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Parting shot: Obama cautions on sectarianism

After striking all the right notes in his three-day stay in the national Capital, US President Barack Obama, however, before leaving New Delhi decided to strike a note of caution.  In his last address in the Capital, the American President on Tuesday stressed on the need for religious tolerance saying that every person had the right to practice his faith without any persecution and that India would succeed so long it was not ‘splintered’ on religious lines.

Coming from the US President in midst of murmurs from Hinduvta elements over vice-president Hamid Ansari ‘not saluting’ the Tricolour at the R-Day parade, the Obama’s observations assume a special significance. Speaking at the Town Hall event at the Siri Fort auditorium on the third and final day of his visit to India, Obama said, “Every person has the right to practice his faith without any persecution, fear or discrimination. India will succeed so long it is not splintered on religious lines.”

Citing Article 25 of the Indian Constitution dealing with Freedom of religion, he said, “Your (Constitution) Article 25 says all people are equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and have right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. In both our countries, in all countries upholding with freedom of religion is the utmost responsibility of every government.” Obama also said that around the world we have seen intolerance, violence and terror perpetrated by those professing to uphold  their faith. “We have to guard against any efforts to divide us on sectarian lines or any other thing,” added Obama.

Underlining the factors that unify both the countries, Obama said “our diversity is our strength” and cautioned that both India and the US have to be on guard against divisive efforts along sectarian lines or any other lines. “If we do that well and if America shows itself as example of its diversity and the capacity to live and work together in common effort and common purpose and if India as massive as it is with so much diversity, so many differences, is able to continuously reaffirm its democracy so that is an example for every other country. That’s what makes us world leaders. Not just the size of our economies or the number of weapons we have but our ability to show the way and how we work together,” he said.

Obama also said the US supported India’s inclusion as a permanent member in the UN Security Council. On Indo-US relations, Obama said, “India and the United States are not just natural partners - I believe that America can be India’s best partner.” “Of course, only Indians can decide India’s role in the world,” he said, adding, “But I’m here because I am absolutely convinced that both our people will have more jobs and opportunity, our nations will be more secure, and the world will be a safer and more just place when our two democracies stand together.”
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