By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
After becoming India’s Prime Minister in the biggest democratic election on Earth last May, Narendra Modi visited the USA on a 5-day whirlwind diplomacy tour in the fall. In late January, President Barack Obama made a 3-day visit to India, where he reached historic business and nuclear power deals to strengthen ties between the two nations.
Obama became the first American leader to be honored as chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, which mark the anniversary of India’s constitution in 1950. In 1947, Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent Indian independence movement succeeding in breaking away from British rule, after it had controlled the region since 1858.
Gandhi is widely considered the ‘father’ of India, because he successfully challenged Britain’s unfair laws and taxes, promoted women’s rights, helped the poor, and encouraged religious peace. He inspired civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to use non-violence for African-American equality, and he won his country’s freedom from the British Crown like the American Revolution’s Founding Fathers. Although Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, his message lives on in the over 1.2 billion people who live in India, the second-most populated country in the world.
“We are moving in the right direction,” said Obama, during a meeting with Modi and major business leaders. Obama’s visit demanded historic security levels, turning Central Delhi into a fortress with 40,000 police and military forces, American Secret Service agents, undercover spies, and 15,000 security cameras! His trip also marks the first time an American leader has visited India twice during their presidency, and he promised $4 billion in investments to unlock India’s “untapped potential”, especially in nuclear power. Obama and Modi also agreed to work together on advancing clean energy technology and reducing pollution. Scientists believe this is critical in turning the tide against climate change, since the World Health Organization released a report last year that said 13 out of the 20 most polluted cities on Earth are in India.
Images courtesy of Narendra Modi Facebook.