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'Mann Ki Baat': World will be more secure if US, India join around shared values, says Barack Obama

Jan 27, 2015 09:17 PM IST India India

New Delhi: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's strong personal commitment to improve ties between the two countries and said if the US and India join together around shared values then world will be more prosperous, peaceful and secure.

Speaking at the special radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat' jointly addressed with Modi, Obama said the people of America were very impressed with Modi's efforts to remove poverty. "The US people are excited about PM's effort to reduce poverty, empower women, provide electricity access and clean energy," he said.

The US President said he looked forward to partnering with Indian organizations, government and NGOs around public health issues including obesity.

On asked by Modi about the First Lady of the US Michelle Obama's contributions to the society, Obama said, "I am very proud of the work my wife has done in the field of public health. It can lead to lifetime of health challenges and we would like to work on this issue internationally including India."

He said public health infrastructure around the world needs to be improved. He praised Modi and said he is doing a great job in take up public health issues in India.

"India has lot to teach many other countries who may not be advancing as rapidly in improving public health sector," he said.

Obama started his address with "Namaste" and thanked Modi for the hospitality he showed to him me and Michelle. "I am the first US President to be the chief guest of Republic Day. It is an honor to be here," he said.

Obama said, "When I go back I am going to tell my daughters that India is as magnificent as they imagined. My daughters wanted to join me in our visit to India, but they had exams. My daughters wanted to come but unfortunately they had school. They are fascinated by India's culture and history."

Modi initiated the address and explained the meaning of Barack to the listeners saying it meant "one who is blessed". Throughout the programme, he addressed the US President with his first name 'Obama'.

Turning to Indo-US relations, the PM said they are natural partners because they have so much in common.

Modi talked about his personal experiences with Obama. "President Obama gave me a book. It is a book from 1894 on Swami Vivekananda. That touched me," he said.

The PM narrated his feelings when he saw the White House in the US for the first time. "When I had first visited the US, I had never thought I would have opportunity to enter its premises. I had gone to White House long back, I had taken a photograph from outside the gate, but never thought that one day I will get a chance to go inside White House one day."

Obama too shared his feeling about visiting the White House. "When I first went to the White House, I stood outside the same fence and never imagined I would visit there, forget living there," he said.

He further said, "A tea seller or someone born to a single mother leads our nations are examples of extraordinary opportunities in our nations."

Obama talked about laying emphasis on higher education for all round development of youth which is actually strength of a nation. "I think governments and leaders cannot simply try to govern, they have to rather reach out to people in an inclusive way and have a dialogue," he said.

The US President said he had much greater faith in India and the US that are open societies.

He said the only problems that come to his desk are those that nobody else can solve. "Almost everyday I meet somebody who says you made a difference in my life," the US President said.

Modi, on his part, said the youth should unite the world. "I was inspired by Benjamin Franklin of the US. I read his autobiography. As a child I saw photos of Kennedy. He had an amazing personality," he said.

The PM said sex ratio in India is a cause of concern because of our biased view towards boys and girls.

Modi talked about releasing an E-book on 'Mann Ki Baat'. "Please join this and the best thoughts will be shared in an e-book. Please use Twitter, Facebook and the likes, and use #YesWeCan," he said.