2/23/08 Indo-Asian News Services
Senator Barack Obama, the frontrunner for the
Democratic Party's nomination for presidential elections in
November, has pledged to "build a close strategic partnership"
between US and India if elected.
In an article he has written for India Abroad, the Illinois senator
has also committed that he will encourage the active engagement and
partnership of the Indian American community in "making the change
we seek" in US.
"The world's oldest democracy (US) and the world's largest democracy
(India) are natural partners, sharing important interests and
fundamental democratic values," Obama said in the article for the
next edition of the weekly newspaper headquartered in New York.
Obama, who has edged past rival Hillary Clinton in the Democratic
primaries, said it is his commitment to the critical relationship
between the two countries that he voted for the US-India nuclear
energy deal on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"And that is why I will move forward to build a close strategic
partnership between the US and India when I am president of the
United States," he added.
Obama said Washington and New Delhi must work together to combat the
common threats of the 21st century because "both countries have been
victims of catastrophic terrorist attacks and we have a shared
interest in succeeding in the fight against Al Qaeda and its
operational and ideological affiliates".
The presidential hopeful said he voted against the Iraq war because
"we needed to finish the fight with bin Laden and Al Qaeda in
He also referred to his proposal long before the declaration of
martial law in Pakistan that the US needed to "condition our
assistance to the Pakistani government so that we encourage stronger
action against Al Qaeda and a restoration of democracy".
In the article, Obama also spoke about his admiration for Mahatma
Gandhi, whose portrait hangs prominently in his Senate office.
"In my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an
inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change
that can be made when ordinary people come together to do
extraordinary things," he wrote.
In the article, Obama lauded the major contributions the Indian
American community has been making to the country's economy as well
as to the fabric of American society.
"Already, in communities across this country, Indian Americans are
lifting up our economy and creating jobs," he said. "Leading
entrepreneurs, innovators, lawyers, doctors, engineers, and
hardworking professionals are adding to the richness and success of
the American society."
Obama also bemoaned hate crimes, civil liberties violations, and
protracted immigration regulations and backlogs that adversely
affect Indian Americans.
"Too often," Obama argued, "flawed strategies like racial profiling
have had a disproportionate effect on Indian Americans. Too often,
restrictions at our borders have prevented entry for many students
and family members who seek nothing more than opportunity and
reunification with loved ones".
Obama said as president he would draw upon the energy and expertise
of the Indian American community.
"Together, we can restore and revitalise America's innovation-based
economy so that we can create jobs and meet our most pressing
domestic challenges," he said.
Acknowledging the prowess in IT and high technology fields of Indian
Americans who have powered Silicon Valley, he said: "To succeed, we
need to make use of technology, a sector where so many Indian
Americans have thrived."
Obama, the first African American to have a real chance of occupying
the White House, also drew a parallel between his personal story and
that of Indian Americans.
"For many years," he said, "I have been impressed by the dedication
of Indian Americans to make their communities and their country a
"My relationship with the community stretches back to my days as a
student. This bond is strong and deep because it is in part
personal. Like so many Indian Americans, my father arrived in
America (from Kenya) without money, but with a student visa and a
determination to live his dreams," he said.
Obama claimed that he had the longstanding support of many Indian
Americans in all aspects of his campaign, as well as the
endorsements of leading elected Indian American lawmakers. Those who
have endorsed him include Maryland House Majority Leader Kumar Barve
and Kansas Representative Rajiv Goyle.