Obama Tells India Women's Rights Are Crucial To Any Nation's Success & Amen, Mr. President
POTUS' trip to India was decidedly genial, to say the least, but perhaps one of the more crucial marks of the president's visit was his subtle challenge to the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to promote tolerance and equality. President Obama's push for women's rights in India, as well as religious tolerance and greater economic equality, was a welcome change amid days of camaraderie.
On Tuesday, as he prepared to end his three-day visit, Obama gave a speech at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi to the mostly-student crowd that was broadcast live on local news stations. He said:
Amen, Mr. President.
Obama's speech came days after Modi launched the "Beti Bachao Beti Padhao," (or Save the Daughter, Teach the Daughter) campaign aimed at tackling the imbalanced child gender ratio in the country. The alarming decline of the number of girls in India — a result of decades of selective abortion targeting female fetuses due to cultural preferences for sons — has become so dire that the United Nations called it a national emergency.
The debate on gender equality escalated after the appalling gang rape and murder of a young woman on a school bus in Delhi, and Obama alluded to the incident, as well as the prevalence of gang rapes in the country:
Obama also touted the First Lady as a model for capable women, calling her a "very strong and talented" wife.
The president also urged the country to respect the rights of religious minorities, perhaps a slight assertion to Modi's right-wing, nationalist Hindu government. He said:
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