Former US president Barack Obama is addressing the 15th edition of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. Later in the day, he will address a town hall in the national capital where he will interact with nearly 300 young leaders drawn from various parts of the country. “We have to do a lot of work to close the gap between the rich and the poor,” Obama said in his address, adding that economies do not work well when the middle class is neglected.
Obama, who arrived in India on Thursday, will also address the 15th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. He is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is Obama’s first visit to India after demitting office in January.
12.00 noon: “Politicians tend to be a reflection of the forces in the society… If communities across India are saying they won’t fall prey to division, then it will strengthen the hand of politicians who feel that way.” He was responding to a question on remarks he made during his Townhall in New Delhi, three years ago. Obama added that the most important office in a democracy is the “office of citizens” and not the President’s or PM’s or Mayor’s.
11.55 am: “India played a key role during the Paris accord on climate change. It was not only politically difficult but a right thing to do,” Obama said, adding,”we have to work to lower our carbon emissions but we can’t do that by ourselves.”
11.40 am: On jobs and the economy, Obama said automation is the way forward and much of the world’s investment needs to head in this direction. “We can’t unwind globalisation or pretend automation doesn’t exist. We need to invest in our people’s skills, education,” he said.
11.30 am: Speaking on the similarities between the two nations, Obama said he and Modi have met for an unprecedented nine times. “Together India and US have made new discoveries. Both nations have gone to Mars. Values of openness and rule of law, freedom of speech – India and US have so much in common,” he said. “Indian and US constitution begin with the same three words, We the People.”
“The town hall will expand the conversation about what it means to be an active citizen and make an impact and how the Obama Foundation can support emerging leaders in this effort,” the Obama Foundation said in an update.
Meanwhile, a Delhi resident has urged the former US president to wear a face mask during his scheduled town hall meeting in the city. Data scientist Amrit Sharma, who made the request in an open letter to Obama, said doing so would help generate awareness and catalyse action on air pollution.
Delhi’s air quality remained in the “very poor” category for the seventh straight day on Thursday with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recording an AQI (air quality index) of 360.
Sharma, who has also been invited to attend the interactive session with Obama at the town hall, said, “You are one the most photographed people on earth, but none of your photos could potentially save millions of lives yet.”
“I believe that if you wear a face mask while you are in Delhi and take a photo (of it), that alone could have such an impact,” Sharma wrote in the open letter to Obama.
With PTI inputs