to personally receive US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at the Palam airport in Delhi this morning. Obama, who will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade tomorrow, is the first US President to visit the country twice.
Obama, whose presidential plane, Air Force One, just landed in New Delhi .
The entire stretch outside the Palam airport has been cordoned off as Obama and Michele step out of the Air Force One.
The US president would be accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan and later proceed to Raj Ghat to lay a wreath at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. He will also plant a sapling at the venue.
At 1 p.m., Obama is to attend a luncheon meeting with Modi at Hyderabad House.
The two sides will hold delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House and later address the media.
In the evening, Obama would call on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan and also attend a banquet hosted by the president.
Obama to reach Delhi at 10 am today, visit to Taj Mahal cancelled
8:30 am The much-anticipated visit by US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to Agra to view the Taj Majal has been cancelled and the US first couple would instead head to Riyadh to condole the passing away of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the White House said Saturday.
Obama and Michelle “will travel to Riyadh on Tuesday in order to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of the late king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz”, the White House said.
Obama arrives in India today on a three-day visit. He was to visit Agra Jan 27.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that Vice President Joe Biden was “originally to have led a delegation to Saudi Arabia on the president’s behalf”.
“As the president’s and vice president’s travel schedules became clearer, we determined that the window when the vice president would be on the ground in Riyadh coincided with the president’s departure from India.
“Accordingly, we adjusted the schedule in coordination with the Indian government so that the president would be able to depart India following his speech Tuesday to stop in Riyadh during the return trip to meet with King Salman and other Saudi officials and offer his condolences on behalf of the American people.”
The White House said Obama “regrets that he will be unable to visit Agra during this trip”.
“The vice president will remain in Washington,” the statement added.
On Jan 27, Obama will give a talk at Siri Fort in New Delhi on the subject “India and America: The future we can build together”, before flying to Riyadh in the afternoon.
During their 2010 visit, Obama and Michelle had gone to Mumbai where the US president had also held a Townhall type of talk with students.
Agra District Magistrate Pankaj Kumar confirmed to reporters the cancellation of Obama’s visit to Agra.
An official said advance teams of the US Secret Service and other officials have returned from Agra.
Obama was to fly to Agra on the last day of his visit Tuesday and spend an hour at the Taj Mahal before flying back to the US.
“The US first lady and the president both were keen to visit Taj… specially since they were unable to do so in 2010, but the plan has now been cancelled,” an official privy to the visit confirmed to IANS in Agra.
Due to the weather, an alternative way via the Yamuna Expressway was also being contemplated.
But due to the seasonal fog, the US Secret Service was reportedly not keen to take the two-hour long Yamuna Expressway route from New Delhi to Agra.
As part of the stringent security in place for the visit, the Agra authorities had decided to shut down mobile services for three hours during the time the Obamas would come calling and electronic jammers were to be put in operation.
Besides the hundreds of security personal fanning out in the area, the authorities were also planning to shut down schools near the Taj Jan 27.
The stretch of road from the airport to the Taj, roughly 12 km, was planned to be made out of bounds for locals two hours before and after the visit.
End of updates on 24 January
Air Force One takes off for New Delhi with Barack and Michelle Obama on board
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama left for India on Air Force One from Andrews Airforce Base in Maryland. The US first couple will reach India on Sunday morning.
4. 00 pm: Why did Obama cancel the Taj Mahal visit?
If you don’t have an answer to something, there will be conspiracy theories. And, Twitter is the best place to find those theories.
So, here’s what Twitter says:
— Henry Foy (@HenryJFoy) January 24, 2015
— Prabhu Chawla (@PrabhuChawla) January 24, 2015
— clarisse_carnets (@clarissecarnets) January 24, 2015
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) January 24, 2015
On finding out Taj Mahal is actually Tejo Mahalaya- an ancient Shiva temple- Obama cancels visit to avoid controversy.
— Be’havin! (@WrongDoc) January 24, 2015
3. 15 pm: No Taj Mahal visit this time, Obama cuts short India trip
The Obamas will not be visiting the iconic Taj Mahal this year and will be heading to Saudi Arabia on the afternoon of 27 January.
US officials told the Indian government that Obama will not be making the Agra trip and would instead be visiting Saudi to pay his final tributes to King Abdullah.
According to an AFP report, 600 cleaners were mobilised in Agra to clean the road in front of Taj Mahal ahead of Obama’s visit.
According to the report, Ramjeet beamed with pride at the thought of US President Barack Obama admiring his handiwork. Ramjeet and others got paid Rs 300 per day for their work. “If everything is clean then he will be impressed,” Ramjeet told reporters.
And now, with Obama cancelling the visit, Ramjeet and many others may not be happy.
It’s really too bad the Obama’s won’t get to see the magnificent Taj but at least Agra got a white wash & a makeover.
— sarah jacob (@sjacobtalk) January 24, 2015
1.10 pm: Obama’s visit will strengthen ties, say experts
Obama’s visit to India is a powerful symbol of the new energy that he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have brought to India-US relations and the American leader will see a new India that feels much more confident about its role as a rising power, analysts have said.
Council on Foreign Relations’ senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia Alyssa Ayres said that Modi is demonstrating willingness to break some of the older “truisms about wanting to have equal ties with all great powers”. Read more on what they have to say here.
12.00 pm: What will the Obama’s do in India? here’s our interactive timeline
With the Obamas landing in India at 10 am on Sunday, President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have drawn up a tight schedule for the US leader. Check out our timeline here.
US President Barack Obama will leave Andrews Air Force Base this evening for his highly anticipated three-day landmark trip to India on an invitation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Obama will be accompanied by a sizable delegation that will include several top officials, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama, when he arrives in New Delhi Sunday morning, the White House has said.
The president will be joined in India by multiple members of his cabinet, influential business leaders and a host of US lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the US House of Representatives during the trip.
Air Force One, the presidential aircraft that will fly Obama to India, will have a brief refuelling halt over Ramstein in Germany and will touch down in Delhi at 10 am on Sunday at Air Force Station, Palam.