Monday, January 16, 2017

Citizen Obama

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

President Obama is completing him final term in office on January 20, 2017, this coming Friday.  Most of my last ten years have been nursing back to health and only a single trip to India to visit my mother in 2016, but plenty of time in understanding politics and global directions.  Both India and USA have been quite active in pushing democracy and development, and some brotherly love between Modi and Obama.

To draw simple parallels, since Modi became the PM of India, Obama was already some way thru his second term as president of USA.  Both men got along really well, and even addressed each other by Barak and Narendra.  A gesture to me was a special connotation of friendship between leaders of the largest and the oldest democracies, and the friendship between the leaders continue to the end of term of president Obama.

Before delving into retirement of Obama, the parallels that can be drawn between Obama and Modi are their beginnings as men in community development and their humble beginnings and their reach out to the underprivileged.

As President Obama rose in politics from Chicago, obviously he is our home town hero.  When I first met him (the only time) he was running for the senate seat (not too long ago, about ten years ago).  Shareef bhai had organized lunch in Chicago (I believe India House) and Satish and myself along with a couple of others had an Indian lunch with Obama and one of his associates.  Although I don’t remember everyone at the table, it was a small fund raising lunch, and when I saw his last interview on 60 Minutes yesterday (January 15, 2017), he looked and sounded the same. We all know he loves Indian food, and his affinity to the community.  I really think Obama has an affinity to every culture and obviously every food.  He was a man with quick intellect (he certainly was curious and well versed) and with quick wit and a very quick smile.  He still is after what he has done in the last ten years.

The most powerful office on earth will become a private citizen in a few days, and his reflections are stark to the day’s reality.  Obama clearly admits to his inability to work together with republicans.  It is glaring that the politicians can be of such different opinions and philosophies.  In his time in office, the acrimony of his opposition was obvious.  Republicans despised everything Obama, and it did not matter what he did.  From his birth to every policy was dealt with such acrimony, it is hard to believe that these people were representing the people.  Obama readily admits to the animosity to him as a person, and also clearly admits to his inability to work with both sides of congress.  It probably will never get easy for the next president and the one after.

Obama’s will walk away from the white house with great dignity and absolutely no scandal, along with two little girls grown-up and well mannered just like their parents.  To me, it doesn’t matter what the Obama’s looked like, or what their politics were, but they were great role models for families and friends, and to people in general.  Obama, was part of the change, and will always be remembered for his path-breaking political life.  He is still young and will have a long list of contributions to make to the society and the world.  I am sure glad he will be back to Chicago and I sure hope to have another Indian meal with him.

I am happy that Obama Presidential Library will be in the Chicago area.  While they build it and after they open it to public, I intend to be a part of it.  Although every president of the USA is a special person, as 43 men before President Obama, he is special.  A man with simple will to achieve what he did, and the simple plan of what he wishes to do after being the leader of the free world. He just wants to be Citizen Obama, spend time with his wife, see his daughters grow up, and yes, he would like to teach.  God bless him and his family and may he be a source of inspiration to the world. “OBAMA OUT”.

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