Four years ago, Obama’s mesmerising speeches and charisma enthralled an audience who seemed to love him for his underdog image, still remain fresh in Indian memory.
As US President Barack Obama’s prime-time speech to convention delegates breaks Twitter records and the 51-year-old asks for a second term amidst doubts of a re-election, his public-speaking skills seem to be the predominant image revisited.
Four years ago, around his birthday in August, the mesmerising speeches and charisma to hold an audience who seemed to love him for his marginalised traits and underdog image, still remain fresh in Indian memory.
For India, Obama’s history-creating victory raised a triumph of hope. A desire that remained ignored and now rekindled with another election talk. Obama understandably just made some whispers about India, enough to be echoed as wrong noises. Diplomacy on easing Foreign Direct Investment norms in India, mouthing the right quotes about Washington’s relationship with Pakistan, asking American youth to work hard to beat the Bangalore challenge and his reiteration that India is not the right destination to invest money due to government gridlocks.
Seeking a second term, Obama, has also to contend with Americans of Indian origin — Republican politico Bobby Jindal, critical of Obama’s big federal spending, American politician Nikki Haley who remarks Obama does not have to remind immigrants that they did not build their flourishing business themselves and Dinesh D’Souza, whose critical documentary 2016: Obama’s America, is rocking the US box office.
Even when former US President Bill Clinton makes sweeping references to Michelle Obama in a bid to mop up the support for the colour-crossed White House candidate, you are reminded of his Monica Lewinsky episode in the Naughty Nineties and his own wife’s bid in 2008 during which he clashed with the present incumbent-in-support.
For a man, whom The Daily Telegraph describes in its article: ‘Barack Obama: The 50 facts you might not know’, as the man who “applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee” and “said many of his friends in Indonesia were street urchins”, life’s been a roller coaster.
Coincidentally, Osama also decides to haunt Obama at this critical juncture with a former Navy SEAL’s insider account that steals the thunder from Obama’s powerful speech in the televised address on May 1, 2011 that Osama Bin Laden is dead. The new advertisements trumpeting the killing is drawing flak for politicising national security.
Despite all this lacunae, there are lessons to be learnt; an exercise called Obama, who reports say recovered from drugs, broken parentage, chain smoking, difficult marriage, impossible extended family et al. His trip to India in November 2010, remember, was billed as a success. The Taj Hotel visit, Diwali with Mumbai kids, dance with students and visiting Humayun’s tomb are the hovering memories.
Media reviews about Obama’s performance in office remain mixed, predominantly negative. While Time magazine called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh The Underachiever in its July 2012 edition, India’s Outlook immediately hit back by calling Obama The Underachiever in its following cover story.
With the Washington
Post now calling Manmohan Singh a Tragic Figure, it’s time for India’s 13th Prime Minster to learn to put his Public Relations skills in place from Barack Obama, the 44th President of the US. From stories of Michelle Obama being a regular at gyms to his daughters being disciplined, the true role of Public Relations, preceding elections, through media is at play in the West and the West-fed Indian media.
The Democratic candidate might just pip his Republican rival Mitt Romney, thanks again to the power of verbal exchanges and election propaganda that works well in impressionable American public memory. This possible victory could be despite unemployment rate at 8.1 per cent, nonfarm payrolls at 96,000 and a national debt that has surpassed $16 trillion in the United States. And herein is the hidden lesson for the Congress-led UPA government in India trailing with corruption, scandals and a dysfunctional set of ministers. Elections are round the corner and the Indian political battle also begins and ends with words!
The writer works for Postnoon