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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman and you're with The World. President Obama is out of town and he's missing a few things at home, starting with the blizzard that's freaking out everyone from Washington to here in Boston. The president spent the day in India as a guest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was India's national holiday Republic Day. Sanjeev Miglani has been following the events in India for Thomson Reuters.
Sanjeev Miglani: There is quite a buzz here about Obama as well as Modi. Indians have always looked up to America, so an American visitor for the first time on a Republic Day parade in sixty-six years is quite an event.
Werman: If you pull Indians aside and push the pomp and circumstance out of the way, what do they think of Obama? Are there strong opinions pro or con?
Miglani: Very strong pro Obama. In this part of the world, Obama remains as a leader who represents change. In just the way they look at Modi as a force of change, he represents that force of change in just they way they look at Obama. I think there seems to be a natural connection. Indians tend to feel naturally comfortable with the Americans. There's always one member of the family who is in the States. They're back and forth.
Werman: Have there been real substantive developments in the last twenty-four hours since Obama's arrival there that show that Modi and Obama together equals kind of, like, double change?
Miglani: Yeah, there is a lot of bromance going on. This is Mobama Day. Somebody called it a Mobama sort of thing between the two of them.
Werman: A Mobama moment.
Miglani: A Mobama moment. Exactly. But, there is substance to some extent.
Werman: Like where? Where have you seen it?
Miglani: Good question. They did a nuclear deal back in 2008 and it got frozen because of India's liability laws. No big American firm could come and set up reactors here. Now, they've kind of found a way through it. So, that's the one big test. The other is defense. They have made advances in defense. They want to build coal produced stuff in India. India wants to do that, and slowly America is kind of starting to surpass the Russians as the source of from where India imports arms. Slowly Russia is starting to slip away.
Werman: So, nuclear cooperation and defense back on track with the US and India. I suspect even one of those would make China and Pakistan stand up and pay attention. Why is the India-US relationship important at this point in time, would you say?
Miglani: So, as part of President Obama's pivot to Asia, India looks like a power that can, to some extent, be the swing force here.
Werman: What are people there thinking about Obama's early departure to Saudi Arabia to pay his respects to the late King Abdullah? How's that being seen in India?
Miglani: I think there might have been a slight tinge of disappointment. He didn't go to Agra. That would have again made for great, great television, great imagery.
Werman: Site of the Taj Mahal.
Miglani: The site of the Taj Mahal. The First Lady and him in a completely enclosed place. But, I guess there is also-- Indians are quite sensitive. There has been a death and you wouldn't question that sort of thing, so I think it's not being made so much of it, but there is just a slight sense of disappointment.
Werman: Let me just ask you about two sidebars. Modi's hat collection, which apparently is just very big, and Obama's gum chewing. I don't know if he's chewing Nicorette, but are people annoyed that the President of the United States is smacking his lips as he tours all this stuff?
Miglani: It's a long parade. It's two hours. You know, it's a really old custom. It's a Soviet-style parade combined with the cultural extravagance like a Macy's, so it's a bit of a match and miss. I don't think there's too much noise about that. As far as Modi's hat collection is concerned, yeah, Modi is quite a dresser. I think on the day Obama arrived he changed his costume three times. Between those back-to-back meeting he found time to change his wardrobe. So, yeah, his imagery is very important to him.
Werman: Sanjeev Miglani from Thomson Reuters speaking with me from Delhi. Thanks so much for your time.
Miglani: Thank you.