Monday, January 26, 2015

LIVE: President Obama to speak on India and America - The future we can build together

10:50 am: US President Barack Obama meets his fellow Noble laureate Kailash Satyarthi. Three children - Deepak (8), Ayud (12) and Payal (14) - who were rescued from child labour by Sathyarthi also met Obama.

Satyarthi, 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".

10:40 am: President Obama to speak on India and America: The Future We Can Build Together

The town hall meeting at south Delhi's Siri Fort Auditorium is the last engagement on Obama’s itinerary during his three-day-long visit to India. Around 2000 people, mostly youth, are present at the venue.

Obama's visit to India has been a special one this time. It is second trip to India – the first time a serving American Head of State has visited India twice. Also, Obama has become the first US president to attend India's annual Republic Day parade as chief guest.

Experts say the US president's visit has underscored his determination to reinvent a relationship marred by a bitter diplomatic row in late 2013.

Although the trip has been light on substantive policy announcements, Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a breakthrough on a nuclear deal that had stalled under India`s previous government and have been at pains to demonstrate their personal rapport.

Obama, who hosted Modi in Washington in September, had said before the visit that the "stars are aligned" to realise a vision he outlined for the two countries to become global partners when he last visited in 2010.
Both sides want a counter-balance to China, with Modi seen as taking a more assertive line on India`s powerful neighbour than the previous government.

On Monday, both the leaders met business leaders.  While Modi wooed US investors promising a predictable tax regime, removing "remaining uncertainties" and an open business environment, President Barack Obama pledged USD 4 billion in investment for trade with India.

At the same time, Obama flagged US concerns over trade barriers, intellectual property rights and sought consistency and simplicity in regulatory and tax regime for ease of doing business with India.

The two leaders made forth their views clear in back-to-back meetings with top corporate leaders of both the countries at a CEOs Forum and a Business Summit.
Modi asserted that his government has removed some of the "excesses of the past" and said "we will now soon address the remaining uncertainties", an apparent reference to the retrospective taxation law of the previous government that put off global investors.

Modi has gone out of his way to welcome Obama, breaking with protocol to greet him on the tarmac and inviting him to co-host his radio phone-in 'Mann Ki Baat' that will be broadcast on at 8:00 pm on Tuesday.

The US President had been scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal with First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday, but his trip has been cut short to allow him to travel on to Saudi Arabia and pay his respects to new King Salman.

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