Frontlist | Barack Obama Shares Praise For India In Book

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Former USA President Barack Obama shared praise for India in book A Promised Land. He mentioned listening to Mahabharata, Ramayana and watching Bollywood films.

 

Former United States of America President Barack Obama’s book A Promised Land has already become a talking point in India before its release, courtesy its multiple references to the country and key politicians from his previous visits. Obama’s comments about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that he was ‘eager to impress’ while lacking the ‘aptitude and passion’ had sparked a political row and huge debate on social media. As the book hit book stores on Tuesday, the India mentions in the book also included the MahabharataRamayana and Bollywood.

Obama on fascination for India in book

Barack Obama wrote that even before he visited India (twice, 2010 and 2015) he had been fascinated with the country, that it held a ‘special place’ in his imagination. He shared that he could not pinpoint one reason for his interest in India. He believed the ‘sheer size’ of the country holding one-sixth of the world’s population, hundreds of languages and ethnic groups, could have been a reason.

Obama shared that it could also be due to his childhood memories when he grew up listening to ‘epic Hindu tales’ of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in Indonesia or because of his inclination towards Eastern religions. The former POTUS added that having Pakistani and Indian friends in college, who taught him to cook daal and keema, and sparked his interest in Bollywood movies, could have been another reason for his fondnes for India.

The 59-year-old then shared it was Mahatma Gandhi who influenced him highly.

“More than anything, though, my fascination with India had to do with Mahatma Gandhi. Along with (Abraham) Lincoln, (Martin Luther) King, and (Nelson) Mandela, Gandhi had profoundly influenced my thinking,” he wrote.

“As a young man, I’d studied his writings and found him giving voice to some of my deepest instincts,” the former US president said.

“His notion of ‘satyagraha’, or devotion to truth, and the power of non-violent resistance to stir the conscience; his insistence on our common humanity and the essential oneness of all religions; and his belief in every society’s obligation, through its political, economic, and social arrangements, to recognise the equal worth and dignity of all people — each of these ideas resonated with me. Gandhi’s actions had stirred me even more than his words; he’d put his beliefs to the test by risking his life, going to prison, and throwing himself fully into the struggles of his people,” Obama stated.

Obama also termed India as a ‘success story’ and praised former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“In many respects, modern-day India is counted as a success story, having survived repeated changeovers in government, bitter feuds within political parties, various armed separatist movements, and all manner of corruption scandals,” Obama wrote.

He also wrote, “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seemed like a fitting emblem of this progress: a member of the tiny, often persecuted Sikh religious minority who had risen to the highest office in the land, and a self-effacing technocrat who had won people’s trust not by appealing to their passions but by bringing about higher living standards and maintaining a well-earned reputation for not being corrupt.”

Obama’s A Promised Land traces his journey from the 2008 election campaign till the operation that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The book is the first part of a two-part volume that narrates his journey as the President of USA from 2009 to 2017.

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