President Barack Obama is telling the world’s Muslims that his administration will be looking for a “new way forward,based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
And he is warning leaders around the globe who try to encourage conflict and “blame their society’s ills on the West” that their people will judge them on what they build,not what they destroy.
In his inaugural address,Obama also pledged broader engagement in the world. Saying the people of the world should know that America is a friend of all who seek “a future of peace and dignity,” Obama vowed that the US is “ready to lead once more.”
He is also pledging to work alongside the people of poor nations to make “farms flourish and let clean waters flow.”
History unfolds as Obama occupies White House
Sworn in as the 44th President of the United States,Barack Hussein Obama became the first black American to occupy the White House,fulfilling Martin Luther King’s dream sooner than anyone had imagined.
Obama’s rise from a small-time community worker to the most powerful man in the world marks a huge political transformation in a country with a racist past.
A votary of strong ties with India,the 47-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer assumed office 45 years after the black civil rights leader King challenged Americans to embrace his dream of equality.
Obama,whose father was a Kenyan and mother a White American,himself has had no misgivings on the herculean task he faced in getting elected as President because of his race and name. This was reflected by his comment that getting elected to the White House would be a “leap”.
The charismatic Democrat won handsomely in the November 4 Presidential poll after a gruelling 21-month-long campaign in which he overcame the challenges from high-profile fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton and Vietnam War veteran Republican nominee John McCain.
Born on August 4,1961,in Hawaii,Obama’s rise to the top post demonstrates a major change in America,which has witnessed bitter racism for centuries.
Obama’s first tryst with power came in 1996 when the low-paid community organiser on Chicago’s south side was elected to the state Senate of Illinois. He made it to the federal Senate in 2004 after a landslide electoral victory.
While many have scoffed at Obama’s experience as a community organiser,saying community work experience does not count in the making of a US President,analysts feel that it has helped the Black American leader to reach out to individual voters during his campaign.
Obama has demonstrated his ability to gather crowds of 100,000 people or more to his rallies,and to generate a buzz rarely seen in US politics.
He read Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’,Martin Luther King Jr’s biography by Taylor Branch,besides the writings of his political ideal Abraham Lincoln on his path to the White House.
Shortly after his presidential victory was confirmed on November 4,he addressed a cheering mass in his home city of Chicago.
“It’s been a long time coming,but tonight,because of what we did on this day,in this election,at this defining moment,change has come to America,” he said.
Occupying the world’s most powerful post,Obama has his task cut out — to bail out America from the worst financial crisis in decades and to carve a new path on the foreign policy front ensuring a clean break from the disastrous policies of the George W Bush regime during the past eight years.
He has forewarned the people of the tough days ahead and urged them to get ready for sacrifices. Experts believe the goodwill that Obama carries with the people of the US right now,will help him in riding through the crisis and motivate Americans to face the hurdles with a smile.
On India,Obama has more than once expressed his great admiration for its vibrant democracy and maintained that the two countries should be “natural allies”.
Obama had lend support to the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal though he initially had reservations on it.
The President-elect had strongly condemned the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
“These coordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism. The United States must continue to strengthen our partnerships with India and nations around the world to root out and destroy terrorist networks,” he had said.
Obama has also made it clear that India posed no threat to Pakistan and that the latter rather faced the danger from militants within.
However,the initial signal coming from Obama’s transition team has been a bit conflicting. While Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton has said the new Administration would build on the political and economic ties with India,the President-elect himself has linked the Kashmir issue with the problem in Afghanistan.
At the same time,Obama also talked about discouraging outsourcing,a move,if implemented,could have an adverse impact on India.
On countering the threat of terrorism,Obama said he will do this by building new partnerships and would send troops into war zone only with a clear mission.
Obama became a media darling and one of the most visible figures in Washington,with two best-selling books to his name – ‘The Audacity of Hope’ and ‘Dreams From My Father’.
The Democrat,whose first name Barack in Arabic means ‘the blessed’,was hard pressed to fend off rumours that he is a Muslim and asserted that he is a practising Christian.
Obama is married to lawyer Michelle and the couple have two daughters,10-year-old Malia and seven-year-old Sasha.