President Obama Addresses the People of India


The President:
Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Neha, for
what a wonderful introduction. (applause) Everybody, please
have a seat. Nothing fills me with
more hope than when I hear incredible young
people like Neha and all the outstanding work that
she’s doing on behalf of India’s youth and
for representing this nation’s energy and its
optimism and its idealism. She makes me
very, very proud. And I’m sure — I think
they may be her — is that somebody
related to you? Okay. Because we just had
a chance to meet, and she’s beaming with pride
right now sitting next to you. Give Neha a big round
of applause once again. (applause) Distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen, to all the students and young
people who are here today, to the people of India
watching and listening across this vast nation —
I bring the friendship and the greetings of
the American people. On behalf of myself
and Michelle, thank you so much for
welcoming us back to India. Bahoot dhanyavad. (applause) It has been a great honor
to be the first American President to join you
for Republic Day. With the tricolor
waving above us, we celebrated the strength
of your constitution. We paid tribute to
India’s fallen heroes. In yesterday’s parade, we saw
the pride and the diversity of this nation — including
the Dare Devils on their Royal Enfields, which
was very impressive. Secret Service does not
let me ride motorcycles. (laughter) Especially
not on my head. (laughter) I realize that the sight of
an American President as your chief guest on
Republic Day would have once seemed unimaginable. But my visit reflects the
possibilities of a new moment. As I’ve said many times, I
believe that the relationship between India and the
United States can be one of the defining partnerships
of this century. When I spoke to your
Parliament on my last visit, I laid out my vision for
how our two nations can build that partnership. And today, I want to
speak directly to you — the people of India —
about what I believe we can achieve together,
and how we can do it. My commitment to a new
chapter between our countries flows from the deep
friendship between our people. And Michelle and I
have felt it ourselves. I recognized India with the
first state visit of my presidency — where we
also danced to some pretty good Bhangra. (laughter) For the first time,
we brought Diwali to the White House. On our last
celebration here — (applause) On our last
celebration here, we celebrated the Festival
of Lights in Mumbai. We danced with some children. Unfortunately, we were
not able to schedule any dancing this visit. Senorita, bade-bade
deshon mein. You know what I mean. (laughter and applause) Everybody said, by the
way, how much better a dance Michelle
was than me — (laughter) — which hurt my
feelings a little bit. (laughter) On a more personal
level, India represents an intersection of two men
who have always inspired me. When Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was protesting racial
segregation in the United States, he said that
his guiding light was Mahatma Gandhi. When Dr. King came to India,
he said that being here — in “Gandhi’s land” —
reaffirmed his conviction that in the struggle for
justice and human dignity, the most potent weapon of all
is non-violent resistance. And those two great souls
are why we can gather here together today, Indians and
Americans, equal and free. And there is another
link that binds us. More than 100 years
ago, America welcomed a son of India —
Swami Vivekananda. (applause) And Swami Vivekananda,
he helped bring Hinduism and yoga to
our country. And he came to my
hometown of Chicago. And there, at a great
gathering of religious leaders, he spoke of his
faith and the divinity in every soul, and the
purity of love. And he began his speech
with a simple greeting: “Sisters and brothers
of America.” So today, let me say: Sisters
and brothers of India — (applause) — my confidence in
what our nations can achieve together is rooted
in the values we share. For we may have our different
histories and speak different languages, but
when we look at each other, we see a reflection
of ourselves. Having thrown off
colonialism, we created constitutions that began
with the same three words — “we the people.” As societies that celebrate
knowledge and innovation, we transformed ourselves
into high-tech hubs of the global economy. Together, we unlock new
discoveries — from the particles of creation
to outer space — and we are among the
few nations to have gone to both the
Moon and to Mars. (applause) And here in India,
this dynamism has resulted in a stunning achievement. You’ve lifted countless
millions from poverty and built one of the world’s
largest middle classes. And nobody embodies this
progress and this sense of possibility more than
our young people. Empowered by technology,
you are connecting and collaborating like
never before — on Facebook and WhatsApp and Twitter. And chances are, you’re
talking to someone in America — your
friends, your cousins. The United States has the
largest Indian diaspora in the world,
including some three million proud Indian-Americans. (applause) And they make
America stronger, and they tie us together —
bonds of family and friendship that allow us to share
in each other’s success. So, for all these reasons,
India and the United States are not just
natural partners. I believe America can
be India’s best partner. I believe that. (applause) Of course, only
Indians can decide India’s role in the world. But I’m here because I’m
absolutely convinced that both our peoples will have
more jobs and opportunity, and our nations
will be more secure, and the world will be a safer
and a more just place when our two democracies — the
world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest
democracy — stand together. I believe that. (applause) So here in New Delhi,
Prime Minister Modi and I have begun
this work anew. And here’s what I think
we can do together. America wants to be
your partner as you lift up the lives of
the Indian people and provide greater
opportunity. So working together,
we’re giving farmers new techniques and data — from
our satellites to their cell phones — to increase
yields and boost incomes. We’re joining you in
your effort to empower every Indian with a
bank account. And with the breakthroughs
we achieved on this visit, we can finally move toward
fully implementing our civil nuclear agreement, which
will mean more reliable electricity for Indians
and cleaner, non-carbon energy that helps
fight climate change. (applause) And I don’t have
to describe for you what more electricity means. Students being able
to study at night; businesses being able to stay
open longer and hire more workers; farmers being able
to use mechanized tools that increase
their productivity; whole communities
seeing more prosperity. In recent years, India has
lifted more people out of poverty than any
other country. And now we have a historic
opportunity with India leading the way to end the
injustice of extreme poverty all around the world. (applause) America wants to be your
partner as you protect the health of your people
and the beauty of this land, from the backwaters of Kerala
to the banks of Ganges. As we deliver more
energy, more electricity, let’s do it with clean,
renewable energy, like solar and wind. And let’s put cleaner
vehicles on the road and more filtration systems
on farms and villages. Because every child should be
able to drink clean water, and every child should be
able to breathe clean air. (applause) We need our young
people healthy for their futures. And we can do it. We have the
technology to do it. America wants to be your
partner in igniting the next wave of
Indian growth. As India pursues more
trade and investment, we want to be
first in line. We’re ready to join you in
building new infrastructure — the roads and the
airports, the ports, the bullet trains to propel
India into the future. We’re ready to help design
“smart cities” that serve citizens better, and we want
to develop more advanced technologies with India, as we
do with our closest allies. We believe we can be even
closer partners in ensuring our mutual security. And both our nations have known
the anguish of terrorism, and we stand united in the
defense of our people. And now we’re deepening
our defense cooperation against new challenges. The United States welcomes
a greater role for India in the Asia Pacific, where the
freedom of navigation must be upheld and disputes must
be resolved peacefully. And even as we
acknowledge the world as it is, we must never
stop working for the world as it should be — a world
without nuclear weapons. That should be a
goal for all of us. (applause) I believe that if we’re going
to be true global partners, then our two nations must do
more around the world together. So to ensure
international security and peace, multilateral
institutions created in the 20th century have to
be updated for the 21st. And that’s why I support a
reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India
as a permanent member. (applause) Of course, as I’ve said before,
with power comes responsibility. In this region, India can play
a positive role in helping countries forge a better future,
from Burma to Sri Lanka, where today there’s
new hope for democracy. With your experience
in elections, you can help other
countries with theirs. With your expertise in
science and medicine, India can do more around the
world to fight disease and develop new vaccines, and help
us end the moral outrage of even a single child dying from
a preventable disease. Together, we can stand up
against human trafficking and work to end the scourge
of modern day slavery. (applause) And being global partners
means confronting the urgent global challenge
of climate change. With rising seas, melting
Himalayan glaciers, more unpredictable monsoons,
cyclones getting stronger — few countries will be more
affected by a warmer planet than India. And the United States
recognizes our part in creating this problem, so we’re
leading the global effort to combat it. And today, I can say that
America’s carbon pollution is near its lowest level
in almost two decades. I know the argument made by
some that it’s unfair for countries like the United States
to ask developing nations and emerging economies like
India to reduce your dependence on the same fossil fuels that
helped power our growth for more than a century. But here’s the truth: Even if
countries like the United States curb our emissions, if countries
that are growing rapidly like India — with soaring
energy needs — don’t also embrace cleaner fuels, then
we don’t stand a chance against climate change. So we welcome India’s
ambitious targets for generating more
clean energy. We’ll continue to help
India deal with the impacts of climate change —
because you shouldn’t have to bear that burden alone. As we keep working for a
strong global agreement on climate change, it’s
young people like you who have to speak up, so we
can protect this planet for your generation. I’ll be gone when the
worst effects happen. It’s your generation and
your children that are going to be impacted. That’s why it’s urgent that
we begin this work right now. Development that lifts
up the lives and health of our people. Trade and economic
partnerships that reduce poverty and create
opportunity. Leadership in the world
that defends our security, and advances human dignity,
and protects our planet — that’s what I believe India
and America can do together. So with the rest of my
time, I want to discuss how we can do it. Because in big and diverse
societies like ours, progress ultimately depends
on something more basic, and that is how
we see each other. And we know from experience
what makes nations strong. And Neha I think did a
great job of describing the essence of what’s
important here. We are strongest when we
see the inherent dignity in every human being. Look at our countries —
the incredible diversity even here in this hall. India is defined by countless
languages and dialects, and every color and caste and
creed, gender and orientations. And likewise, in America,
we’re black and white, and Latino and Asian,
and Indian-American, and Native American. Your constitution
begins with the pledge to uphold “the dignity
of the individual.” And our Declaration of
Independence proclaims that “all men are
created equal.” In both our countries,
generations have worked to live up to these ideals. When he came to India,
Martin Luther King, Jr. was introduced to
some schoolchildren as a “fellow
untouchable.” My grandfather was a cook for
the British army in Kenya. The distant branches
of Michelle’s family tree include both slaves
and slave owners. When we were born,
people who looked like us still couldn’t vote in
some parts of the country. Even as America has blessed
us with extraordinary opportunities, there were
moments in my life where I’ve been treated differently
because of the color of my skin. Many countries, including
the United States, grapple with questions of
identity and inequality, and how we treat each other,
people who are different than us, how we deal with diversity
of beliefs and of faiths. Right now, in crowded
neighborhoods not far from here, a man is
driving an auto-rickshaw, or washing somebody
else’s clothes, or doing the hard work
no one else will do. And a woman is cleaning
somebody else’s house. And a young man is on a
bicycle delivering lunch. A little girl is hauling
a heavy bucket of water. And I believe their
dreams, their hopes, are just as important,
just as beautiful, just as worthy as ours. And so even as we live in a
world of terrible inequality, we’re also proud to live in
countries where even the grandson of a cook
can become President, or even a Dalit can help
write a constitution, and even a tea seller can
become Prime Minister. (applause) The point is, is that the
aim of our work must be not to just have a few do well,
but to have everybody have a chance, everybody who is
willing to work for it have the ability to dream big and
then reach those dreams. Our nations are strongest
when we uphold the equality of all our people — and
that includes our women. (applause) Now, you
may have noticed, I’m married to a very
strong and talented woman. (applause) Michelle is not
afraid to speak her mind, or tell me when I’m wrong —
which happens frequently. (laughter) And we have
two beautiful daughters, so I’m surrounded by
smart, strong women. And in raising our girls,
we’ve tried to instill in them basic values — a
sense of compassion for others, and respect
for themselves, and the confidence that
they can go as far as their imaginations and abilities
will carry them. And as part of Michelle’s
work as First Lady, she’s met with women and
girls around the world, including here in India,
to let them know that America believes
in them, too. In the United States, we’re
still working to make sure that women and girls have
all the opportunities they deserve, and that
they’re treated equally. And we have some
great role models, including here today the
former speaker of our House of Representatives
— Nancy Pelosi who — (applause) — was the first woman
speaker of the House, and my great partner. (applause) And here in India, it’s
the wives and the mothers who so often hold families
and communities together. Indian women have shown
that they can succeed in every field — including
government, where many of your leaders are women. And the young women who
are here today are part of a new generation that is
making your voice heard, and standing up and
determined to play your part in India’s progress. And here’s what we know. We know from experience
that nations are more successful when their
women are successful. (applause) When girls go to
school — this is one of the most direct measures
of whether a nation is going to develop effectively is
how it treats its women. When a girl goes to school, it
doesn’t just open up her young mind, it benefits
all of us — because maybe someday she’ll start
her own business, or invent a new technology,
or cure a disease. And when women are able
to work, families are healthier, and communities
are wealthier, and entire countries are
more prosperous. And when young
women are educated, then their children are
going to be well educated and have more opportunity. So if nations really want to
succeed in today’s global economy, they can’t
simply ignore the talents of half their people. And as husbands and
fathers and brothers, we have to step up — because
every girl’s life matters. Every daughter deserves the
same chance as our sons. Every woman should be able
to go about her day — to walk the streets or ride
the bus — and be safe, and be treated with
respect and dignity. (applause) She deserves that. (applause) And one of the favorite things
about this trip for me has been to see all these
incredible Indian women in the armed forces, including
the person who commanded the Guard that greeted
me when I arrived. (applause) It’s remarkable, and
it’s a sign of great strength and great progress. Our nations are strongest when
we see that we are all God’s children — all equal in His
eyes and worthy of His love. Across our two great countries
we have Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Sikhs,
and Jews and Buddhists and Jains and so
many faiths. And we remember the wisdom of
Gandhiji, who said, “for me, the different religions are
beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches
of the same majestic tree.” (applause) Branches of
the same majestic tree. Our freedom of religion
is written into our founding documents. It’s part of America’s
very first amendment. Your Article 25 says that all
people are “equally entitled to freedom of conscience
and the right freely to profess, practice and
propagate religion.” In both our countries — in all
countries — upholding this fundamental freedom is the
responsibility of government, but it’s also the
responsibility of every person. In our lives, Michelle and
I have been strengthened by our Christian faith. But there have been times where
my faith has been questioned — by people who don’t know me —
or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if
that were somehow a bad thing. Around the world, we’ve seen
intolerance and violence and terror perpetrated by those
who profess to be standing up for their faith, but, in
fact, are betraying it. No society is immune from
the darkest impulses of man. And too often religion has
been used to tap into those darker impulses as opposed
to the light of God. Three years ago in our
state of Wisconsin, back in the United States, a
man went to a Sikh temple and, in a terrible act of violence,
killed six innocent people — Americans and Indians. And in that moment
of shared grief, our two countries
reaffirmed a basic truth, as we must again today —
that every person has the right to practice their
faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at
all, and to do so free of persecution and
fear and discrimination. (applause) The peace we seek in the
world begins in human hearts. And it finds its glorious
expression when we look beyond any differences
in religion or tribe, and rejoice in the
beauty of every soul. And nowhere is that more
important than India. Nowhere is it going to
be more necessary for that foundational
value to be upheld. India will succeed so long as
it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith — so
long as it’s not splintered along any lines — and is
unified as one nation. And it’s when all Indians,
whatever your faith, go to the movies and applaud
actors like Shah Rukh Khan. And when you celebrate athletes
like Milkha Singh or Mary Kom. And every Indian can take
pride in the courage of a humanitarian who
liberates boys and girls from forced labor and
exploitation — who is here today —
Kailash Satyarthi. (applause) Our most recent
winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace. (applause) So that’s what unifies
us: Do we act with compassion and empathy. Are we measured by our
efforts — by what Dr. King called “the
content of our character” rather than the
color of our skin or the manner in which
we worship our God. In both our countries,
in India and in America, our diversity is
our strength. And we have to guard against
any efforts to divide ourselves along sectarian
lines or any other lines. And if we do that well, if
America shows itself as an example of its diversity and yet
the capacity to live together and work together in common
effort, in common purpose; if India, as massive as it
is, with so much diversity, so many differences is able
to continually affirm its democracy, that is an
example for every other country on Earth. That’s what makes us world
leaders — not just the size of our economy or the
number of weapons we have, but our ability to show the
way in how we work together, and how much respect
we show each other. And, finally, our nations are
strongest when we empower our young people —
because ultimately, you’re the one who has to break
down these old stereotypes and these old barriers,
these old ways of thinking. Prejudices and stereotypes and
assumptions — those are what happens to old minds
like mine. I’m getting gray hair now. I was more youthful when I
first started this office. And that’s why young
people are so important in these efforts. Here in India, most people
are under 35 years old. And India is on track to
become the world’s most populous country. So young Indians like you
aren’t just going to define the future of this nation,
you’re going to shape the world. Like young people
everywhere, you want to get an education, and find a good
job, and make your mark. And it’s not easy, but in our
two countries, it’s possible. Remember, Michelle and
I don’t come from wealthy backgrounds
or famous families. Our families didn’t
have a lot of money. We did have parents and
teachers and communities that cared about us. And with the help of
scholarships and student loans, we were able to attend some
of best schools of the world. Without that education, we
wouldn’t be here today. So whether it’s in
America, or here in India, or around the world, we believe
young people like you ought to have every chance to pursue
your dreams, as well. So as India builds new
community colleges, we’ll link you with our own,
so more young people graduate with the skills
and training to succeed. We’ll increase collaborations
between our colleges and universities, and help
create the next India institute of technology. We’ll encourage young
entrepreneurs who want to start a business. And we’ll increase exchanges,
because I want more American students coming to India,
and more Indian students coming to America. (applause) And that way, we
can learn from each other and we can go further. Because one other thing we
have in common Indians and Americans are some
of the hardest working people on Earth. And I’ve seen thhat– (applause) Michelle and I have seen that
in a family here in India. I just want to tell
you a quick story. On our last visit here, we
visited Humayun’s Tomb. And while we were there, we
met some of the laborers who are the backbone of this
nation’s progress. We met their children and their
families as well — and some wonderful young children
with bright smiles, sparks in their eyes. And one of the children we
met was a boy named Vishal. And today, Vishal
is 16 years old. And he and his family
live in South Delhi, in the village of Mor Band. (applause) And his mother works
hard in their modest home, and his sister is
now in university; she wants to
become a teacher. His brother is a construction
worker earning his daily wage. And his father works as a
stone layer, farther away, but sends home what
little he makes so Vishal can go to school. And Vishal loves math,
and mostly, he studies. And when he’s not studying,
he likes watching kabaddi. And he dreams of someday joining
the Indian armed forces. (applause) And we’re grateful
that Vishal and his family joined us today. We’re very proud of him,
because he’s an example of the talent that’s here. And Vishal’s dreams are as
important as Malia and Sasha’s dreams, our daughters. And we want him to have
the same opportunities. Sisters and brothers of India,
we are not perfect countries. And we’ve known tragedy
and we’ve known triumph. We’re home to
glittering skyscrapers, but also terrible
poverty; and new wealth, but also rising inequality. We have many challenges
in front of us. But the reason I
stand here today, and am so optimistic about
our future together, is that, despite our imperfections,
our two nations possess the keys to progress in
the century ahead. We vote in free elections. We work and we build
and we innovate. We lift up the
least among us. We reach for heights
previous generations could not even imagine. We respect human rights
and human dignity, and it is recorded
in our constitutions. And we keep striving
to live up to those ideals put to paper all
those years ago. And we do these things
because they make our lives better and safer
and more prosperous. But we also do them because
our moral imaginations extend beyond the limits
of our own lives. And we believe that the
circumstances of our birth need not dictate the
arc of our lives. We believe in the father
working far from home sending money back so his family
might have a better life. We believe in the mother who
goes without so that her children might have
something more. We believe in the laborer
earning his daily wage, and the student
pursuing her degree. And we believe in a
young boy who knows that if he just keeps studying, if
he’s just given the chance, his hopes might
be realized, too. We are all “beautiful
flowers from the same garden…branches of the
same majestic tree.” And I’m the first American
President to come to your country twice, but I predict
I will not be the last. Because,
as Americans, we believe in the
promise of India. We believe in the
people of India. We are proud to
be your friend. We are proud to
be your partner as you build the
country of your dreams. Jai Hind! (applause) Thank you.

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