October 13, 2010

The big news in India this month is President Obama’s visit to Parliament on November 9th.  Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government has worked towards stronger ties with the United States for five years. Initially, he undertook negotiations over the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement with Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. In 2008, America gave India access to its nuclear fuel and technology while India agreed to IAEA inspections of its civilian nuclear reactors.

Having established that the two great democracies of the 21st century can negotiate, what will the President and Prime Minister talk about in November? As a Sikh, I hope that President Obama will courageously address the behavior of the Taliban, who, under a misguided Jihad, have been killing innocents, closing schools for girls, cutting off noses of women who dare to step out of homes, blowing up shrines to Sufi Saints of Islam near the Khyber Pass and cajoling Sikhs living in Pakistan to convert to Islam – even killing a few. Will the American president address the concerns of those in the Khyber area or will he concentrate on Kashmir?

I am hopeful that President Obama will take a courageous stand because the hidden agenda of the trip is already revealed in the President’s itinerary. He is skipping the Taj Mahal -all dignitaries in the past have visited – which may be a mausoleum to love, but it was built by a Muslim tyrant who terrorized non-Muslims back in the seventeenth century in the same manner the Taliban is doing now.

Again as a Sikh, I am delighted that President Obama is, instead, visiting the Golden Temple, the traditional seat of the Sikh religion. The Temple has four doors opening to all sides welcoming one and all. Built by the fifth Guru 400 years ago it sits in the middle of a holy water tank which has miraculous healing powers. Devotional hymns in praise of God are sung nonstop from 4 in the morning till 10 in the night creating a holy ambience. Kings and rulers of India have always visited it.


The Golden Temple in India, seat of the Sikh religion

The Golden Temple


President Obama is also visiting the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai where Muslim  terrorists from Pakistan struck in November 2008 without any justification. The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai – made in 1903 – has been a perfect host to Maharajas, Princes, Kings, Presidents and CEOs ever since. This hotel is an architectural marvel bringing together Moorish, Indian and Florentine styles.


Taj Mahal Palace Hotel Mumbai India

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is on the left. The arched building on the right is the Gateway of India.


Under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, India has welcomed Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan to New Delhi and increased aid package to Afghanistan, making India one of the largest donors to Afghanistan. Dr. Singh has also brought Hu Jingtoa, the Premier of China to India to discuss border disputes in the South China Sea, Tibet and Kashmir. I suspect their meeting may bring unexpected peace to the troubled area. These two great leaders can work together for mutual advantage to India and America.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Obama did not visit the Golden Temple on his visit to Mumbai on November 6, 2010. The Code of Conduct requires all visitors to cover their heads in some manner before entering. Obama’s advisors were concerned that the gesture of respect might lend fuel to the contentions from his political opponents that he is a Muslim.

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