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Obama: India Must Not Split On Sectarian Lines.

By: Sugat Shrivastav

Source: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

As a debate heats over growing intolerance in the country, former US President Barack Obama on Friday revealed that he had privately told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India must not split on sectarian lines. Speaking in the Leadership Summit, Obama also emphasized that India must cherish the fact that Muslims in the country clearly identify themselves as Indians.

“A country shouldn’t be divided into sectarian lines and that is something I have told Prime Minister Modi in person as well as to people in America,” he said.

The Hindustan Times Leadership Summit is a platform for the men and women who shape our tomorrow to converge under one roof. The theme of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2017, “The Irreversible Rise of India”, will attempt looking at the continued rise of India. The illustrious list of speakers includes Barack Obama, Narendra Modi, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Mukesh Ambani, Salman Khan, Yogi Adityanath, etc.

Obama was visiting for the first time since demitting office. He said, “There’s a counter-narrative taking place, at all times, but it’s particularly pronounced now… in Europe, US and sometimes in India where those old tribal impulses reassert themselves under leaders who try to push back and under leaders who try to exploit them.”

At the summit, Obama said, “For a country like India where there is a Muslim population that is successful, integrated and considers itself as Indian, which is not the case in some other countries, this should be nourished and cultivated.”


Recently, National Crime Record Bureau released its data for the year 2016. It depicts the drop in the number of people involved in rioting by astonishing 5%. Recently, Shabbir Sheikh alias Lalu Anda and Akbar Sheikh alias Jaanubhai, who were wanted for plotting riots at Mandvi in August this year, were arrested by police on Wednesday.

Beef lynching is a major culprit in breaching the harmony of Hindus and Muslims. The incidences have become much common since banning the beef. In September 2015, Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched in UP’s Dadri for allegedly storing and consuming beef in his house. The sample which police collected from the house was sent Mathura for investigation and was found that it was mutton. In another incidence, which occurred in July 2017, a Muslim dairy owner was attacked by a group of over 1,000 men after a headless carcass was found near his home. Thirty police personnel were also injured as the mob laid a siege around 55-year-old Usman Ansari’s house. Last month, man identified as Ummar Muhammad was shot dead allegedly by cow vigilantes for transporting cow from Mewat in Haryana to Bharatpur in Rajasthan. On 23rd November, three Muslim passengers on a Haridwar-bound train were beaten up “for covering their heads with rumaal (headscarves)”. These incidences don’t go parallel with the data released and harmony expected.


Asked about his views on Modi, Obama also referred to the previous prime minister Manmohan Singh by saying that the two leaders shared a focus on India-US ties and a great vision for the country.

“I like him (Narendra Modi). I think he has a vision for the country. I was also great friends with Dr Manmohan Singh. He laid the foundation of the modern Indian economy… The unifying theme in both leaders (Modi and Singh) during my tenure was the focus on India-US relations,” he said.

Modi government has certainly raised expectations of the whole world. Though number of people involved in riots have decreased but beef lynching is certainly a bottleneck for the peace to reside in the country. The statistics released by NCRB can’t portray the exact picture as a lot of incidences go un-noticed. Favorizing the Hindu Right Wing activists by government is also a major issue.

What do you think?

Written by Sharad Maverick

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