New Delhi, January 27 – Barack Obama, whose Republic Day visit to India is pretty much the topic of discussion along the length and breadth of the country, just about won the best speech of the year award.
As a packed-to-the-extent-of-not-being-able-to-breathe Siri Fort awaited POTUS’ speech, the man wowed his audience well, quoting – wait for it – the Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge Shah Rukh Khan. The graver issues aside, here are five lighter reasons Obama’s speech was so loved by Indians:
Obama began his speech with “Senorita… badi badi deshon mein aisi chhoti chhoti baatein hoti rehti hai”… And, apart from the several dropped jaws and saucer-sized eyes that the audience had to deal with, the auditorium resounded with deafening applause at this.
Quoting Shah Rukh’s oft-repeated dialogue is probably the loveliest of surprises that Obama sprang on his listeners.
The quasi-Hindi-ised POTUS:
Three minutes into his Town Hall speech, and Obama had already used words like ‘Namaste’, ‘Bahut Dhanyavaad’, ‘Bhangra’ and ‘Diwali’, and of course, that cult dialogue from DDLJ.
And if the last few days are anything to go by, this powerful orator has made sure that he pressed just the right buttons when addressing Indians – the most-loved among them being the generous sprinkling of his speech with doses of Hindi here and there.
The US President set aside everything else, and talking about religious issues in India, went on to applaud Shah Rukh Khan, Mary Kom and Milkha Singh.
He said, “India can succeed so long as it’s not splintered along religious lines; so long as it’s not splintered along any lines… All Indians, whatever your faith, go to the movies and applaud actors like Shah Rukh Khan;
when you celebrate athletes like Milkha Singh or Mary Kom…,” and went on to speak about Kailash Satyarthi, “…and every Indian can take pride in the courage of a humanitarian who liberates boys and girls from forced labour…that’s what unifies us. Do we act with compassion and empathy; are we measured by our efforts…”
Diwali to the White House:
Sometime during his speech, Obama also said how he ushered in Diwali, for the first time, to the White House. US’ relation with India, said the President of the US, can be one of the defining partnerships of the century.
He also rued the fact, looking towards Michelle, that “the last time we celebrated the Festival of Lights in Mumbai, we danced with some children, but unfortunately we couldn’t arrange the dancing this time!”
Finally, all through the speech, something that glued the audience to Obama was the fact that the man made sure every topic that he dealt with, had a personal angle to it. In most of his speeches, Michelle has always been referred to, and the most recent one in India, too, wasn’t any different.
The much-loved politician said how he and Michelle weren’t people from strong or rich backgrounds, how the two of them celebrated Diwali in the White House, and so on and so forth.
Obama, today, might have made even Guns n’ Roses – the band behind that famous song ‘My Michelle’, jealous, what with the numerous references to wife Michelle! And in all, Obama’s Town Hall speech is something that will sure be remembered in the country for years to come.