New Delhi, Jan 26:
Enthusiastic visitors at India’s 66th Republic Day parade were hopeful that the apparent chumminess between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama will “improve the economy” of both countries and especially “benefit” India in its fight against terrorism.
“It feels good to host the world’s most powerful leader (Obama). It is also heartening to see the friendship between him and Modi. America and India both need each other,” Adesh Singh, a retired defence ministry official who had come to see the parade with his family, told IANS on Rajpath.
“America has the technology and we have the workforce. So, together we can help strengthen each other’s economies,” he added.
Obama, who is on a three-day visit to India, is the first US president to be chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
Most people at Rajpath were impressed by the two leaders walking on the lawns of the verdant Hyderabad House and chatting over a cup of tea Sunday like two friends, a scene which was beamed live by most television channels.
In fact, the highly publicised walk-and-talk of Modi and Obama was a topic of much discussion among the audience as they waited for the parade to begin. Most of them had gathered since early morning, braving rain and the January chill.
The friendly warmth and camaraderie between the two leaders was on full display again Monday over a two-hour period while watching the parade and pageantry.
In fact, the popularity of the US president could be gauged by the fact that Obama received a grand welcome as crowds cheered and waved at him as soon as he alighted from his car – The Beast – accompanied by wife Michelle.
Obama too waved back, much to the delight of the crowds.
A group of young men even had a huge yellow colored poster with the message — We Love obamas, with a red heart signifying love.
“Friendly relations between the two countries are quite common but when two leaders become close that transcends into much better, quick and effective results.
Modi and Obama both have that bond but they must ensure that the people of both the countries see the results soon,” Ridhima Singh, a young chartered accountant, told IANS.
However, the issue of terrorism and better defence ties with the US seemed to be at the top of everyone’s minds.
“When it comes to fighting terrorism emanating from our neighbourhoods, it will definitely benefit us to have a strong ally like America,” Suresh Rao, a central government employee, who came to see the parade with his daughter, told IANS.
On the eve of his second visit to India, Obama had said that “safe havens” of terrorism within Pakistan were “not acceptable” and that the country should also bring those behind the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to justice.
“I hope that this bond will only grow stronger with time and both the countries benefit each other,” said 25-year-old Karan Bhatia who attended the parade for the first time braving the chilly winds and drizzle. IANS