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American media largely ignores Obama's India visit, some give cursory coverage

Updated: January 25, 2015, 4:54 PM IST
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American media largely ignores Obama's India visit, some give cursory coverage
The iconic US newspaper 'New York Times' has no report on Obama's visit to India in its print edition.

Washington: Indian media has been covering the US President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to India non-stop. Indeed, it is one of the biggest media events of the New Year. But, the American media has largely ignored Obama's visit to India to be the chief guest at the Republic Day. Some of them have given a cursory coverage to the high profile visit.

The iconic US newspaper 'New York Times' has no report on Obama's visit to India in its print edition. Most leading newspapers have reports on the ISIS threat, death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and domestic issues of the US.

In an article in DNA, US based commentator Dr. Munish Raizada writes from Chicago that largely self-consuming, US media has thus far cold shouldered the Indian trip by its President. TV channels here are known for broadcasting crime news as the breaking news and where weather report is presented in a very celebrated manner hour after hour. Even the TV channels that pledge politics as their dharma (the famous phrase "Politics = CNN"), their weekends are mainly spent showing crime serials. Given this morphology of TV media and a political milieu studded with Republicans, it is not surprising that Obama's visit to India remains largely uncovered so far. USA media as usual continues to 'indulge' in Middle East, ISIS, terrorism and related latest news (Yemen falls, Saudi King dies).

He says that even in print media, there is scant coverage of Obama's visit to India. Time magazine has come out with a nice article describing '5 things you need to know about Obama's visit to India', and adds that 'the symbolism may be backed by some substance'. The Wall Street Journal says that Obama's trip to India signals stronger ties (in background of assertive China).

FOX TV channel was quick to point out that President would be inhaling one of the most polluted airs in the world. Some newspapers and portals have focused on sanitary measures and monkey removal exercises being undertaken in Delhi, trying to recapture the image of India that they believe in.

Indian diaspora in USA has not shown that kind of enthusiasm on Obama's visit to India as it did when Modi visited USA a few months back, he writes.

Another very influential US newspaper Washington Post has carried an article by Katie Zezima, who covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix on Obama's India visit. She writes "President Obama is traveling about 7,500 miles to be the guest at a parade here. But it's not just any procession. Obama will attend India's annual Republic Day parade, a stunning, hours-long spectacle that showcases India's culture, military, states and federal programs. The parade, held Jan. 26, celebrates the adoption of the Indian Constitution - the day that India became a republic. (It's not the same as Indian Independence Day, which is in August.)

Each year, the Indian government invites a different foreign head of state to be its special guest. Last year it was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"It's India's most important formal invitation to offer," said Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The unprecedented invitation to Obama, which officials said came as a surprise, would have been unheard of a few years ago as the relationship between the two countries stagnated. But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took office in May, sees the relationship with the United States as one that is good for both India and his ambitions, despite personal and political tensions. Modi was denied a visa by the U.S. government in 2005due to alleged violations of religious freedom. Modi offered Obama the invitation after the men met in Washington in September.

"I think President Obama was personally honored to receive that invitation," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said. " I think he sees this as a potentially transitional if not transformational moment for the relationship, because we have a very strong and clear indication from India's leadership that they want to elevate" our cooperation and relationship.

Obama will be both the first U.S. president to attend the parade and the first to visit India twice while in office. The invitation from Modi also underscores how the men both use social media - Modi put the news on Twitter and the White House publicly accepted via the network".

Another powerful newspaper in the USA, 'Las Angeles Times' has also carried an article Obama's India visit. 'LA Times' report says that two months after his last trip to Asia, President Obama left Saturday for a three-day visit to India that includes no world summits, no major decisions to make and a relaxed schedule designed mainly to give plenty of chances for dinner and conversation with the country's popular new prime minister.

The India itinerary, unusual for the normally frenetic White House, is meant to drive home a message about Obama's intentions for his foreign policy in the last two years of his presidency: His repeatedly delayed "pivot to Asia," a reorientation of policy priorities and military and diplomatic interests, is finally happening.

"He wants people to realize this is an important commitment," said one advisor familiar with the plans.

First Published: January 25, 2015, 4:54 PM IST
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